Have you gotten a load of our narthex lately? Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s spectacular. That red wall that you see when you first walk in serves as a beautiful backdrop to some of our collective treasures. Many, many thanks to Ginny and Matt McColm, Susan Clemons and all those who had a hand in the painting.
One of the treasures we now proudly display on that wall is the large wood and ceramic crucifix we obtained from Saint Martha’s, when that parish closed. Matt McColm just last week succeeded in hanging it right at the point where the two diagonal walls meet, literally making it the centerpiece of the narthex.
I’m happy to report that our persistence in researching the history of that crucifix has at last paid off. We have now determined that the piece, which for years hung in the kitchen in St. Martha’s parish hall, was the original altar crucifix, dating to the days when the church was located at 3900 Shaw Boulevard in Wesminster. It was donated as a gift by St. Martha’s first vicar, the Rev. David M. Warner, in 1955. The Rev. Warner died on Jan. 1, 2017 at his home in Virginia.
And here’s a bit of history on one other item we received from St. Martha’s: a set of sanctus bells. Those bells originally belonged to All Saints Episcopal Church, back when All Saints was located at 32ndand Wyandot in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood. In the 1960s, All Saints moved a couple of miles west to a new building at 33rdand Yates, and the old building became Chapel of Our Merciful Savior, and clergy from All Saints served both churches.
In 2005, All Saints closed. It’s Senior Warden at the time was our own Nancy Herrera, and she oversaw the disposal of All Saints property.
“The bishop didn’t want me to sell anything, but wanted me to give away whatever I could,” Nancy recalled. “Father Steve (Wengrovius, then-rector at St. Martha’s) admired those bells and said St. Martha’s didn’t have any. I offered them to him, and he said he would treasure them.”
Fortunately, St. Martha’s parishioner Judith Helton – who frequently worships at St. James as part of our Wednesday congregation – knew the story of where the sanctus bells came from. So when St. Martha’s decided to close last month, Judith made sure those bells were set aside to come to Saint James, where Nancy could again enjoy them.
“I love it,” Nancy says. “They’ve really made the rounds. It gives me goose bumps to hear them again. They sound different than our other sanctus bells. You can tell in the clarity of the sound.”
All of which reminds me of one of my favorite prayers, which we pray each year on Good Friday and also at every ordination: “O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole church, that wonderful and sacred mystery by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen.