2013 Gratitude Project – Travel: Churches of New York CityThis month will be a celebration of travel. I am so grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had over my nearly thirty years to explore the world. Click here to read about my 2013 November Gratitude Project – Travel
One of my few Saturdays in NYC I decided to visit a handful of churches around Manhattan. I love architecture and especially enjoy admiring religious architecture. It says so much about a group of people and their culture over time. It also demonstrates a devotedness to God. Many times the most beautiful buildings are churches filled with stunning art, whether it is stained glass, murals, stone or wood carving or tapestries.
It turns out there are dozens of fascinating and historic houses of worship in Manhattan. I only made it to a handful and inside less, but it was a very enjoyable everyday adventure. Two of the edifices stood out on my excursion, one on the near Grant’s tomb and the other right across from where the Twin Towers once stood.
The Riverside Church
This magnificent building is the tallest church in the United States and was built between 1927 and 1930. It was conceived by John D. Rockefeller and his minister friend as an inter-denominational church that would bring together anyone who was considered a Christian. This diversity and call the every-man is evident in the details inside. For example one stained-glass window featured carpenters, masons and other craftsmen who helped build the church. The building also houses centuries-old artwork and artifacts in its many chapels.
In lower Manhattan is a wonderful old church that has served the country in times of great joy – George Washington went there for a prayer service after his inauguration – and in times of great despair – refugees from the World Trade Center sought safety there on that fateful September day. It is St. Paul’s Church and is more of a memorial today than active house of worship even though countless prayers are most likely offered there each day.
When I visited, not sure now, there were many 9/11 memorials. Since I’m a patch collector, I was drawn to the memorial made up of patches from fire departments all around the country. Another fascinating piece of preserved history is the box with chair that George Washington sat in as the first U.S. President.
Out back, between the church and Ground Zero, the churchyard is a cemetery with headstones dating back to the 1700s. One particular stone stood out to me because of the date, September 11, 1796.
I visited many other churches while in NYC including St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s on Park Avenue, the Central Synagogue on the East Side, the Trinity Church on Wall Street, St. John’s Cathedral just blocks from my apartment, and of course the LDS Temple across from Lincoln Center. Here are some pics. (click on an image to open the gallery)
I am grateful for my faith, but also for the faith of others. In most cases it leads people to do good. I am also thankful for the respect instilled in me by my parents and my time with The Texas Boys Choir of other faith traditions. I feel that freedom to worship God (or not) is a fundamental freedom we should all enjoy everywhere. I also feel that the world would be a much better place if we learned just a little bit about the faith of our neighbors.