Ring the bells

Trinity Episcopal Church

This crucifix hangs above the altar at Trinity Episcopal church on Island Avenue.

This crucifix hangs above the altar at Trinity Episcopal church on Island Avenue.

Photo By David Robert

Trinity Episcopal Church has services on Sundays at 7:45 a.m., 9:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. For other times, check out the calendar on the church’s Web site, www.trinityreno.org.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: This tour of Reno’s varieties of spiritual experience has added a layer to my understanding of a city I thought I knew well. I can’t begin to guess how many hours I’ve spent within a block of the Trinity Episcopal Church. I never really took note of the church, except when its bells pealed.

And I was missing something: It’s an absolutely lovely church with a real family vibe.

I attended the 10:30 a.m. service on Sunday. I was impressed with the traditional yet sumptuous design of the church. A smallish foyer gave entry into a sanctuary with wooden pews with red cushions and kneelers. I’d guess there’s room for about 500 people. The church has a gothic arch theme. A gothic arch is a narrow arch with a point at the top. The theme extended to the stained glass windows which rim the ceiling, supporting arches throughout the church, the shape of the sanctuary—almost everywhere. There were Stations of the Cross on the walls around the sanctuary.

The altar was tipped with three of the stained glass panels. (There were two distinct styles of stained glass in the church—beautiful work. Anybody working on that coffee-table book?) There was lots of choir seating on the dais, an altar with candles against the back wall, and a lectern to either side. There’s also a neat carved-wood crucifix near the altar. There’s an organ to the left, with the pipes above and to the right and at the rear of the sanctuary. This church is a classic, and well worth a look inside.

The service began with a procession, which is large and includes acolytes, choir, lay ministers and priest. I’m not going to go into the minutiae of the service. Suffice it to say, the Episcopalians really know how to do a ceremony. In style, it’s in between the Catholic mass and other Protestant services. Tradition and circumstance is emphasized throughout, but women seem to have a more important role than in many other churches.

The choir and traditional pipe organ really gives the service a “churchy” feel. The tones of an authentic pipe organ sure tug on the emotional strings, and the choir was quite good. One blond fellow, who sang a short solo in a sweet tenor, particularly stood out.

Interim Rector Rev. John Goddard and Rev. Karen Johanns played large roles in the service. Rev. Goddard is one of those charming speakers who exudes a good humor. Rev. Johanns is good as well. In fact, the whole service had an aura of good cheer among friends. I don’t recall who it was, but at one point somebody said, “And now for a very long reading from …” and everyone laughed.

Rev. Johanns gave the sermon based on the reading from Luke 14: 25-33. I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but I’ve heard many pastors take off on this particular passage. It’s the one that says, “If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple.”

She wasn’t up for sugar-coating Jesus’ statement. It’s a difficult passage, and I guess that’s why it’s so popular for sermonizing. She also put into context what a cross meant to first century Palestinians: a cheap method of torture and death.

“When we follow Jesus, we have the cross,” she said. “In modern society, that means giving up security, but we get to live in Christ’s kingdom forever.” A bit earlier, she also gave the comment that rang as clear as the bells in the belfry: “Give up the notion that the more stuff we own, the more important we must be.”