Renovated Sanctuary and New Organ Dedicated in Worship
Sunday, April 7, 2013
A Celebration of Our Past, in Honor of Our Future
It was a glorious morning, as we celebrated the completion of a project which we hope will serve generations to come. Former pastors Joe Bishop and J. Barrie Shepherd joined our current pastoral staff in leading worship; organ builder/designer Burton K. Tidwell, who had served for several years as our organist, shared the organ bench with current organist/Director of Music Jeffrey DeVault; and tenor William Yeats (former Director of Music) provided the Benediction response. The architects and craftsmen who had breathed life into our hopes and dreams were among us as both the renovated chancel and new organ were dedicated and all of those who have made it possible blessed and thanked. Thanks to member Charlie Seymour Jr., you can enjoy both the sermon by J. Barrie Shepherd and much of the organ music played by Burton K. Tidwell and Jeffrey DeVault even if you were not here in person. Thanks be to God for the many, many members and friends who have mad this possible.
Sanctuary Renovations Complete
New Sunday Morning Schedule Effective November 18
It has been, and continues to be, a journey. Since the day after Easter, when the work involved in re-shaping of the sanctuary gave birth to a reshaped Sunday morning schedule, we have been travelling together. It has been a great trip! At 9:00 in Loeffler Chapel we have tasted a new form of worship that we are reluctant to leave behind. At 11:00 in Fellowship Hall we have been called together by a bell that reminds us of our heritage and we think we’d like to have that in the sanctuary that is so rich with our past and full of future. Classes for children and adults have taken place in new times and spaces and we have learned quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t as well as what we set out to study each week. But we long for a time of fellowship that does not compete with other activities and we miss seeing those who have been worshipping at a different time. So we return “home” with plans to keep the best of what we have experienced and find ways to restore what seems to have been missing.
Beginning Sunday, November 18, it looks like this:
8:30 am Early Worship (Loeffler Chapel)
9:30 am Education (Adults – Fellowship Hall, Study; Children – McCahan classrooms)
10:30 am Church Family Worship (Loeffler Chapel) and Traditional Worship (Sanctuary)
11:30 am Fellowship (Fellowship Hall)
Charlie Seymour, Jr. has captured the entire Traditional Worship service on our first Sunday in the renovated sactuary on video and invites yu to enjoy it on YouTube.
Fall Fair 2012
Video captures one of our favorite community events
He's done it again! Charlie Seymour has captured everything but the smells of sausage and seafood in this colorful documentary of this year's Fall Fair. Enjoy it on YouTube.
Sunday Morning Re-formed
Sanctuary Renovations Create New Worship Opportunities
The fact that we would need an additional worship service while renovations to the sanctuary were underway was obvious; there simply isn't room for the number of people that typically worship on Sunday morning to squeeze into another space in the building all at the same time. So the re-creation of morning worship began months ago as our pastors and representatives from various committees began to meet and share ideas. One of the most exciting things to emerge was the commitment to try a new style of worship that had been on the minds of a number of members for a number of years but had not, until now, seemed practical. What emerged on the Sunday after Easter - like a butterfly from its cocoon - was a shift in schedule that includes three services:
- 8:00 am - the same intimate service in Loeffler Chapel that has been an alternative to larger more formal worship for many years.
- 9:00 am - a new "church family worship" service in Loeffler Chapel that is a little shorter than our traditional service, includes many opportunities for active participation, and embraces more contemporary music.
- 11:00 am - the traditonal worship service we have long enjoyed at an earlier time, transplanted to Fellowship Hall, where the high ceiling and windowed walls create great acoustics and a wonderful view of the Courtyard in bloom.
Member and videographer Charlie Seyomour has captured the energy of our first morning in this new configuration on video and we invite you to enjoy the results on YouTube: Sunday, April 15.
Chancel Renovations Underway!
Original 1895 Bell Returns to SPC
In the fall of 1895, the newly organized Swarthmore Presbyterian Church hired the architectural firm of William Lightfoot Price, Architects to design a new church sanctuary. A young architect named J.B. Rush, who worked under Price’s direction, executed an attractive Arts and Crafts design for the sanctuary, modeled after a historic chapel in Brittany, France. Rush’s intimately-scaled design included a distinctive stone-base-and-shingle-spire bell tower, where a single bronze bell was hung in September of 1896. Rush’s bell tower was demolished in 1922, however, to accommodate the doubling of the sanctuary's size in the renovations then taking place. Although an ambitious replacement bell tower design for SPC was drawn up in 1923 by Architect Walter Price (William Price’s brother), it was never constructed. The grand scale of Walter Price’s replacement bell tower (similar in size to Swarthmore College's Clothier Tower) far exceeded the congregation’s finite budget, according to Session records. So, without a bell tower to properly house the bronze bell anymore, the SPC Session decided to gift the bell, in December of 1923, to our neighbor congregation, Leiper Presbyterian Church on Fairview Avenue.
For the past nine decades the subject bronze bell has been rung every Sunday morning at Leiper Church, as part of their call to worship. Sadly, in January of 2012, the Leiper Presbyterian congregation disbanded, and the bell’s fate was put into the hands of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. Tara Stephenson, who serves as a Trustee at Presbytery, petitioned the organization in January to honor SPC’s request to re-acquire the Leiper Bell. At their February meeting, the Presbytery Board agreed unanimously that the bell should be returned to Swarthmore Presbyterian Church. On Friday morning, March 16, 2012, the bell was carefully transported from the Leiper Church sanctuary to SPC by Doug Harnsberger and Ken Hull, members of our Property Committee.
The long-forgotten SPC bell has come home! May the handsome, century-plus-old bronze bell soon make a joyful noise again for its historic church of origin.
Click on a photo below to view the slideshow:
Or click on the link The Bell Returns to enjoy the video Charlie Seymour has created to share the story in sound as well as color.