HUNTINGTON, WV – 10/12/2016 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — In the midst of our frenzied, hectic world, it’s nice to hear good news. A priest goes to Rome. And he discovers a renewed sense of hope. The Rev. Dr. Chip Graves, an Episcopal priest serving Trinity Episcopal Church in Huntington, WV, takes a pilgrimage to Rome. Dr. Graves had been to Rome before, some 35 years ago. And he’s not new to travel, having done missionary work across the globe. But this trip was different, life changing.
Beyond the aesthetic beauty found in ancient Rome, Dr. Graves discovered a renewed sense of hope. Within the past two weeks, Dr. Graves, along with 25 other Episcopal clergy and friends, toured many of Rome’s ancient Christian sites. At every turn, they discovered the love of God in worship, art, and architecture. For thousands of years, Christians had come to these sacred places to worship God. However, the most compelling experience on this journey was not found in the past; but in the contemporary. A Christian worship service held during this trip, a once-in-a-lifetime worship experience with Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
The tour included a vast array of ancient Christian memorials, parishes and artwork. Each and every one compelling and for different reasons. For example, a tour of Christian catacombs, dating back to the first century AD. Fresco laden volcanic rock walls enveloped the very first Christians laid to rest. Amazingly, there were over 500,000 buried in one particular site. The tour then visited numerous local parishes, dating back to the 3rd century AD. All ornate. All beautiful. And all sacred. One only had to close their eyes and envision worship in these places over the past hundreds of years; thousands of years.
The group was sponsored by the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes, an association of Episcopal parishes throughout the United Sates. The consortium supports endowed Episcopal parishes to collaborate, network, learn, and foster new possibilities for the Episcopal Church. Encompassing over 160 parishes with over 700 million dollars in assets, the consortium is a leader in supporting the clergy, administration and lay leadership within Episcopal parishes.
The Consortium, in collaboration with the Anglican Centre in Rome, developed a wonderful tour of ancient Rome and its Christian roots. Dr. Graves recalls visiting many of these wonderful sites to include the Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Forum, St Paul’s Basilica and the proposed site of St. Paul’s incarceration several feet below a present day palace in central Rome. Dr. Graves indicated that this specific site brought new life to his understanding of the New Testament.
However, the most memorable experience for Dr. Graves was a Vespers worship service held in the San Gregorio parish. San Gregorio is now the site of a Roman Catholic monastery, dating back several hundred years. Many historians believe it to be closely connected to the beginning of the Anglican Church. Pope Gregory the Great, in the 6th century AD, dispatched St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, on a mission trip to reconvert the Anglo Saxons. Although the Anglican Church did not formally break away from the Catholic Church until the 16th century, St. Augustine’s mission became the precursor to what we now know as the worldwide Anglican Church.
Dr. Graves recalls this sacred worship in San Gregorio, witnessing the joint effort of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. The worship was led by Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. Primates, Bishops, and Cardinals from around the world were in attendance, including the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry.
The service was described as one of reconciliation, renewal and a renewed sense of hope for the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches. Pope Francis and the Archbishop declared a focus on what they have in common instead of their differences; their common in faith and their common in Baptism. They committed to a continued dialogue and engagement, beginning with new work together on safeguarding the environment, fighting poverty and extremism around the world. In the end, Dr. Graves, an Episcopal priest from a small parish in West Virginia, returned home to the United States with a renewed sense of hope.
Distributed by Press Release Jet
Company Name: Trinity Episcopal Church
Contact Person: The Rev. Dr. Chip Graves
Country: United States