Canon Maria Tjeltveit
Church of the Mediator, Allentown
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place….
Now there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:1, 5
The story of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-13, began with people gathering together from all over the place. When the Holy Spirit came down on the first followers of Jesus, people from every nation were able to understand the praise of God in their own language. The whole Mediterranean world was represented by the list of different kinds of people who heard in amazement the disciples speaking about God’s deeds of power.
Sometimes it seems like our churches are pretty homogeneous. But some of our parishes embody diversity in their history as well as in their current congregations. Trinity Church, Easton, and Trinity Church, Mt. Pocono are two such parishes.
Trinity, Easton, was the third church in our diocese; started in 1819. The prosperous English members had a concern for the Italian immigrants in the Slate Belt who worked in the factories and as domestic workers. Trinity helped the diocese start St. Mary’s, Wind Gap, and St. Joseph’s, West Bangor. Descendants of those immigrants are still a part of Trinity and have been joined by African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, people from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Lebanon. A failed attempt to start a Spanish language service, a decade ago, resulted in second generation Latino families joining the parish. Trinity is diverse in other ways as well, with gay and lesbian couples and singles, people from other denominations who come for the liturgy, and a number of members of religious orders. “We never have to worry about having enough languages for our Pentecost celebration!” the rector says.
Trinity, Mt. Pocono, gathers people from a variety of places. It started as a summer chapel when a vacationing seminary professor (who was an Episcopal priest), architect, and property owner were inspired while worshiping with others on the front porch of a cabin. The church was consecrated in 1896, by a missionary bishop of Texas who traveled from Nova Scotia, where he was vacationing, to fill in for the diocesan bishop who was ill. While vacationers continue to swell their ranks, locals and people who have moved to the area now make up the parish. Transplants from New York and New Jersey, Latinos, Jamaicans and other Caribbean islanders, gay people, and straight people come together for worship, fellowship, and service. Singing hymns that reflect this diversity allows them to praise God in different languages and styles.
From where have the members of your congregation gathered?