After moving to NYC, I worked for a midtown fabric company, and discovered a beautiful little church on a side street. It figures that a singer would stumble upon the famous “Little Church Around the Corner”, known as the “Actors Church”, or The Church of the Transfiguration (it is actually an Episcopal Church, but there’s also a Catholic actors church–St. Malachy’s).
The history of the church is one of acceptance. Since performers travel all the time, they weren’t in any one city consistently enough to be considered church members, and therefore many churches would not allow them to be married, baptize their children–or even be buried on their property. I’ve discovered that since most cemeteries were church-owned, in centuries past, many famous actors were buried in pet cemeteries, or african-american churchyards. A famous singer–who was the toast of the Main Line set– died in her hotel after a concert in Philadelphia in the 1950’s. It took the authorities a week to find somewhere to bury her.
“The Little Church Around the Corner” has a proud heritage of inclusion and commitment to helping those in need, hosting a diverse community embracing all people, across a vast spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation and economic backgrounds, as full members of the body of Christ. (One of the attached photos is the full explanation of the church’s name, which supposedly dates back to Thomas Jefferson).
But beyond all that, the church is an oasis of quiet in the middle of the Midtown New York City, the entrance set back from the street, with a garden and fountain in front. The interior is full of dark woods, and it is incredibly soothing to just go inside, sit, and think your own thoughts….
How wonderful that in this age of churches that are insisting their mission is exclusion, that there are some who practice inclusion….