2016-11-10 / Faith Community


By James Merolla

Saints, both Biblical and local, animals, spirits and other holy images fill the space around and above the altar at Emmauel Church. Saints, both Biblical and local, animals, spirits and other holy images fill the space around and above the altar at Emmauel Church. Emmanuel Rededicates Historic Interior to Veterans

On Sunday, Nov. 13, Newport’s Emmanuel Church will be transported back in time.

Exactly 95 years ago – on another Sunday with the same November date – benefactress Natalie Bayard Brown gave the resplendent church, located on the corner of Dearborn and Spring streets, its remarkable central reredos (ornamental screens) and wall murals as a peace memorial for Armistice Day in honor of its 90 members who served in World War I.

On Nov. 13, the church community will rededicate the reredos, which are above the altar. Made of carved wood or stone, they are vivid in symbolism. Each Veterans Day Sunday henceforth, the church will commemorate these carved gifts through remarks made by a guest speaker – a noted veteran – who will reflect on their value and meaning.

This year’s speaker during both morning Masses will be a parishioner, Col. Brett Bartholomaus of the U.S. Marines Corps.

The event is steeped in history, as is the altar. Rising to the ceiling, three episodic wall murals, folk art masterpieces, depict dozens of images of saints, both Biblical and local. To the right of the altar, midway to the top, is the image of a saintly woman, draped in purple, kneeling and offering gifts.

“That is the image of Natalie Bayard Brown,” said the Rev. Anita Louise Schell, rector of Emmanuel, who will say the liturgy, and who has arranged the service’s music from the original dedication at the church exactly as it was played and sung 95 years before. “We are going to celebrate through the worship itself. The beauty of Emmanuel is that the liturgy is so deep in the Episcopal Church, it carries you to another place.”

The reredos’ inscription is a copy of the silver cover designed by Ralph Cabot Sturgis for a Bible given to John Nicholas Brown Sr. by his mother, Sophia Augusta Brown. In the middle is painted the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, standing with the banner of the Cross of Christ. The inscription reads: “It is great glory to follow the Lord, and to be received of Him is long life.”

Carved on the back wall of the reredos, behind the altar and unseen by the congregation, are the words:

“To the glory and praise of God in Thanksgiving for the bringing of peace out of the World War in gratitude to the men and women who served their God and country this reredos and these mural paintings are placed in Emmanuel Church by Natalie Bayard Brown that their beauty may be an inspiration to all who worship therein.

Dedicated on Armistice Sunday the thirteenth day of November AD 1921.”

The murals are individual panels painted on canvas by Robert Wade of Boston. They include not just angels, but also the powers of the Lord – the mind, poetry, painting, philosophy, day and night, thunder and lightning, whales, cattle, squirrels, and saints.

“There are so many layers at Emmanuel, all of these people who have come before us,” said Schell. “We build on these layers. It’s all about being connected. It isn’t that this is the past. It isn’t that this is the present. This is the future.”

Col. Bartholomaus has a long and distinguished military history, with 3,700 flight hours and numerous international and nationwide deployments.

“He is a member of the congregation with an illustrious career. People have no idea he’s a colonel,” said Lillian Hargrove, a retired school nurse and a lifelong parishioner who oversees the volunteers on the project. “He is very modest.”

“We are a community that prays for and supports all those in the military,” said Schell. “We invite all military members to this service.”

Going even deeper, organizers are attempting to locate or learn of the descendants and relatives of the 90 Emmanuel parishioners who served so valiantly in World War I. There is no complete list, but some of those who served a century ago from Newport include Frederick Huntington Townsend (confirmed on May 21, 1903); 2nd Lt. Harold Congdon Anthony, O.R.C. (confirmed on June 6, 1909); 1st Lt. Thomas William Freeman (confirmed on June 2, 1907); 2nd Lt. Harold Pearson Gibson, born Aug. 4, 1894, died 1956 (confirmed May 1, 1910); 2nd Lt. William Paine Sheffield, born Feb. 4, 1893 (confirmed June 8, 1913); and 2nd Lt. John Gibson Taylor, O.R.C., born Jan. 23, 1889 (confirmed May 21, 1903).

All are invited to join worship at the 8 or 10 a.m. services. Hargrove’s committee is also seeking an electric sanctuary light (not candlelit) to shine above the reredos.

Chapel Chamber Concert Series Continues

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 324 East Main Road, Portsmouth will hold a chamber concert on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. The program will include everything from Schubert and Beethoven to jazz standards and original compositions by a classical cellist and a jazz pianist from New York City, $20/ adult, $10/student under 18. 401- 846-9700.

Twelve Step Ladder to Freedom

Trinity Church, Queen Anne Square, offers a series of programs discussing Christian Scripture and AA's Twelve Steps. The Sunday, Nov. 13, discussion is entitled “The Pervasiveness of Freedom.” The Sunday, Nov. 20, discussion is entitled “Salvation as Intervention.” The programs will be held in Honyman Hall from 9-9:45 a.m., all are welcome to attend. 401-846-0660.

Faith On and Off the Field

Teal Bunbury, midfielder for the New England Revolution, will talk about his soccer career and the role his faith plays on and off the field on Sunday, Nov. 13, at Evangelical Friends Church at the 9 and 10:45 a.m. services. Bunbury will meet with the youth following the later service. The church is located at 70 Bliss Mine Road, Middletown. 401- 847-1490.

Feast of Dedication

St. John’s Church, 61 Poplar St., will offer a choral evensong and Benediction for the Feast of Dedication on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m. A reception will follow. A free will offering will be received. 401-848- 2561.

Happy Bookers Book Club

The United Congregational Church’s book group will meet on Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. and will discuss the book "The Kitchen House," by Kathleen Grissom. All are welcome. The church is located at 524 Valley Road, Middletown. 401-849-5444.

Thanksgiving Fundraiser

Help raise funds for our neighbors in need by making donations at the International Yacht and Athletic Club, 536 Thames St., Thursday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. Cash donations will be used to purchase fresh food, non-perishable food will be donated to the Martin Luther King Center, and gently-used coats will be given to the Seamen's Church Institute.

Warm Up Wednesdays

The community is invited to St. Paul’s Church, 12 Marlborough St., for Warm Up Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. Hot soup, hot chocolate, coffee, tea and other refreshments will be served. Upcoming dates are Nov. 16 and 30. Please note that Warm Up Wednesday will not be held on Nov. 23. 401-846-0966.

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