The process of merging the congregation of the Church of St John the Evangelist, Bowdoin Street into the Sunday Morning Congregation of the Cathedral Church of St Paul, Tremont Street started in late 2012. Joint worship services were held at Bowdoin St starting in May 2014, and the merged congregation moved to the newly renovated Tremont Street facility in November 2015.
From a financial perspective, the merger made complete sense. Proceeds from the sale of the Bowdoin Street property would suffice to allow the renovation of the Tremont Street space to be completed, to the benefit of the entire Diocese, not just the Cathedral's resident congregations. Emotionally, it meant that the beloved Bowdoin Street property would be sold and its furnishings dismantled. Cynics cried "takeover."
What made the process more than a mere takeover were the care and respect paid to the history, tradition, and sensibility of Bowdoin Street -- as shown in the inclusion of the Chapel of St John the Evangelist within the renovated space, the included artifacts brought from Bowdoin Street, and worship style elements included in the current worship service. This care and respect was in turn made possible by attention paid to listening and getting to know one another as people, a process eased by the assistance of diligent, knowledgeable, and caring diocesan staff.
The merger began on Bowdoin Street. During a time of extensive renovations to our Cathedral Church of St. Paul, it was temporarily closed; and so, the St. Paul’s community worshipped at St. John’s. Meanwhile, the traditional Cathedral Church was transformed into a very modern and open space, with liturgical flexibility, modern art, and multiple spaces for prayers, spiritual formation, and public advocacy. Additionally, a small chapel, called St. John’s Chapel, was created to honor the Bowdoin Street community and our previous Bishop Diocesan, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw. When it was time to open our Cathedral doors again, St. John’s then closed its doors, and some community members came to worship at St. Paul’s. This merger began with a solemn procession that started at Bowdoin Street and ended at 138 Tremont Street on Sunday morning, September 27, 2015.
The transitions that began with the merger and the Cathedral renovation continue today. Two very different communities of faith are now one. Traditional church space is gone. Our one community gathers together on Sunday mornings, where we continue to worship God, while honoring the traditions, styles, and desires of all God’s people; for we are a varied and diverse group of people, representing many aspects of Christ’s Body. We are small and still finding our way. Living into our diocesan mission strategy, we are “embracing brave change”, beginning to “reimagine our cathedral” while we “build relationships” and “engage our world.”
We are a “House of Prayer for All God’s People,” and we welcome and invite anyone to worship with us throughout the week. The Sunday morning community gathers at 10 a.m. for Holy Eucharist in our sanctuary, where we gather in “the round”, with the altar at our center, so that Christ may feed us for our ministry in the world.
Imagine how we will shape our common life for the future!
Imagine how we will work across differences to build our relationships up in love!
Imagine how we will seek justice and peace with our neighbors, near and far!
Be part of the continuing renovation, resurrection, and renewal of our Cathedral Church of St. Paul!