At trinity church, aiming to be 'more present'

| 13 Sep 2016 | 08:01

The Rev. William Lupfer arrived as rector at Trinity Church on Wall Street last year. He's been plenty busy ever since.

The Episcopal parish is steeped in American history — Lupfer is the 18th rector since 1689 — and at Trinity parish there's also a school, St. Paul's Chapel nearby and there will soon be a new building. As rector, Lupfer oversees the diocese and many ministries around the world, including in Asia, Africa and South America. He has been traveling extensively, becoming acquainted with “stakeholders and friends of the church,” including the Archdiocese of Canterbury.

A mandate from the church's board: amp up Trinity's ministry in New York, specifically downtown. Lupfer says, “We feel we need to be more present in the downtown community even more deeply than we already are.”

Under Lupfer's leadership, new projects include the construction that's underway of a new building behind the church. It will consist of five floors of space shared between the parish and the neighboring community. The upper floors, a tower above, will consist of commercial renters.

Working closely with community residents and architects, a design was finalized that he says is in perfect alignment with the community's and church's visions. One of the programs Lupfer also implemented upon taking his post is a family service at St. Paul's on Sunday mornings; it's drawing increasing numbers of people of all ages. Lupfer describes Sunday mornings as a time of worship, but also as a source of “nourishment and support” so that parionshers can participate in promoting healing in the world.

“The point is that families can get involved. They don't have to just read the news headlines. They can learn about what the issues and problems are, come together at Trinity with others, and start to build solutions, rather than just being afraid,” Lupfer says.

Trinity served as a refuge during 9/11, and continues to offer services and programs honoring those victims. Those programs include prison ministry, supporting women whose husbands or partners are in prison, as well as their children. In addition to the many religious programs and services held there, Trinity Church and St. Paul's chapel are popular sites visited by tourists from around the world. Their graveyards hold the remains of many famous Americans, including Alexander Hamilton. And George Washington is known to have prayed at St. Paul's after his inauguration as President. There are also many concerts and events for the public.

Lupfer says Trinity's location on Wall Street is also important. “We've been at the same site for 320 years. We've seen a lot, and we talk privately with people with influence in the Wall Street community about our values, about the values of full inclusion. We had a big conference in the last two years about income inequality and about race and racism,” he says.

And he's looking to the future.

“Next year we're having a big conference on water, and free access to clean water. We're looking at Flint, Michigan. So we do use our position at the head of Wall Street to push towards social justice and full inclusion and compassion toward all — the values that drive us,” Lupfer says. “But the heart of our community is the deep conversation about God's call about healing in this world.”