General Seminary chapel featured on prime time television

May 7, 2002

For the first time in its history the General Theological Seminary (GTS) has permitted commercial film production in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd, a landmarked space where seminarians have worshiped faithfully each day for the last 114 years. Personnel from 'Third Watch,' a drama series now its third season, spent an entire day filming in the chapel in mid-April. The prime time series centers around the daily life of New York City police, paramedics and firefighters on the 'third watch,' the shift from 3­11pm and is the work of the award-winning producers of 'ER' and 'The West Wing.' The episode featuring the GTS Chapel aired on NBC May 6.

Although many locations at the seminary have been used for film production in recent years, filming in the chapel has always been off-limits. The 'Third Watch' story line and its connection with the death of a firefighter on September 11 persuaded the seminary's dean, the Rev. Ward B. Ewing, to make an exception.

'So many of our students, faculty, and staff members helped with the relief effort in the weeks following 9/11 -- and continue to serve as chaplains and volunteers -- that we felt helping with the production of this tribute to those who had died was a worthy enterprise,' Ewing said.

The dean also based his decision on the critical acclaim the program has received as well as an agreement reached with the producers that the ceremonies portrayed in the episode would be those of the Episcopal Church. GTS doctoral student the Rev. J. Barrington Bates was asked by the producers to appear as the on-camera officiant and four current GTS students, Jay Rozendaal (Olympia), Heather Patton-Graham (Delaware), the Rev. Iris Peterson (Bethlehem), and Laurie Brock (Central Gulf Coast) appear in the episode as acolytes and assisting ministers. A number of GTS students also served as 'extras' in the scenes taking place outside the chapel.

'I knew we had found the right space as soon as I walked in,' said 'Third Watch' producer Brooke Kennedy, who also directed the episode. 'There's an unmistakable sense of holiness here -- a hallowed ambience that I hope we can capture on film.'