Second video in healthy congregation series features Phoenix cathedral

March 1, 2011

Changing with the neighborhood and addressing the needs of the community are the hallmarks for healthy congregational practices at Phoenix's Trinity Cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.

"In many ways, it has been the cathedral that led the way toward urban renewal in downtown Phoenix," the Rev. Bob Honeychurch, Episcopal Church officer for congregational vitality, said in a Feb. 28 press release from the church's Office of Public Affairs.

Trinity Cathedral is the focus of the second of five videos in the series "Transforming Churches, Changing the World," produced by the Episcopal Church's Office of Communication. The video is available here, as is the first in the series which focused on Christ Church in Philadelphia, which offers innovative ministries that bridge the historic church and surrounding community.

A new video will be released each month through May. The purpose of the video project is to present identifying characteristics of healthy churches, with a focus on ministry and outreach, according to the release.

"Trinity Cathedral is anchored in their neighborhood," Honeychurch said in the release. "The congregation tailored their ministry to be directly responsive to the needs of the neighborhood and the result was serious community work. And that's a vital characteristic of a healthy congregation – they take their neighborhood very seriously."

In the video, the Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, cathedral dean, explains that "in the 1960s, like other large cities, people began moving out of the city" and at one point, the cathedral had 20 members.

The decision was made to change things in all areas, according to the release. For example, the original Sunday worship schedule expanded from two morning services to its present five services on Sunday morning, noon and evening.

Today, the cathedral welcomes between 420 and 450 worshippers on Sundays. "We're hoping to hit 500 by Christmas," the dean said in the release.

Another significant change was the offering of worship services and community events in both English and Spanish. And, Knisely said, the cathedral is not just bilingual but bicultural because he believes it is important understating the culture, in addition to speaking the language.

"The changes they made to the worship schedule and the community activities show openness and incorporating the Latino population," Honeychurch said in the release. "Faith communities should incorporate the giftedness of local communities – music, language, food, culture – and recognize them all as gifts. Trinity Cathedral did that, and these expressions of faith were attractive and energizing to both the Latino and Anglo communities."

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