The Rev. Dr. Patrick Malloy, Professor of Liturgy and Associate Dean of General Seminary, is featured in the new issue of Faith & Form, the quarterly journal of the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture (IFRAA), part of The American Institute of Architects, for his leadership of the award-winning liturgical renovation of Grace Church in Allentown, PA. IFRAA will bestow the 2012 Religious Art & Architecture award next June in Denver, Colorado.
Grace Church’s project was chosen in the Liturgical/Interior Design category for the 2008-2009 renovation of its worship space, for which Dean Malloy, then rector of the parish, was both the liturgical consultant and “general contractor.” Founded in 1978, the annual IFFRA awards honor the best in architecture, liturgical design, and art for religious spaces.
Today, Dean Malloy, who holds a doctorate in liturgy and a doctoral minor in architecture, is offering his expertise to General Seminary. One of his courses, Churches for Common Prayer, invites students to explore the intersection of architecture, art, and liturgy, and how they meet to shape the experience of sacred space. “I wished to provide a context in which students could consider how space and the liturgies we celebrate in those spaces interact. How might liturgical spaces be designed to inspire a community’s ways of celebrating? Those who plan liturgy, too, must conceive of the liturgy spatially: how it will inhabit the space.”
The course includes historical and theoretical grounding as well as field trips to architecturally compelling churches. “The class hit the road to visit historic and contemporary churches here in New York and during a day-long pilgrimage to the Philadelphia area,” said Anne Rieselbach, a Master of Arts degree student who, by day, serves as the Program Director for The Architectural League of New York. “We explored how a collection of churches ‘worked.'” Students visited the colonial example of Christ Church in Philadelphia, where The Episcopal Church was founded; the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral, a striking contemporary renovation of a Romanesque space; and Grace Church, Allentown, where they joined the community for a Eucharistic celebration.
“The course was a wonderful way to convince many of us raised on the legacy of the Gothic Revival of the wider-built landscape,” said Mark Genszler, a Master of Divinity student preparing for ordination. “More importantly, when we visited Grace, Allentown, we were able to experience the liturgical assumptions of the 1979 Prayer Book in a space beautifully and sensitively adapted by the community that worships in it. The received hierarchy of a Gothic space was thoughtfully renovated into a space that forms the community around Baptism and Eucharist.”
Dean Malloy also has been introducing the Seminary to other experts in architectural design for churches. Earlier this year, he invited Richard S. Vosko, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, one of the nation’s leading consultants on church architecture and liturgical design, to join him in presenting A Space for Common Prayer, a day-long continuing education event. “New churches bear little resemblance to traditional forms of architecture and there is little if any familiar sacred art inside,” according to Vosko. “What is going on? Is there room for a tradition like The Episcopal Church to design and build beautiful places for worship? What are the new directions in the field of religious art and architecture that are worthy of our investigation?” Similarly, Dean Malloy invited the Very Rev. Richard Giles, author of Re-Pitching the Tent: Re-Ordering the Church Building for Worship and Mission, who had served as dean of the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral during its renovation, to speak from England with students, using the Seminary’s state-of-the-art distance-learning technology.
All of this, Dean Malloy envisions, is part of the seminary community’s gradual learning for liturgical renewal, similar to what the people of Grace Church, Allentown experienced. “For many years, the congregation had engaged in an education process about how we viewed ourselves in the worship space and what we thought we were doing when we were worshiping,” said Grace Church’s Senior Warden, Libby House. “We grew together as a community.”
In thinking about the redesign, House added, the parish “got the sense that space should be flexible, it should be open, it should be simple, and it should be very usable.” The uses would include, she said, outreach to the community, such as when the worship space needed to become an emergency shelter. Of importance, too, was the realization that the congregation wished to transform the space so that they could face one another in worship. “It was not just about the space. It was about how we experience God in that place,” House explained. “We see Christ not only in the Bread and the Wine, but also in the faces of one another as we worship.”
To see photographs of the winners of the 2012 IFRAA awards, including Grace Church, Allentown, click here.
To read more about the renovation of Grace Church, Allentown, click here for an article published by the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem.