A Canterbury tale at Champaign's Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal

A Canterbury tale at Champaign's Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal

CHAMPAIGN — A centuries-old piece of stone from England's mother church is getting a new home at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in downtown Champaign.

The stone was once part of the Great South Window at Canterbury Cathedral and was obtained as a result of a restoration project.

The Champaign church is installing it as part of a year-long anniversary celebration of its building at 208 W. University Ave., according to the rector, the Rev. Beth Maynard.

One of the local church's parishioners, James Swartz, lives part of the year in England and bought the stone piece as a gift for Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal, Maynard said.

The stone was installed Tuesday in the back wall of the church. A dedication ceremony is planned to be part of the 10:15 a.m. Mass coming up Sunday.

Maynard calls this stone a unique commemorative treasure for her church.

It's a corner piece that dates back to 1428, she said.

Canterbury Cathedral is the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the U.S. is a part, Maynard said.

"So there's an actual connection of having a piece of our mother church," she said.

The restoration of Canterbury Cathedral's Great South Window was a seven-year project completed in November 2016. Where it was possible, the stone from the window was repaired and replaced, but unused masonry, some dating back to the 15th century, was offered at auction last September to raise money for future work at the cathedral, according to its website.

Receiving this piece of stone has been exciting for the roughly 400 members of Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church, Maynard said.

"We're deeply touched by James Swartz's generosity," she said.

The dedication ceremony Sunday will include a visit by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Kent, the Viscount De L'Isle MBE. The church choir has also found a 15th century piece of music written at Canterbury Cathedral, and will perform it at the ceremony.

The stone will be presented by Swartz, and will be offered and dedicated "with prayer as a permanent witness to God's glory and human artistry," Maynard said.

Want to see this bit of history for yourself, but you're not a member of Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal?

History and architecture buffs, Anglophiles and others can join church members for the service and ceremony Sunday, Maynard said.

The church seats about 200 people, and visitors are always welcome, she said.

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BruckJr wrote on September 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Nice story.  Thank you.