Cathedral of St. Paul
|Date Posted||March 25, 2019|
Northwestern Pennsylvania (Martha Ishman)
|Health Benefits||Full Family|
|Average Sunday Attendance||128|
|Child Population in Church School||21|
|Adult Population in Church School||80|
|Teacher Population in Church School||3|
The Cathedral of St. Paul is very much a congregation on the verge – and in a very good way. We enjoy healthy financial resources and an energetic and enthusiastic membership that has taken a lead in expanding the Cathedral’s outreach and mission in Erie over the past several years. The Cathedral’s homeless ministry and public school partnership are but two of several initiatives that have flourished due to the commitment and generosity of the congregation. Other hallmarks of the Cathedral are intelligent preaching, a strong music program and a high-quality liturgy that respects the best traditions of the Episcopal Church but also welcome all those who seek spiritual renewal. The foundation is clearly in place for the Cathedral to grow and spread the Gospel even more. The Cathedral is ready to develop and pursue a vision that can be extraordinary in its impact. And the Cathedral is ready to embrace a bold direction at the same time the city of Erie is remaking itself. As a downtown congregation, the Cathedral is particularly well situated to play a role in what has the potential to be a renaissance for Erie – an affordable city of nearly 100,000 people that is hard at work to transform itself from a manufacturing hub into a regional center for entrepreneurship, diversity, education, retail and tourism. The area has plenty of resources: four universities, a medical school, three hospitals, a vibrant arts culture and Lake Erie and Presque Isle State Park, whose seven miles of beaches attract more than 4 million visitors a year. From the time of its founding, in 1827, the church that became the Cathedral of St. Paul has been intertwined with Erie. We want to strengthen that bond and further help our city during this unprecedented moment of excitement and renewal.
Erie has yet to realize its full potential despite its efforts to change. The same can be said of the Cathedral. We need to undertake a hard and sustained review of how we can make the changes to move beyond any lingering complacency. How do we best engage and serve our four universities? How do we increase the congregation’s racial and ethnic diversity? How do we best join with other congregations in the diocese, especially the two nearest to the Cathedral, to work together in areas such as youth ministry? How do we best address the needs of our young and growing families through ministries such as church school? How do we become even more welcoming and hospitable to those around us – and to those who have left the Cathedral? And how can we become better connected to the neighborhoods that immediately surround the Cathedral? The congregation for years has been primarily composed of members who drive in from somewhere else. Over the past several years, the Cathedral has become more active in neighborhood events and organizations. The urban planner who developed Erie Refocused, the blueprint for the city’s future, has identified the renewal of the neighborhoods around the Cathedral as most critical to the city’s success. The Cathedral longs to move beyond itself in so many ways. The main challenge for the Cathedral is coming up with – and following – a plan for getting there.
The Cathedral of St. Paul anchors a well-maintained and spacious complex in the center of downtown Erie. The church is a historic treasure, but the Cathedral complex also includes updated office and gathering spaces that make the site an ideal spot for outreach, conferences, concerts and other diocesan and community events. The physical plant has no immediate infrastructure needs. The Cathedral is able to offer loan assistance for the purchase of a house. The leadership of the Cathedral enjoys a close working relationship with our Bishop, Sean Rowe, who is committed to working with the congregation and its new Dean to enhance the Cathedral’s role as the cathedral church of the diocese.
The Rev. Canon Martha Ishman