REENFIELD — In the morning, one congregation takes Communion with grape juice in individual cups. In the afternoon, another dips wafers into or drinks from a common chalice of wine.
In one service, the table on stage is largely decorative. In another, it’s the altar.
Both congregations worship at South and Pennsylvania streets. And since First Presbyterian Church recently opened its doors to the Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit, the churches have chosen to focus more on what they have in common than on what is different between them.
The Anglican church has been meeting in First Presbyterian’s building at 116 W. South St. since Jan. 4. Before that, the congregation met at Chapel in the Park in Riley Park. It was a nice setting, but sometimes it was hard to find the right time slot.
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The Rev. Father Todd Bragg was serving another parish when he became priest at Holy Spirit. At 9:30 a.m. Sundays, he celebrates Mass at St. Margaret Anglican Church, which meets in the Chapel at Marquette Manor retirement community on Township Line Road in Indianapolis. That meant his parish in Greenfield needed an afternoon worship time.
The Chapel in the Park, on the other hand, is the site of various events, including monthly Hancock County Historical Society meetings Sunday afternoons. Sometimes Holy Spirit had to meet at a different time, sometimes on Saturday night.
Bragg said the setting was beautiful, and people were nice to the church; but amid the time switches, the congregation was looking for something more stable.
The feeling was mutual with the Hancock County Historical Society, President Brigette Jones said, adding that the organization would welcome another church tenant in the chapel.
“We were very happy with the Anglican church, but they lost their (earlier) priest and could no longer meet on Sunday mornings,” Jones said in an email. “We were having to bump their services due to our meetings and weddings, which wasn’t conducive to them growing their church.”
Holy Spirit Anglican Church approached First Presbyterian Church. Some of its members had worshiped there in 2008, when an Anglican church was getting started in Greenfield. That was before Bragg’s tenure and before that of the Rev. Patricia Reid, pastor of First Presbyterian. But each had heard that “there had been that relationship in the past, and that had worked well,” Reid said.
So when the request came, Reid took it to her church’s governing board.
“There was not a negative comment at all,” she said. “Nobody had a single negative thing to say.”
Neither does the Holy Spirit congregation.
“The building is really in an excellent location in Greenfield,” Holy Spirit member Becky Smoot said. “We decided we just love this Presbyterian church. It’s got all the amenities, including the elevator,” which is helpful for some of her fellow parishioners, and a large kitchen downstairs.
For that access, the Anglican congregation pays the same price it did at Chapel in the Park, $50 a service, which Smoot said is very reasonable “when it comes with organs and everything you need.”
“It helps them maintain this beautiful building, and it’s very cost-effective for us,” Smoot said.
First Presbyterian Church worships at 10:30 a.m. Sundays. Afterward, members pick up stray bulletins and try to be good hosts. Holy Spirit Anglican Church worships at 1 p.m. Afterward, its members put things back where they found them and lock up, trying to be good guests.
Now that they worship under one roof, the congregations plan to organize some joint events.
For example, next week a joint Ash Wednesday service will be conducted at 7 p.m. Fr. Todd Bragg will preach on a verse from 2 Corinthians: “In the time of my favor, I heard you, and in the day of my salvation, I helped you.”
Reid said it’s remarkable that the churches can conduct joint events because, in some aspects of their theology and church government, “we’re miles apart.”
For example, Holy Spirit is part of the Anglican Church in America, which does not ordain women as priests.
Nevertheless, she and Bragg will serve Communion together on Maundy Thursday.
“I’m really excited about that,” she said.
Though there are differences between the churches, both clergy members said they are interested in focusing on what their churches have in common.
“In some ways we’re different, but in other ways we’re very much similar,” Bragg said.
For example, both believe “Christ came to bring us salvation and forgiveness of sins,” Reid said, and Bragg nodded.
“We are joining together, despite any differences we may have,” Bragg said. “As our Lord says, ‘That they may be one.’”
Reid also referred to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, as recorded in the 17th chapter of the Gospel of John.
“Christ prayed that we might all be one,” she said. “I am overjoyed at this step.”