Restoration of Lindsey Chapel Reredos

At the instigation of the late Sam Mygatt and in loving memory of him, funds have been raised to replace three alabaster statues and repair the altar screen behind them. Sculptor Simon Verity has fashioned from Ninian Comper’s drawings replacement statues of saints Genevieve of Paris, Eulalia of Mérida, and Teresa of Ávila. Our Building Commission has contracted with Decorative Art Restoration of Salem MA to re-paint parts of the altar screen and clean the statues which have accumulated a century of soot.  Julian Bullitt has made a display indexing the statues. Continue reading

North Wall Preservation Project: First Week

March 31 to April 4

We are officially underway! During this week we were notified that the Back Bay Architectural Commission had approved our project by administrative review and our contractor has received building and sidewalk permits. On Wednesday our contractor,  Jack Aniceto came to Emmanuel for our first construction meeting. These will be regular meetings every Wednesday morning at 10, following on the weekly Building Commission meeting. Julian and I took Jack up into the attic where the very first activity took place- we fastened safety lines to the roof trusses and let them out through the hatch at the gable peak. These will be used to secure the safety of workers who are erecting the scaffolding, which is scheduled to commence today. Continue reading

Inhabitants of Our Building


Our building is a home and resource for a dynamic group of programs and organizations who partner with us to preserve this historic structure and project our ideals of justice, spirituality, and art into the community of the Boston metropolitan area. As is often the case with urban churches, Emmanuel Church was built for a large and very affluent congregation, which migrated to the suburbs during the mid-twentieth century, leaving a small congregation responsible for a large, historic, and expensive edifice. We view our building as a resource for ourselves and for the larger community of the city of Boston. We have found that by careful management and partnership with a wide variety of programs and institutions, we have been able to maintain our historic building while supporting our missions of Social Justice and the Arts.

Although in a typical week the congregation of Emmanuel Episcopal Church holds only one worship service, our building calendar shows between 30 and 40 events of many different types, run by many different organizations. In addition we provides a home for a women’s shelter, an outreach program for the homeless men, two resident artists, and, of course, offices for Emmanuel Church, Emmanuel Music, and Central Reform Temple. Sometimes it seems like Grand Central Station in the lobby! Taking Wednesdays as one example, the morning starts at 6 A.M. with worship by our friends “Spring of Boston” an organization of young Korean Presbyterians. There is a full day art studio for people who are homeless, as well as Boston Benevolent chiropractic, who treat the homeless; two AA chapters; and rehearsals for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. Thus the building frequently serves more than 1,500 people in the course of the day, almost every day.

Organizations that use the building are affiliated with various faiths, or are completely secular; our choice to be in community with them is based on the good work they do. The building commission aggressively manages the building to achieve maximum economy and minimum environmental impact. We monitor the building systems very closely and have reduced our energy consumption significantly in recent years. We have developed a comprehensive “building manual” to aid the efficient running of the building and schedule maintenance on a proactive basis. We manage this by utilizing staff from Community Work Services an innovative organization that helps adults transform their lives through employment, thus we support their mission while they support ours.