Red Doors and New Gardens: Calvary Underhill Bids Fond Farewell to Rector
There’s an old gospel song that says, “Give me my flowers, while I yet live, so that I can see the beauty that they bring.” If you ask the Rev. Dr. Regina Christianson about flowers, she’ll show you a picture of a red door, a parting gift from the people of Calvary Episcopal Church in Underhill, Vermont.
The Rev. Dr. Christianson and her husband, Stephen Whiteley, will be leaving next week for the town of Chatham, Virginia, where she will begin two new roles as rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church and Episcopal Chaplain for Chatham Hall, a girls’ college-preparatory boarding school and an Episcopal foundation. Mr. Whiteley will be teaching private music lessons.
Even as they look forward to the challenges that await them, the flowers of Calvary Episcopal are in full bloom.
The Rev. Dr. Christianson explains, “The picture will not only remind me of the people of Calvary and our journey of the past four-and-a-half years, it will evoke so much more—memory and myth, method and grace, meaning-making and practical expertise, a theology of abundance and identifying resources.”
When Calvary Episcopal—known locally as “the church with the red doors”—was in dire need of a new set, it was hardly a minor task. Painstaking effort was made to identify a solution that would support environmental stewardship by improving energy efficiency in the 150-year-old building. Additionally, the new doors would have to preserve the character of the original architecture, a difficult task given the custom design of the original doors. Finally, the solution would have to be affordable.
They were able to obtain a grant from the Walter P. Irish Fund to replace the doors, ensuring that they had a viable worship space, and empowering them to continue their local mission.
It’s a local mission that has included a grief support group, mediation groups, Celtic Spirituality Retreats, monthly community meals, rummage sales, and outreach to organizations, including Brookhaven Treatment and Learning Center andthe Ecumenical Community Food Shelf. It’s a local mission where Mr. Whiteley served as the musician, and the choir sang of a love that even their new red doors couldn’t contain.
The paint has dried. The boxes are packed. And next week, the Reverend and her husband will be planting flowers in a new garden.
To some, it’s just a picture of a red door. To others, like the Rev. Dr. Christianson and the people of Calvary Episcopal, it’s a story of unconditional welcome, a symbol of God’s grace and abundance, and flowers that will continue to blossom for years to come.