Bill: Hi friends, my name is Bill Evertsberg and I’m one of the ministers at Kenilworth Union Church and this is Doogie, my assistant minister. I’m so pleased to have this wonderful guest today. This is the Reverend Doctor Jason Parkin, who is the rector at Church of the Holy Comforter, which is directly across the street from Kenilworth Union Church.
Jason, when we arrive for church every morning we park right in front of your church and wonder what goes on within those walls.
Jason: You know, it’s still a mystery to me after nine and a half years here. We laugh because we notice, you know, our services are staggered such that the parking is sort of constantly going back and forth.
Our worship, we have gone back to something similar to what we did before the pandemic. We’re doing an 8:00 service, very traditional in the church. We do a 9:15 service out here in the cloister, weather permitting, and then we do an 11:00 service back in the church, but unfortunately we are not able to have singing, can’t have fellowship afterwards, and all sorts of things to we’re used to.
Bill: Do you have soloists singing hymns or anthems for you?
Jason: We don’t. Our diocese has said no singing whatsoever, even masked, and so we are using—oh that’s just an old glove—we’re using recorded music, pre-record music. Our choir sometimes will do an anthem together on Zoom, be creative and play that during the service. We are bringing in professional string players to offer solos during and before the service. We’re also using some of our kids from the church, guitar, cello, piano, as prelude music and so forth so we at least have some music. And of course the organ, but no singing which is very hard for us as I’m sure for you not being able to do congregational singing.
Bill: Yes, very hard not to be able to do hymns, although we do use soloists who sing the hymns on our behalf, even inside. So Jason describe this beautiful little space we’re in right now. You call this the cloisters?
Jason, The cloister, or the Columbarium Cloister. It is the place where we have five different sections on this side and one on the south side where beloved members of the church are already interred or inured or will be someday, and so this was established.
This cloister was established over the decades. The rectory was built in 1927, the church in 1902. It was enclosed on that side in the 1930s and on this side in the 1940s so we now have the sort of nice, quiet, very lovely holy place that we’ve used for outdoor worship in the summer for probably 30 years, so we’re very used to it and as i mentioned before we started my own father is right here in this wall, but someday—under the angel—but someday we’ll go over there whenever my mother joins him. Jan and I also will be there. So the Columbarian Cloister.
Bill: A very sacred space, almost looks like it was built to be an outdoor worship theater. And what’s beautiful, this is the day after All Souls Day and here we are surrounded by all this, all the souls.
Jason: When we were moving back and announced in San Francisco that we were returning to a church I’d served before several people asked my wife, you know, do you know any of the neighbors? And she thought about all these folks said, “Well yeah I know dozens of them, as it turns out.”
Bill: So Jason let’s go into your sacred space inside and you can tell us about your experience at the Church of the Holy Comforter.
Jason this is such a beautiful sacred space here. Tell me about your interesting history with Church of the Holy Comforter. You’ve been here a couple times, right?
Jason: I have, yeah. Good memory, Bill. I was here as the senior associate from 1987 to 1991. I started first in a church in Hinsdale and I was here for about four years and then was gone for 20 years to different parts of the country.
Bill: Where else have you served, Jason?
Jason: Iowa City Trinity Church, Iowa City, Iowa, and then Saint Mary of the Virgin in sort of the heart of San Francisco, and then returned back here from there and followed my predecessor, my mentor, my dear friend Bob Myers who’s here for 25 years, so sort of almost a seamless, I hope seamless, succession. So I’ve only been here nine and a half years but I’ve actually been here 13 and a half years or 33 years depending on how you count it.
Bill: So what’s special about your worship space here, Jason?
Jason: Well you know it’s funny because my favorite aspects of this particular space are, well first as you sort of pointed out Bill the beam, the “I am the resurrection of life.” My other favorite is the great window. Ironically only the clergy and altar party and choir tend to get to see that. I also have to admit that I love the window over your left shoulder from the Spiegel family. Modie Joseph Spiegel, a Jewish family, who were approached about putting in–donating–a window at Holy Comforter when it was being built, and they agreed to just in case God was a Christian. I just love that story and that’s the Spiegel catalog company. But I just, I love that story.
Bill: Let’s stop there. I’ll just end by telling you, Jason, I’ve really valued our friendship and our collegiality. You’re very important to me and we have a pretty good working relationship between Holy Comforter and Kenilworth Union.
Jason: We’re just going to build on it more and more. And the same, same everything you said.
Bill: God bless you and your parish, and God bless you all.