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VOL. 129 | NO. 48 | Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Calvary Lenten Series Enters 91st Year

By Don Wade

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Times have changed. Not so much that Calvary Episcopal Church leaders have stopped believing in the value of the daily Lenten Preaching Series because 2014 marks the series’ 91st continuous year.

Volunteers work in the Waffle Shop, part of the annual Lenten Preaching Series held at Downtown’s Calvary Episcopal Church.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

But Downtown has changed over time and so has technology. Those two facts have the Rev. Christopher Girata, the church’s rector, looking at the series a little differently.

Girata has only been at Calvary about 18 months, but he was struck by the fact while more people are living Downtown “a lot of people work out east. Last year we live-streamed our preachers” and this year they will be live-streamed again and their sermons placed in archives.

The free series is well-known for the quality of its speakers, but Girata says because the speakers are featured from 12:05 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. Mondays through Fridays during Lent, it’s not convenient for those workers who aren’t Downtown to attend – even if there is also the added draw of the Waffle Shop lunch.

“As a millennial, I had to be honest and say I don’t know who we could get in the speaker series that could convince me to come Downtown in the middle of the day,” Girata said.

Calvary’s daily Lenten Preaching Series began on March 5 and will run through April 11. Girata says as far as they know, it is one of only three daily Lenten preaching series at Episcopal churches in the United States; the others are in Birmingham, Ala., and Richmond, Va.

Speakers include Episcopal leaders, such as the Rt. Rev. Don Edward Johnson, the Bishop of the Diocese of West Tennessee, who will speak on Friday, March 14; and the Rev. Becca Stevens, author and founder of the Community of Magdalene and Thistle Farms for women who have survived life on the street, on Wednesday, March 12, and Thursday, March 13.

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, will speak March 20-21, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. will speak March 31.

“We try to make it large scope, a broad offering so we’re not getting just any one side of perspective,” Girata said. “Calvary sees ourselves as a beacon for the gospel message in this city. We don’t exist for the sake of our members. We exist for the people who aren’t members of our church. We want them to join our mission.”

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