Atonement of the world’s peoples: the symbolism of our altar

By Nathan Costa, Assistant Director of Music & Liturgist

The altar we are using for our outdoor services of Eucharist was constructed by Obie Burch, husband of church accountant Kathy Brooks and a scenic and lighting designer for local stage productions, including over 20 productions in the Cranbrook Greek Theatre. It is a replica of the commemorative “Altar of Atonement” on the Cranbrook campus near the corner of Cranbrook and Lone Pine Roads commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first “Sunday School service” held under a tent on the property and led by Henry Wood Booth May 16, 1904. The altar is round so as to face any direction and is inscribed from side to side with a cross; the original altar also has a hole in the middle for a processional cross, with the points of the compass inscribed around it. In his 1982 letter to new CCC rector Rev. Almus Thorp, Henry S. Booth, who was instrumental in the commemoration and the altar’s design, notes that the directions of the inscribed cross offer the opportunity to pray “for the at-one-ment of the world’s peoples as [we] face the points of the compass.” As we continue our outdoor celebrations under a tent with a similar altar, may we too remember to pray for the “at-one-ment” of all peoples of the earth during this time of pandemic.

Thanks to Laura MacNewman, Associate Archivist, at Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research and parishioner, for her assistance in this project.