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Consecration of 11th Episcopal Bishop will be Uniquely WNY | Arts & Culture

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Consecration of 11th Episcopal Bishop will be Uniquely WNY
Consecration of 11th Episcopal Bishop will be Uniquely WNY

Local Artisan's Work to Adorn Altarpiece

From the moment the Rev. Dr. R. William Franklin becomes Bishop of Western New York on April 30, 2011, Western New York will be always be near at hand and close to his heart.

The first thing those attending the consecration service being held at 11 a.m. at the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts are likely to notice will be the 8 foot wide custom altar frontal.

The frontal was designed by the Reinvestment Group from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Westfield, NY, using fabrics donated by churches around our seven county diocese. This group of women specialize in salvaging usable materials from vestments and altar linens that have been lovingly retired.

“The frontal’s design represents the terrain of Western New York, as well as it’s distinct seasons,” explains Joyce Brasted, the group’s leader.

From Lakes Erie and Ontario on the diocese’s western and northern borders to the Allegheny Region’s forests and mountains in the southeast, the varied and vibrant hues of Western New York will provide dramatic backdrop for the important event of the day. That these colors are one in the same with those used throughout the church year will not be lost on those familiar with the church’s liturgical seasons.

The finished version includes an embroidered version of the diocesan seal stitched by Catherine Way, a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Jamestown, NY, who served as chair of the Bishop Search Committee.

The frontal is just one of three elements of the consecration service made in Western New York. The second is the crozier, or pastoral staff. Carried by bishops, and therefore always close at hand, croziers symbolize the bishop’s role of leading, supervising and uniting the Church.

The crozier Bishop Franklin will receive was designed by Art Werner, a Kenmore native and long time member of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kenmore. Werner, for whom woodworking is an avocation, has had sawdust on his shoes for 45 years. In fact, this will be the second crozier he has made—the first being the one he made of oak twelve years ago for Western New York’s retiring bishop, the Right Rev. J. Michael Garrison.

Bishop-elect Franklin showed Werner a photo of a 13th century crozier, the head of which is made entirely from rock crystal. (http://art.thewalters.org/viewwoa.aspx?id=16988) Werner envisioned a similar design worked in wood.

After more consultation between the two men, it was determined that a blossom of the dogwood tree, recognized by many here as a harbinger of spring, would be set into the curl of the crozier. The crockets, or waves, on the outer edge of the original crozier easily translated to symbols of the waters of Lakes Erie and Ontario in Werner's design.

Werner says that obtaining high quality cherry veneer from which the curled head of the crozier would be formed was crucial. That’s where Greg Engle, a parishioner at St. Matthias Episcopal Church in East Aurora, NY, stepped in.

Engle and his company, Certainly Wood of East Aurora, donated sheets of cherry veneer 14.5 inches in width and totalling 12 feet in length.

“Perfectly straight grained cherry, absolutely exquisite wood,” Werner says almost reverently.

To produce the crook’s distinctively curled head, Werner was assisted by Thomas Heyer, a resident of North Tonawanda and a member of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo. Using a jig custom made by Werner and as many as seven clamps at a time, the two men bent and glued 42 individual strips of cherry veneer each measuring just 1/36” thick into the desired curve. The job took nearly 7 hours.

Once the glue dried, the section was then sanded into a smooth rounded shape.

A long block of solid cherry was turned down on a lathe to create the straight portion of the crozier.

Werner and Heyer then each carved a matched set of dogwood blossom and leaves. Werner’s set is affixed to one side of top curl, and Heyer’s to the other, resulting in a three dimensional masterpiece with neither a front nor a back side.

After his consecration, Bishop Franklin will carry this crozier for all formal visitations and other liturgical events. Fitting a full length crozier into his red Prius, however, would have posed a problem, so the crozier was been created in sections designed to screw together seamlessly.

The new bishop will also be given a pectoral cross that will lie against his chest, close to his heart. It was designed by Reg Schopp of deSignet International in Grand Island, NY. The cross and chain will be given to Bishop Franklin by the clergy of the diocese, who contributed cash as well as old silver and gold jewelry towards the gift.

Bishop-elect Franklin preferred a simple Jerusalem-style gold cross and requested that the words scripture, creed, sacrament and episcopate be inscribed on it. These four words, drawn from the historic Chicago Lambeth Quadrilateral, describe the basic tenets of the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal faith tradition.

Reusing the donated gold for this project was an easy task. Schopp, however, felt the donated silver also needed to be incorporated into the cross. Several suggestions for how to do so were made and rejected. Finally Schopp hit upon a concept that satisfied both the bishop-elect and himself.

A matrix of gold layers with a cross shaped hollow at the center were cast.

The donated silver—crosses, rings, pins, and coins—were melted together and cast into silver ingots.

With the layers polished and assembled, cross appears to be solid gold. But within, where once there was a hollow, lies a silver cross wrought from one of those silver ingots.

Bishop-elect Franklin is a native of Mississippi. He was educated at Harvard and served as both a seminary professor and dean. As a priest, he has served the Episcopal Church in Boston, Europe and Philadelphia. He brings a broad view of the church and the world to Western New York,

And soon, close to his heart he’ll wear a cross that symbolizes the breadth of God’s Kingdom and the embrace of the Diocese of Western New York.

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