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This page last updated 15 April 2007  

There came from the sky a strong driving wind

Report provided by Marla Archer-Brinkmoeller
Holy Trinity Church, Manistee, Michigan USA
One snowy Christmas

On Pentecost 1998, Holy Trinity Church in the growing little city of Manistee, in Michigan USA on the shore of Lake Superior, hosted the Confirmation services for the Traverse Deanery. There are four Deaneries in the Diocese of Western Michigan. The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Lee, Diocesan Bishop, came to confirm the newest Episcopalians at this well-maintained historic church crafted in 1888, during the heyday of the lumbering era. The city of Manistee has about 7000 people, mostly of central European ancestry, and is about one third of the population of Manistee County.

At 4:20 a.m. on Pentecost, quite literally, "... suddenly there came from the sky a (noise like that of a) strong driving wind, which filled the whole house where they were sitting." Acts 2:2. This particular strong driving wind downed nearby trees and broke the electric wires. The Rector of Holy Trinity, the Rev. Leonard J. Brinkmoeller, knew that he had no choice but to host the Confirmation services in the dark.

The church was lit by a mixture of altar candles and whatever daylight filtered through the stained-glass windows. The parish's original pipe organ was destroyed in a fire in 1929, and was replaced with a Page organ with electric blowers. And of course it now had no electric power. But Susan Lund-Coyle, soprano soloist for the morning's service, quickly rigged a converter to her car's cigarette lighter and was able to power an electronic keyboard. The organist, Ms. Michelle L. B. Grimm, had been practicing for weeks on the pipe organ in preparation for the Bishop's visit, but made the last-minute switch to the substitute instrument smoothly, and opened with a Buxtehude prelude. The acolytes, choir, canidates and presenters, assisting Clergy, Deacon and Bishop processed to the front of the church singing Hymn 182, "Christ is Alive," and the service proceeded from there magnificently.

Some years ago an elevator had been added to this old building, and many people have come to depend on it to get from the ground floor to the sanctuary. Some parish members have chosen this as their church because of the elevator; it enables them to get to the sanctuary without a lot of help. Without power, the elevator did not work, and just getting to the service became a slow and painful struggle for some people. One person who was presenting a confirmand had a broken ankle, but she struggled resolutely up the old staircase instead of turning back.

"...How is it then that we hear them, each of us in his own native language?" Acts 2:8. The words from the Gospel for the day took on a new and very unusual meaning. Holy Trinity Church had arranged for a sign language interpreter to sign the service for the deaf.. The natural lighting was not just low, but was behind the heads of the speakers, which made lip/speech reading impossible. The unusual presence of an sign-language interpreter made the service accessible to people who normally depend on lip/speech reading.

Over the course of the past year the parish hall had been completely redecorated with several exquisite antiques. New tables and chairs had been purchased and the room had been revitalized. The parish had proudly invited Bishop Lee and the entire Deanery to a reception in the refurbished parish hall. In the darkness, no one could see the fruits of the refurbishing, and the reception itself was miraculous. Under the direction of Pat Williams and Martha Paine, helped by dozens of nameless volunteers, the ECW (Episcopal Church Women) rescued the reception. Volunteers scoured the church for every available candle and candle holder and placed them on the tables. Battery-operated lanterns and flashlights were found here and there, most of them hand-held by volunteers to illuminate the otherwise-dark stairway. Voila!, a candlelight reception!

Indeed, the Holy Sprit swept through Western Michigan with a strong driving wind, and for that particular Pentecost, the gifts of the spirit were perseverence, ingenuity and great good humor.

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