An Apsidal Appendage
existing church building replaced the second (Gothic) structure in 1890.
The present chapel and parlor followed immediately and rest on the
site of the first church building. The
space between saw the first major alteration in 1937.
Careful workmanship and weathering hide the fact that the apse is
apse is a projection from the end of a building – usually a church
and usually from the “liturgical east” end.
We often think of an apse as being semicircular (as ours is) and
having a half-dome ceiling (as ours does).
Nothing in its definition requires this.
In fact, medieval English apses tended to be rectangular, while
their French counterparts were half round.
east? Tradition orients
churches so that worshippers face the rising sun.
When tradition is broken, the direction the congregation looks
becomes liturgical east. At
Shadyside, liturgy and compass coincide.
with the apse addition, another major change occurred in the worship
space. The space our Chancel
Choir now occupies held different music makers before 1937.
Organ pipes arrayed across the front, towering behind a central
pulpit. Our familiar deep
chancel was not there.
An apse is where bishops sit, when in attendance. Presbyterians don’t hold much truck with bishops, so at Shadyside the apse surrounds the communion table. The inside wall displays Rudolf Scheffler’s stunning mosaic of the Transfigured Christ, who performs our episcopal role. Communion and honoring the Savior would seem apt apse acts.