Cathedral Adds Unexpected Pages to its Spiritual Story

06.23.17 | News, Recent Events | by Nancy Morton

Cathedral Adds Unexpected Pages to its Spiritual Story

    Sunday, May 28, 2017, will be remembered for remarkable signs and wonders at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Des Moines, Iowa, the Episcopal Church Downtown at 9th and High St. The people of God (aka the entire congregation) physically moved from praying in the pews to participating in the narrative of the new things God is showing us.

    Act 1, page 1: 8 O’clock

    Fr. Troy Beecham, Dean of the Cathedral, told us of a recent diagnosis of early onset Parkinson’s disease. In lieu of preaching, he sat in a chair near the front pews and invited the congregation to come, lay hands on him, and pray for healing. Everyone came forward. Those who could, touched him. Everybody else put a hand on the person ahead of them forming prayer links reaching out in all directions. Some prayed aloud. Most prayed silently. Fr. Troy was anointed with holy oil for healing in body, mind and spirit. After a few moments of silence, the Eucharist continued.

    Act 1, page 2

    The disruption started midway through distribution of communion. A neatly-dressed young woman with a backpack entered the church and proceeded up the center aisle. With each step she cursed our building calling the people in it evil, devil worshipers. She prophesied our destruction and damnation.

    Declaring God’s love and ours, Fr. Troy stepped out calmly. His repeated words, “We love you,” picked up by the congregation waiting at the altar rail, echoed behind him. The usher who had greeted her arrival stood quietly beside the woman and walked with her when she turned and left the sanctuary.

     Fr. Troy rebuked the curse on the building and its people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He called a blessing upon all including our strange visitor. Communion resumed.

    Act 2: 10 O’clock  

    The Dean repeated his request for healing prayer. Again the congregation, joined by the choir, gathered around him, praying silently or aloud in English or their native language. Communion proceeded without interruption.

    (Personal reflection). At the coffee hour between services the eight o’clockers were primed to tell and share their experiences to friends arriving for the next service. My information about the second service came later in the week when I started asking, “What do you make of what happened Sunday?” Most mentioned awe and astonishment. Many felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Some expressed anxiety about a stranger with a backpack.

    Act 3: The Next Page – Telling Our Stories

    (Personal Reflection) Getting ready to write this article, I asked several members about the events on May 28. Most responded quickly from the heart. Sometimes, however, I heard, “I wasn’t there, tell me what happened!” It seems to me the Next Pages will highlight conversations, repeating stories about this astonishing experience that nourish us and bind us as a community of faith. 

    An Invitation to Conversation July 9, at noon at St. Paul’s Cathedral 

    Informal table talk in small groups over lunch with those present on May 28 and those who were not.

    Fr. Troy Beecham will update his healing in progress. 

    Format: Just enough structure so story tellers and listeners can participate comfortably and safely. No formal presentations No scribe/reporter needed. 

    Related Activities

    Wednesday night Bible study and pot luck at 6 pm

    Current subject: Book of Acts


    Healing Service on 2nd Monday at 6:30 pm in chapel