February 18: Part Five of Six

We’re pleased to present this six-part virtual tour of the exquisite art and architecture of Park Avenue Christian Church. From the Tiffany stained glass windows, to the 70-foot fleche inspired by Sainte Chappelle in Paris, the “A Walk in The Park” series highlights the precious structure that is The Park, and underscores our mission to preserve and protect this invaluable building while sharing it with our neighbors and the world. 



Part Five: Symbols of the Christian Church

The Baptistry

The original sanctuary did not have a baptistry for the practice of baptism by immersion.  When the congregation of the Central Church of Disciples of Christ moved here in 1945, a baptistry given by the B. D. Phillips family was built in the parish house.  When that building was razed in 1963 for the construction of the Hampton Adams Building, the congregation was left without its own baptistry.


In 1979 the B. D. Phillips Trust provided for the construction of a baptistry in the sanctuary, offering space for wood-carved symbols like those in the chancel and an opportunity to include symbols particular to the history and theology of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  The six symbols read from right to left in a historical-Scriptural sequence beginning with the earliest: a deer at the four rivers of life; the flowering staff of the Good Shepherd planted in the water of life; symbols of servanthood (a towel, sandals, and a hyssop branch); the loaves and fishes; the chalice and the “five-finger exercise” of the Disciples of Christ; and the ecumenical symbol of the ship. The symbols were researched and designed by Jensene Godwin Payne in 1981, and the carvings were executed by Navedo Woodcraft of Manhattan, whose work is also installed at the Morgan Library and at the Metropolitan Museum.

The Chancel

Central to the chancel as well as to the liturgy is the communion table with the inscription “This Do in Remembrance of Me.”  The table, crafted around 1910, moved with the Disciples congregation from its former home on West 81st Street.  A carved and gilded Celtic cross in the reredos rises behind the table. Flanking the entrance to the chancel are carved wood figures of the Church holding a miniature church building on the left and the Synagogue holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments on the right.

The small carved panels of the chancel railings feature, on the pulpit side, the grapes of the Communion, the pomegranate (symbolizing resurrection), the chalice, the palm branches of the Entry into Jerusalem, and the baptismal font; on the lectern side, the symbols relate to the Scriptures – the armor and sword, the rose, the lamp, the daisy, and a scroll.

When the present organ was added in 1982, the decorative lower panels were installed in the niches in the South aisle, offering a close view of their thick, gem-like facets. There is a fragment of a Tiffany window depicting two musical angels in the North aisle near the Baptistry.

The original woodwork was executed by Irving and Casson, Boston furniture makers who would go on to design the original interiors of the United Nations in the 1950s.

Part Four: Gem-Like Facets
Please forward this email and invite friends to join us for A Walk in The Park.  Anyone can sign up to receive the series by clicking here and selecting “Reflections.”

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1010 Park Avenue at 85th Street, New York, NY 10028Church office:  212-288-3246.
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