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Christ Church Cathedral celebrates history, music

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Christ Church Cathedral will commemorate its 175th anniversary this year. The Episcopal church is one of the oldest buildings in Indiana; the current location was finished in 1857.

In the early 19th century, Christ Church was known as “The Little Church on the Circle,” which later became the title of the history of the congregation, written by church member and philanthropist Eli Lilly. It was established as a parish in 1837 being one of the four churches at the center of Monument Circle. It’s the only church still there.

“It’s an honor. How many people get to serve in a church with this long and rich history,” said Stephen Carlsen dean of Christ Church.

In addition to its unique history, the Episcopal cathedral will also honor its music during a concert entitled, Music for Royal Occasions on May 19 at 4:30 p.m. The choirs of Christ Church Cathedral and soloists and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra will perform.

According to Dana Marsh, director of music at Christ Church, the music is festive and enriching.

“It’s happy music! It’ll be presented in a way that everybody can appreciate. When people can connect with what the heart and soul of this music is they absolutely love it,” said Marsh.

Christ Church’s rich tradition of sacred music is a part of its mission. The choirs include the 130-year tradition of the Choir of Men and Boys and more than 40 years of Cathedral Girls Choir, which tour internationally and make acclaimed recordings.

“We value finding God in the beauty of our music,” said Carlsen.

The cathedral’s mission also includes urban diversity and service to the community. The congregation is committed to a diverse, welcoming vision of the Christian community.

Carlsen says people drive from more than 25 zip codes to be a part of a congregation where everyone is not like them. They even have a Spanish speaking service for Hispanics.

“It’s one of the things we value most about ourselves. We embrace everybody – the rich, poor, various races and sexual orientations,” he said.

Claudia Maddox has been a member for 12 years. She’s also on the Vestry board committee at the church. As an African-American, Maddox grew up in the Episcopal Church.

“It’s a very multicultural church. Christ is for all people, and church doors should be open for anybody who wants to come. I’ve always felt welcome. It’s home for me, and always will be,” said Maddox.

Christ Church treats not only its congregation like home, but also the city of Indianapolis. According to Carlsen, service to the community is an important part of its ministry. The cathedral has founded prominent social service agencies including the Damien Center, the Julian Center and Gleaners Food Bank.

“We have a tradition of being at the front edge of our city and helping out. We are looking for the next thing God is calling us to do,” Carlsen said. “What does our city need done that we can help do? That’s our mission!”

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