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What Have You Learned? David Jette


David Jette receives congratulations and thanks from Gabriel Bonadie, one of the congregation members who was already at Trinity when Jette arrived in 1985, on the day of his retirement.

David Jette has served as head verger for Trinity Wall Street since 1985. He retired on May 31, 2015.

A verger is almost always behind the scenes. If the verger has done his or her job adequately and thoroughly, those attending worship are rarely aware of his or her presence, and that’s exactly how it should be.

I will never forget my first Christmas at Trinity. One of my tasks was to get the rector at the time, Dr. Parks, to the pulpit for the sermon. I was so taken with the Gospel story that I almost forgot. I remember him saying “Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go.” It was a lesson. Vergers have to learn to worship differently.

One of my favorite memories of Trinity is the 300th anniversary of the parish, which was celebrated between 1996 and 1997. I was part of the steering committee. It was a wonderful time—an entire year of celebration including staff, clergy, and many of Trinity’s partner organizations, which culminated in an event on Ellis Island. Over one thousand organizations sent representatives. I was very honored. It was Trinity at its best.

Trinity is a place of refuge. I will never forget being at Trinity on September 11, 2001. The response of our parish to the needs of our neighborhood in the aftermath of so much loss and pain will be told for generations to come. The generosity of the people of the Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton made it possible for worship to continue for seven Sundays before the rededication and opening of Trinity Church on All Saints’ Sunday.

The point of worship is to honestly express our desire to worship God in the best possible way with all of our senses. We also have to be careful that it doesn’t become an idol. The point of liturgy is not liturgy. The point of liturgy is God.

One of the strengths of the Episcopal Church is everything we do is anchored in the tools of the Book of Common Prayer and the hymnal. We don’t edit those things. We interpret. They are bequeathed to us. What we do is a reflection and variety on what has been done in previous generations.

I became an Episcopalian in my early 20s. What drew me to the Episcopal Church is what still keeps me here: the respect and reverence for tradition in a contemporary living context.

The Creed is a springboard for conversation. The Episcopal Church is a place for thought where we can ask questions. Our faith is strong enough to handle a variety of ways of understanding the same thing. Tradition is a living organism that needs to be thought through, prayed about, and discussed.

I have half the combination to the safe where we have irreplaceable objects dating back to 1693, including complete communion sets from William and Mary, Queen Anne, and George III. The archivist has the other half. We open the safe together on special occasions. These things were given to us to be used, not to be kept in a safe.

Next I plan to take the time to enjoy the benefits of New York City that I have not been able to before. I don’t want to simply sit back and read the New York Times every morning. I also want to take French lessons and continue to garden.

I have enjoyed working with dedicated congregants and staff members. When I first came to Trinity I was impressed with the talented and dedicated staff. I was quickly able to see that Trinity was committed to lay ministry. That hasn’t changed.

Trinity is beginning another chapter, not a different book.

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