Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Steeple to Steeple

Pews, 2012

In Portsmouth, Virginia, they have an occasional walking tour called "Steeple to Steeple." Portsmouth's an old Southern port city with a number of historic churches in its downtown area. So they’re part of the local tourism scene.
The tour works like this: a guide in Colonial costume—in this past Saturday’s case a local guy who portrays Colonel Crawford, one of Portsmouth’s founding fathers—regales visitors with local history as he leads them around Old Town from church to church, where members—some also in period garb—share some of the history of each church.
Being good church folk, the presenters don't miss a chance to save a few souls. My friend Sue, for example, stood duty at First Presbyterian in the persona of a Scottish woman named Prudence McTavish, though to be honest Sue's accent sounded a bit more like Mrs. Doubtfire than that of our authentic Highlander friend, Sami. Though, to be further honest, Sami's from the Hebrides, not the Highlands. But her Scottish accent is spot on. Or at least I think it is, because I only understand about half of what she says.
I didn't visit all the churches. But I know for sure that over at First Presbyterian Sue was working the crowd hard. When she wasn’t being asked why Presbyterians don’t kneel when they pray, or whether the original Prudence McTavish is buried in the church crypt, she was trying to win souls by telling visitors they’d surely be good Presbyterians because "you are so good looking." Sue’s a crack advertising copywriter and knows that appealing to people’s vanity always works.

Sue Works the Room, 2012


  1. I really wanted to go on this, but had to work. I love religious architecture, but don't necessarily want to go to church.

  2. Love the shot of the curved pews up top here! You got me thinking about my Scottish grandmother. She wound up living in America longer than she ever did in Scotland, but she never lost her Scottish accent, and she was a delight. Most people couldn't understand her, and I was forever translating, but to this day, whenever I hear a Scottish accent, (or bagpipes, for that matter,) it brings tears to my eyes.