A change in leadership at Trinity Church
Special to The Union
Father Christopher Seal has been a part of Trinity Church since 1994.
He decided to work at Trinity while on a visit to Nevada City with his wife in 1983.
“On the way out of town, we were driving up the street,” said Seal. “It was snowing and I had never been in this church, but I suddenly stuck my head out the window and I said, ‘Someday, I’m going to be Rector there.’”
On Sunday, Aug. 27, Father Christopher Seal held his final service as Rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Nevada City.
Concerning his retirement, Seal said, “What’s important to me is not my retirement. What’s important to me is the future of this place. Because this is my life’s work. If you’ve spent 23 years in a place, it’s your life’s work.”
Father Seal has a passion for architecture; he’s quite enthusiastic about the various churches he has served in and proud of the renovations made to Trinity during his time as Rector. He spoke in great detail about the blue archway, painted with golden stars, that stands above the altar at Trinity.
The stars were repainted during Seal’s time as Rector to match the night sky above Nevada County at 10 p.m., on April 21, 1854, when the first service was held on the site that would one day become the modern Trinity Church.
Seal is very humble about his place in the church community. He declined having any special service on his final Sunday.
“I wanted to do things the way I’ve always done it because that’s what I love. I love the ordinary daily round of life in a church,” said Seal.
On Sunday Aug. 13, it was announced that Father Brad Helmuth had been appointed to succeed him, and the congregation welcomed him with an enthusiastic round of applause.
Speaking of Father Helmuth and his upcoming role, Seal said, “The good thing about having him be here is that he’s a Nevada County boy. He’s extremely intelligent, very well-versed in the Bible, he has amazing powers of analysis and understanding of human beings.”
Father Helmuth is proud of his Nevada City origins.
“My parents moved here in 1978 … My heart is really with Nevada City,” said Helmuth.
Outside of his position at Trinity, Helmuth works at the Hospice of the Foothills and with students in need of guidance.
“I see the patients for that type of care as a part of the team … It’s allowed me to do what I love to do outside of these walls,” he said.
Helmuth is confident, optimistic and hopeful about the new position.
“I’ve been an associate here for a little bit of time, and respect Christopher immensely,” Helmuth said. “I support him and have supported him in any way that I can. But now it’s going to be my time to sort of step up and take a leadership role.”
Reflecting on what he’s learned from his predecessor, Helmuth said, “The most important thing that I’ve learned from him is trust of others. I’m not saying this because I’m not a trusting person, but I’ve worked with and under lots of different pastors, and he is the only one in 30 years that ever fully trusted me to do whatever it is that I was being called to do.”
When asked about working in Nevada County, both Seal and Helmuth had a lot to say on the area’s religious diversity. “Culturally, it’s very diverse … We have an enormous variety of human beings here,” said Seal.
Asked about his experience in Nevada City, Helmuth said, “I think the thing that I like most about Nevada City, and the thing that makes it most rewarding, is it’s its own place … There’s a breath of spirituality in town that makes it very interesting and engaging. There’s a lot of people that come to town as well. It’s a destination spot for lots of people. All this creates this interesting environment.”
Asked about the change, Melinda Douros, one of Trinity’s parishioners said, “Christopher has been a steady hand, a wise head and a warm heart for the Trinity congregation for 23 years and he will be deeply missed … The wonderful thing is that Brad brings similar gifts and qualities, and we all look forward to a smooth transition.”
Trinity Church has been a part of Nevada City since the beginning; much of the original community sprung up around it. When asked about the church’s place in the community, Helmuth said, “At the bottom of the hill of Nevada Street as you come across this place, the sign says ‘The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.’ I remember that the first time I saw it. And they really do mean it.”
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