Trinity Church rises majestically in the center of Copley Square, an architectural and spiritual landmark just beyond he finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Its priest, the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, was sitting in his study reading when he heard the first blast, which he assumed was some kind of transformer accident. When the second followed a few seconds later, he knew it was something far worse.
“I quickly turned on the TV and saw that it was at the finish line,” Lloyd said. “But I had no idea of the kind of shutting down that was taking place.”
The sanctuary, a tourist destination and and home to a huge congregation, has been closed since the attack, one of dozens of institutions and businesses in the perimeter left in a state of suspended animation.
On Tuesday, it was, finally, preparing to reopen, shaken but recovering.
Lloyd is in his second tour at Trinity. He served there from 1993 to 2005, and returned in 2011 following a stint at the Washington National Cathedral.
He reflected yesterday on the effect that the attack and the resulting shutdown of a huge part of the Back Bay has had on his church.
“For us, it’s been devastating, making it impossible to come together as a community in a time of trauma,” he said.
Given the difficulty of rallying the community in person, Lloyd said he has been sending mass e-mails to parishioners, a 21st century form of spiritual counseling.
Beyond that, it’s been unsettling to witness his neighborhood’s eerie standstill.
“Copley Square is in many ways a core place, maybe the heart of the city symbolically,” he said. “It’s right in the heart of everything that matters to us as a city. To have that shut down with barricades around us was a disturbing thing to see.”
Last Thursday, once it became clear that the church would be unable to reopen in time for Sunday services, Lloyd arranged to hold services at Temple Israel in the Longwood Medical Area.
He wasn’t sure that parishioners would embrace the idea. He did not need to worry; more than 800 of them showed up for a memorable day.
“They were really there in the clutch for us and could not have been more gracious,” Lloyd said of his counterparts at Temple Israel. “They did everything they could think of to help us feel welcome. They made it an event that will be part of the living memory of Trinity Church for a long time to come.”
Lloyd said the attack and its aftermath have displayed a spirit of unity and compassion that is often taken for granted. “It knocked the breath out of us some, [but] at the same time showed us the strength that’s always been there,” he said. “It’s strengthened our ties and made us even more of a community.”
The parish will being to return to normal this weekend with a concert Sunday and four services Sunday.
Performing will be the Trinity Choir and the Boston City Singers. Jane Richard, the injured younger sister of bombing victim Martin Richard, is a member or the latter group.
A collection will be divided between the One Boston Fund and the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester, which has been supporting victims of violence for years.
That gesture is intended as a reminder that violence is a constant challenge for the city, not just a one-time tragedy. Lloyd noted that two local homicides last week went virtually unnoticed, understandably lost in the consuming anxiety over the terrorist attack.
What is crucial for Boston now, he said, is remaining united.
“For all those agonizing deaths and so many wounded there [at the Marathon], we remain in trauma because of the violence we see every day,” Lloyd said. “What we have tapped into, if we can keep that alive, I would love that.”
Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this column misstated the day a benefit concert at Trinity Church in Boston will be held. The concert is scheduled for Sunday. In addition, the name and title of the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, the priest-in-charge at Trinity, was incorrect.