A stained glass sign that hangs outside Tracey Lind's office at Trinity Cathedral simply reads, "The Dean." The Very Rev. Lind, however, isn't your ordinary dean, and Trinity Cathedral isn't your average church. Rather, Lind acts more like a community liaison, and, since her arrival at Trinity in 2000, the church has been so much more than a place for services.
For example, in 2014, Trinity started hosting rock and pop concerts, all with Lind's blessing.
"We're working with [the local promoter] Elevation on a project called Cathedral Concerts and the idea is to find the intersection between sacred space and popular music," she says one afternoon from her spacious office that looks out on Prospect Avenue. "The world is changing and the fastest changing demographic among Americans is called 'nones,' people with no affiliation. The concerts for us are a way to introduce people to our sacred space and allow them to experience the holy on their own terms. Some people experience the divine in contemporary music and in traditional rock 'n' roll and jazz and bluegrass and Americana."
She says a band like the alt-rock group Airborne Toxic Event, which played at the church last year, represents the "psalmists of today" and that the songs they write are like the psalms attributed to David in the Bible.
The church even hosted Sandra Bernhard, a comedian and actress known for her lewd sense of humor.
"What we say is that this is not your grandmother's Episcopal church," says Lind. "But there are some wonderful grandparents at this congregation. We want to move from generation to generation. We knew Sandra can be edgy and irreverent and raunchy. We wanted her to honor the fact that she's in a house of prayer and she did. Every time she wanted to say a word that wouldn't be acceptable, she put her middle finger in the air and I just thought it was hysterical."
The church also hosts themed masses. On Sundays, it holds an "early bird special" at 8 a.m. That service doesn't involve much music. But at 9 a.m., a local cover band comes to the church to play the Mostly Jazz Mass, where you can hear gospel, rock and Americana. Periodically, the church will also present services featuring the music of acts such as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the Beatles. And for the past two years, the church has hosted a tribute to Rock Hall inductees.
Before coming to Cleveland, Lind, who holds a bachelor's degree in urban studies from the Honors College at the University of Toledo, a master's of community planning from the University of Cincinnati and a master's of divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York, served as associate rector of Christ Church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and then as rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in multi-cultural Paterson, New Jersey. That work prepped her well for the move to yet another urban environment.
"It was a big, old, stone church in the middle of a very, very poor city," she says of St. Paul's. "We developed a community development corporation. We ran a shelter. We ran programs for commercial sex workers and did a lot of work with immigrants from all over the world. We did citizenship classes and English as a Second Language classes. We had a food pantry that was like a small supermarket."
Her intention: to literally open the church up to everyone.
"The idea is that the people are on the inside of the church, but I like to say, 'Here's the church and here's the steeple, open the doors and see all the people on the outside,'" she says, motioning with her hands. "I always put glass doors on the front so you can open the big beautiful wood doors, so people can see in, and we can see out. Our focus is on facing outward."