A Portal for God's Peace

Episcopal Church of Our Saviour - Secaucus, NJ - Crest

We warmly welcome single persons, people of all races and families of every kind.


Sunday Service:
Holy Eucharist at 9:30 am

Child care is available


Church of Our Saviour
191 Flanagan Way (Rt 153) Secaucus, NJ 07094


Tel: 201-863-1449
Fax: 201-863-1474

Mark A. Lewis, Vicar

Dorothy Fowlkes
Pastoral Associate


This page revised 23 Jan 07




The Church of
Our Saviour
in the Town of Secaucus, New Jersey

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Why are many
church doors
painted red?

Anyone have an answer
or suggestion to a source of information?

In the summer of 2000 Diocesan Secretary Michael Francaviglia circulated the following question raised by the folks at Christ Church Ridgewood. Since the Church of Our Saviour doors are painted red, you might be interested in the chatter:


Grace Church, Newark, NJ
Executive Committee of the Episcopal Church


My friend, the late Mark Graham, speculated on Anglican, a popular discussion list:

Message-Id: <v02110106ab8bd41fda16@[]>
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 18:32:33 -0500
To: anglican@AMERICAN.EDU
From: megraham@ATLANTA.COM (Mark Emory Graham)

Subject: Red Church Doors

I am forwarding the following question from a fellow verger and friend in Memphis.

Now for my question, does anyone know why the front doors of a church are painted red. This was asked me yesterday morning at church, and has been a topic of discussion for about a week or so in the church office.

I called my architect friend here in Memphis, and his answer was that it was nothing more than a tradition, especially with Episcopal churches. He added that if you go to a strange city, you can readily identify the Episcopal Church as the one with the red doors.

Although familiar with this "tradition", I have no idea how or when it started. Anybody know?


Mark Emory Graham +
(megraham@atlanta.com) + Ubi caritas et amor
Head Verger, All Saints Church + Deus ibi est
Atlanta GA +



St. David's Episcopal Church in Laurinburg, NC on its website asserts: "Red Front Doors. The red doors symbolize the blood of Christ, which is our entry into salvation. They also remind us of the blood of the martyrs, the seeds of the church."


Churches in other denominations sometimes use red doors too. Immanuel Lutheran Church explains its red doors at its website:

"Red doors. These doors are symbolic of entering the Church and getting to our Heavenly Father through the blood of Christ"


I suspect that the red doors are much like academic gowns: since there is no authoritative source about what they symbolize, you can have fun finding your own meanings in them.


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., #12D, East Orange, NJ 07018-1225
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew 973-395-1068



Challwood Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Former vicar of the Church of Our Saviour, Secaucus


Note #1377 from ChallwoodS@cs.com to NEWARK:

Red is the color of the Passion. Red doors say that symbolically we enter the church the Passion, through death and resurrection in baptism (at an Orthodox baptism, the godparents present the candidate with red shoes as a symbol of walking the way of the cross) and by participating in the passion through the Eucharist.

Red doors tend to be a continental reformed tradition. In England C of E doors, if painted, are blue possibly to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom England was anciently dedicated or to honor Alban, protomartyr of England whose shield is blue with a gold X cross.

For Episcopal Churches blue rather than red would be a more traditional color.

Paul Woodrum



Department of Mathematics
Kean University, Union NJ
Office 1-908-527-2482
Lab 1-908-527-3172

Note #1378 from cy@samson.kean.edu to NEWARK:


I too asked about the Red doors over the years. The only answer I ever got was that this is the color associated with the Holy Spirit. Since it is the color of blood and there has always been an association of blood and spirit, I guess this makes some sense (but not a lot).


If the flesh came into being because
of the spirit, then, that is a marvel.
But, if spirit came into being
because of the body, then that is a
marvel of marvels
-Gospel of Thomas



St. Luke's, Catskill, NY


Note #1379 from DD779DHFOX@cs.com to NEWARK:

I heard several years ago that the reason for the red doors on Episcopal churches was to indicate that the mortgage for the church was paid off.

Our church, St. Luke's in Catskill, New York had brown doors in the early fifties and when I changed to Christ Church in Schenectady, New York at the end of 1954 we had bright red doors.

Bob Miller





Note #1380 from rmcgee@amelar.com to NEWARK:

My earliest Christian mentor (Yes, that goes back a while.) explained that the red door tradition originated during the Middle Ages in England when it was a sign of sanctuary. In those days, if one who was being pursued by the local populace, shire reeve (sheriff) or gentry could reach the church door he/she would be safe. Nobody would dare to do violence on hallowed ground and, in any case, the Church was not subject to civil law. The red door was fair warning to pursuers that they could proceed no further. One who claimed sanctuary in this way would then be able to present his/her case before the priest and ask that justice be served.




Assisting, Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral


Note #1381 from lindastroh@yahoo.com to NEWARK:

Anybody read about Passover lately? You remember how the children of Israel were to mark "the lintel of the door" with blood, as a sign for the Angel of Death to pass over?

Before modern chemistry and the variety of paint formulae, red paint was made with animal blood (really -- I'm not making this up!). "Barn red," that color so familiar, especially in New England barns, was made with a combination of buttermilk and animal blood -- the blood for pigment/color, and the buttermilk as the binder/thickener. (You remember, of course, from art history, about renaisssance painters making their paints using egg yolk as a binder...). Anyhow, that's how they made red paint: blood and buttermilk. It's a pretty short step from there to red doors, if you are deeply steeped in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, and know about marking the lintel of the door with blood to signify that you are among the saved....

Linda Strohmier


St. Paul's Church, Englewood, NJ

note #1382 from CircaK@aol.com to NEWARK:

Dear Companions,

There has been much discussion here concerning "red doors" on Episcopal churches. At first I felt sure I knew the answer to the question posed "Why do Episcopal Churches commonly have red doors?" However, after reading the other posts I find that I am just plain enjoying myself. Obviously, there is no one definitive answer to this query.

The story as it was delivered to me is that church doors were painted red -- as a sign of sanctuary, -- as a reminder of the Passover, -- as a sign of the Holy Spirit, -- as a reminder of the Martyrs etc... all of the things mentioned. And yes this history is long and goes back indeed to the Middle Ages (or perhaps even to the time of the Torah in the Hebrew Scriptures). However, with all of this rich imagery abounding it still was the case in Great Britain and Canada in the 19th and early 20th century that only certain parishes painted their doors red. These were Anglo-Catholic parishes of the Oxford Movement (at least this was how it was reported to me by Urban Anglo-Catholic slum priests in Detroit and Toronto). In addition, a cross might appear on the parish steeple on these parishes. These were bold and controversial symbols at one time. Candles on the altar, liturgical vestments, Processional Crosses, Red Doors, Steeple Crosses, Weekly Eucharist, (not mention incense, bells, and lights that twinkle -- ie votive candles) these were all considered radical. We take most of this in stride today.

Evangelical parishes at that time had there own external markings. Instead of a Cross atop a steeple and red doors (this was called -- POPISH!!!) -- Evangelical parishes had a "Crowing Cock" (a common symbol of the Passion of our Lord) atop the steeple and brown or gray coloured doors. These parishes thought of themselves as a place where one could find "The Word" preached with authority without all the fuss and popery of those "other" Anglican Christians.

The American Church experience has always been more eclectic. A few decades ago "High Church" or "Anglo-Catholic" parishes probably had red doors more commonly than "Liberal Protestant Parishes" (these were far more common in the American experience than the Evangelical parishes of Britain and Canada). Today however this connection is lost. Presently, virtually every Episcopal Church parish has a cross on it and every parish uses candles. Today even Methodist and Baptist Churches in the United States have crosses on them and use candles. These signs and symbols are almost universally accepted.

Let me close by saying what a pleasure it is to embrace these lovely signs and symbols of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Yours in faith,
Kenneth M. Near, Rector
St. Paul's Church, Englewood, NJ



St. John the Divine, Hasbrouck Heights

Note #1384 from StJohnsHHNJ@aol.com to NEWARK:

Somewhere in the recesses of my understanding, all red doors initially indicated "sanctuary". Out of ancient history, various places and cities were marked as safe havens, sanctuaries. People fleeing trouble and danger could find respite for a time, until they needed to get on with life. These places were marked with bright red color -- the door, the opening through which one passed, etc.

The Church might well have adopted this lore, as sanctuary amidst the world .. Seems plausible to me...


Here is a similar account on a web page of St Mark's Church in Jackson, MS.

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