|74: Christ Episcopal Church, Seattle, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Owl.
The church: Christ Episcopal Church, Seattle, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: Fairly standard early 20th-century American parish church with brick bell tower and an education wing which seems to date from the fifties and sixties. Additionally, there is a small chapel which seems to have been built at the same time as the education wing. This service was held in the small chapel since the main sanctuary was occupied by a service which was already in progress.
The neighbourhood: The University District of Seattle, which is pretty interesting and unusual in itself. Just around the corner is the Wizards of the Coast Megastore, which is sandwiched between a juice shop and a tattoo parlor.
The cast: Rev Daniel Ferry was the celebrant.
What was the name of the service?
1928 Prayer Book Service.
How full was the building?
The small chapel was a little over half-full, which translated into about 20 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed personally by the celebrant and also by one of the elderly ladies helping him get organized. When it became clear that I wasn't an Episcopalian, they directed me to a pew and asked the lady there to help me out as necessary, which she did quite well.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was fairly comfortable, though it lacked upholstery. I've heard that in Anglican churches one must be uncomfortable at all times.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and fairly contemplative. There wasn't much talk between the people in the other pews.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome and good morning, and for some of us, any morning that we wake up is a good morning."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1928 Prayer Book.
What musical instruments were played?
No frills at all here: there wasn't any music.
Did anything distract you?
Nothing at all. Everyone was quiet and respectful. And there wasn't a single note to worry about missing.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The closest single word that could be used to describe the service is "subdued". The lack of singing was filled by simple prayers and the repetition of the creeds.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5: as a preacher, he was pleasant, and I enjoyed his almost conversational style. However, he did seem to ramble a bit, repeating a portion of the sermon three times.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
How depth of theological training is essentially irrelevant to understanding the message of Christ. To illustrate this, he juxtaposed a quote from a theologian with a retelling of the weekly reading from the Gospel of John, as written by a group of troubled young people.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
No part was particularly heavenly, though it was a very pleasant change of pace. It merely felt... good.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I can't find anything to complain about.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It's very hard to be inconspiciously lost in a service with that few people. The celebrant talked with me briefly almost immediately, and even cracked a light-hearted joke about the woman who helped me when neccessary, asking if she was a good teacher. A number of other people were also more than helpful when I asked for a picture or postcard of the church.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee at this service, unfortunately.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7. For some reason this church, from the few services I have attended, seems rather attractive. However, I cannot make an unqualified recommendation until I find out about their non-worship activities.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, though on a completely different level to any service I've been to lately. It was more of an intellectual feeling of well-being.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How at peace I felt at the end of the service.