|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
|1616: Church of the Resurrection, Brewster, Massachusetts, USA
Church of the Resurrection, Brewster, Massachusetts, USA.
Missionary parish of the Anglican
Church of Kenya, Diocese
of Southern Nyanza.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.
A large attractive orange and white wooden building operated
by the Brewster Council on Aging, which provides space for the
church to meet. The worship space is a simple recreational room,
with a wooden cross with gold tape and a table on which were
some flowers and a pretty chalice, perhaps made of clay. An
electric piano sat on the left side of the room.
The parish began as a Bible study group among disaffected Episcopalians
from various communities throughout the Cape. Eventually they
decided to found their own parish and began the search for a
priest. They believe strongly in salvation through Christ alone,
and associate with other Christian groups engaged in spreading
the Word. At least one of the parishioners continues to attend
his original Episcopal parish as well as this church. I was
impressed that during the service the priest invited all in
attendance to come to a meeting to decide what the church should
do with its financial resources. "We're not here to build
an endowment, we're here to do God's work, and as a member of
the church you have a say in how we do that."
Brewster is located on Cape Cod, which is a favorite vacation
destination for Bostonians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders
in general. The Pilgrims first landed at Cape Cod (in what is
now Provincetown), and most of the towns on the Cape date back
to the 17th century. It has a long history in commercial fishing,
which attracted Portuguese immigrants to the Cape, but now is
best known for vacation homes, beaches, fudge, and Irish pubs.
After summer, the population of the Cape dwindles markedly.
The area around the church is a mix of very pretty homes with
well-kept yards, on the one hand, and small commercial enterprises
(retail stores, antiques, restaurants), on the other. The building
faces Route 6A, which is a pleasant road leading through residential
and commercial centers of town along the northern part of the
The Revd Michael R. Rennier, rector, presided and preached.
There was also a guest speaker, the Revd Priyanath Rufus, who
has been engaged in missionary work in the Himachal Pradesh
region of India since 1989. People told me later that the parish
has had a close relationship with the Revd Rufus even though
he is not Anglican.
The date & time:
September 7, 2008, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full, perhaps 25 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
At the entrance to the building was a folding table staffed
by a man handing out service pamphlets. He greeted me with a
friendly "Welcome, good morning" and gave me a name
tag so that people could call me by name (regular parishioners
were also wearing tags). He also pointed me to the stairway
leading up to the service.
Was your pew comfortable?
About 35 simple metal chairs with plastic seats had been set
up for the service. I was not uncomfortable, nor was I overwhelmed
by any luxuriousness.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
A lot of greeting as people arrived. A couple of people made a point of welcoming me. Relaxed atmosphere, not particularly worshipful.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the
No books of any sort. The entire service, including hymns, was
projected by a computer onto the wall behind the altar. The
priest at one point was reading from the 1979 Book of Common
What musical instruments were played?
An electric piano.
Did anything distract you?
A persistent fly was buzzing about me for the first half of
the service. Eventually he moved on to annoy someone else.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
I would describe the service as middle to low Anglican. It was
formal in that it followed the liturgy carefully and seriously
(Rite II, by the way), but there were no bells, candles or incense.
The hymns were a mix of traditional and modern. Some were very
familiar to me from my church, while others I had never heard
before. The exchange of peace was drawn out, with each person
determined to greet every person in the church. All Christians
were invited to take part in the communion, which was done with
those receiving communion coming up to the altar to do so (standing
as opposed to kneeling) by row at the direction of an usher.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
9 Father Rennier was actually trying to keep his sermon
under a minute so that the guest speaker, the Revd Rufus, could
tell about his missionary work in India. But after he concluded
his talk, one of the parishioners pointed out that he had spoken
for just over two minutes. He demonstrated how effective a simple
sermon can be, making his points quickly but powerfully.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The act of disciplining (or reminding) our fellow Christians when they go astray should be done out of love and not out of ego or feelings of superiority. We are all sinners, struggling to live as God wants us to, so we should treat each other as loved companions, not as children to be corrected.
Which part of the service was like being in
For a small congregation, the singing was very impressive. I felt carried aloft by some of the beautiful voices nearby.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The most hell-like moment to me occurred when speaking to parishioners
after the service. Not that they were rude or unfriendly, they
were anything but; it was my own realization that these warm,
welcoming people for reasons I couldn't quite fathom felt so
out of place in the Episcopal Church that they chose to align
themselves with an Anglican bishop in Kenya. They were quite
willing to talk to me about it. They said that it "wasn't
just the gay thing. We believe that salvation comes only through
Jesus Christ, and we feel the modern Episcopal Church has strayed
from that core belief." They certainly seemed committed
to the latter, but I still feel that there was more going on
there than they admitted to me to drive them to such a foreign
association. I just didn't know what else to ask them. Back
home, my own priest commented that he felt they must have a
very limited view of Christ to be so restrictive in their beliefs
on the way to salvation.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
At the end of the service, the majority of people gathered at
the back of the room where refreshments had been set out. A
couple of vestry members came over to me. They were very interested
in how I had found out about the church and were eager to answer
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Coffee, jalapeno cornbread and watermelon. Simple, but satisfying.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 Wonderful people, but I love the progress the Episcopal
Church has made, so I obviously wouldn't feel comfortable here
as a regular parishioner.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes and no. I am always encouraged by people who are so dedicated
to their faith and acting as Jesus calls us to do, but I remain
troubled by their efforts to leave the Episcopal Church.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The simple makeshift chapel space, reminding me that all the
trappings may aid in worship, but true believers carry on their
faith in whatever space is available.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.