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Presbyterian, Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA
Presbyterian, Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA.
A campus nicely planted with trees and shrubs, on which sit
about a half dozen unassuming buildings, the oldest of which
was finished in 1957 and the newest in 1994. The interior of
the sanctuary building is very pleasant, calm, not ornate, with
a center stage surrounded by seating. There are two lecterns
on the stage, each located toward the sides, with the communion
table in the middle. On the wall are a wooden cross with stained
glass panels on each side.
There appear to be a lot of activities happening at the church
and their website certainly indicates this. Of special note
are: "lab school," a program of developmental daytime
play sessions for parents and children, with night theory sessions
for the parents; the Space Coast Seafarers Ministry, which seeks
to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the international
crew members that visit Port Canaveral; and the Appalachian
Gospel, a re-creation of a typical 1950s "old time religion"
service in the southeastern USA cultural region known as Appalachia.
Cocoa Beach, on Florida's east coast, is a favorite vacation
destination for the sun and surf crowd. The Kennedy Space Center
is not far away, and nearby Port Canaveral is home port for
cruise lines such as Disney, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The
church is located on the main street alongside shopping malls,
hotels, condos, and extended stay apartments for winter snowbirds.
Also less than a mile away is the "world famous" Ron Jons Surf
Shop, which claims to be one of the most oft-visited attractions
The Revd Daniel Robinson, D.Min., pastor, led the service. The
sermon was given by the Revd Claudio Reinaldet, coordinator
of the Amazon Christian Holistic Development project in Manaus,
Brazil. The Revd Senhor Reinaldet spoke in Portuguese, which
was translated into English by Marta Carriker.
The date & time:
February 1, 2009, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I walked up the path to the sanctuary, someone wished me
a good morning. At the door, an usher welcomed me as he handed
me the order of worship. Once seated, the couple sitting next
to me also said good morning. As the service began, the pastor
asked those attending for the first time to raise their hands,
and we were all given a church coffee mug and a map of the various
buildings that comprise the campus.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was very comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
I arrived about 10 minutes before service began, and the church's
organist/choir director was playing a beautiful piece on the
piano. He soon switched over to the organ. I felt comfortable
in the cool, calm interior. The choir and worship leaders walked
in and were seated for about five minutes before worship began.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning and welcome to worship."
What books did the congregation use during the
The Presbyterian Hymnal and a song book whose title
I didn't notice. Pew Bibles were available but not referred
What musical instruments
Piano and organ. This congregation certainly could sing, as
a lot of voices were lifted in song.
Did anything distract
On the stage were several chairs, some on the left and some
on the right. Three gentlemen wearing Geneva gowns sat in the
chairs, but I was confused as to who got to sit on the left
and who on the right. Also, during worship, some very short
verses were sung from time to time. Even though these were listed
in the order of worship, by the time I was able to find them
in the hymn book the music was finished. We were invited to
repeat the Lord's Prayer, but it was not printed, and since
I didn't know which version they'd be saying (who art/which
art, debts/trespasses, etc.) I just mumbled in a couple of places.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The service was formal and I assume it conformed to the accepted
liturgy. It began with announcements, followed by the call to
worship, hymn of praise, a prayer of confession with sung plea
and assurance of pardon, Bible readings, sermon, communion and
benediction. The prayers were said without a lot of passion
but were not stiff. I was impressed by the fact that all were
invited to communion, with no exclusion of anyone who may not
have been baptized in the faith. We consumed the bread cubes
as they were distributed, but we were instructed to wait to
drink until all of the small disposable cups of juice had been
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
7 The Revd Senhor Reinaldet spoke in Portuguese, with
passion, and his words were translated into English.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
He spoke on "Healing Waters," taking as his text Luke
8:40-56 (Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus from the dead and
cures a woman who suffered from hemorrhages). He emphasized
that Jesus healed these women without even knowing their names.
We need to minister to the world, to people whom we may not
Which part of the service was like being in
I found the sermon to be very inspiring.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The sharing of the peace. Everyone stood, but only about half
the people moved about wishing good morning or the peace of
Christ to their fellow worshippers; the other half just stood
there and did nothing. Clearly the latter half were not comfortable
with passing the peace. We were also invited to sign a friendship
book and pass it along the pew, and then pass it back opened
so we could see the names of the other people sitting with us.
Some people signed their full names, others merely their initials.
I thought I noticed that as the book was passed back, the people
who had initialed it didn't bother to look inside at the names
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The couple sitting to my right mentioned that coffee would be
served in another building and wouldn't I be sure to come. But
as we exited to the right and made our way to the coffee hour,
no one spoke to me.
How would you describe the after-service
Coffee, tea, juice, birthday cake for those celebrating birthdays,
cookies, muffins, chips, pretzels, and popcorn (from a machine)
were all available. I helped myself to coffee in a styrofoam
cup. I doubt it was fair traded, in spite of having a missionary
from Brazil speaking. I hung around for about ten minutes, but
no one spoke to me or invited me to sit at their table with
them. I didn't see the pastor or guest preacher in the hall,
so I left.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 There are many other churches in the area where I would
be likely to return sooner. I would have expected that this
church, located on a main street in an area where thousands
of seasonal residents make their winter homes, and which professes
to extend a special outreach to passengers and crew from the
cruise ships, would concentrate more on making sure that visitors
fit right in. Clearly they seem to be taking Luke's message
too much to heart – no need to learn these people's names.
Yet when I look at their website and the order of worship, the
church has a lot happening. I'm sure once you broke into the
"club" you could fit right in; it's the breaking in
that may take some effort.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes it did. And I will make sure that when I go back to my home
church, I will recognize the visitor.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The message of ministering to those without a name.
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