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|1770: St Paul's
Cathedral, San Diego, California, USA
Cathedral, San Diego, California, USA.
The Episcopal Church, Diocese
of San Diego.
The church is one of the most attractive buildings I've seen
in California. From the outside, you're not overwhelmed as it
seems to be in the typical Spanish Mission style. Once you enter,
your attention will be immediately drawn to the gorgeous stained
glass in the church. The interior of the church is quite dark;
however, the climate of San Diego yields close to 300 days of
sunshine each year. The gray columns inside the church seem
a bit overwhelming at first, but you can't help but pay attention
up front to the stunning altar. The pipe organ is one of the
most impressive I've ever seen. The altar decorations were the
typical green for ordinary time.
The cathedral was featured in the Gay Pride parade the previous
Saturday, with a very large entry in the parade. The church
also has a serious commitment to the arts. They host numerous
concerts, offer music education, and even lend out music. The
church's bulletin insert is a three page foldout which lists
numerous outreach ministries.
St Paul's Cathedral is located across the street from Balboa
Park in central San Diego. The climate of San Diego is said
to be the most favorable of any city in the United States. The
area is surrounded by rolling hills, gorgeous architecture,
and beaches, mountains, and desert within an hour. The immediate
neighborhood is quite affluent, being one of the most desirable
sections of the city to live in. Most of the housing is early
20th century with some newer places as well. Parking is quite
difficult here as you have to hunt for street parking.
I think every priest in San Diego was part of this service!
The Rt Revd James R. Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, presided.
There were at least 12 vested clergy who also were present.
The clergy wore a variety of stoles that did not match. One
priest wore a gold stole; not sure why.
The date & time:
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 19, 2009, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Sung Holy Eucharist.
How full was the building?
The cathedral is quite large. I'd estimate about 300 people.
There was certainly sufficient room for more, but the church
seemed comfortably full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not really. I was handed a bulletin when I entered, but the people up front didn't seem to recognize me as a visitor. I did shake hands with a few people during the peace.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes. I wouldn't want to spend three hours there, but for a short
service it was fine.
How would you describe the pre-service
Thankfully, very quiet. I was surprised at how dark the interior
of the building was.
What were the exact opening words of the
The bishop chanted, "Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
I loved this: The acclamation was done before the processional
hymn. The people responded in chant, "And blessed be God's kingdom,
now and forever, Amen."
What books did the congregation use during the
The entire service was printed on a very thick booklet that
was handed to me upon entering the church. The Hymnal 1982
and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer were available in
What musical instruments
Organ – and what a fine instrument this organ is. The original
organ dates from 1887, with several stops still in use. It was
enlarged in 1915 and again in 1950. It was completely rebuilt
in 1969 by the Aeolian-Skinner Company (one of the company's
last projects west of the Mississippi River), retaining the
best pipework from the previous instruments. A final set of
modifications made in 1989-1990 has resulted in the instrument
that serves the cathedral today. The organ was one of the best
I've ever heard and it was played expertly.
Did anything distract
Yes, and it was my own fault. The very lengthy processional
hymn ("Alleluia, Sing to Jesus") was split on two
opposite pages of the bulletin. I was annoyed at having to go
back and forth between pages of the bulletin. Why I didn't grab
the hymnal right in front of me, I don't know.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Pretty far up the candle. Most of the service was chanted, which
I liked. I thought I'd be disappointed by the lack of incense
as the thurible didn't produce much smoke during the procession.
However, as the procession arrived at the sanctuary, the bishop
grabbed the thurible and censed the altar like a man on a mission.
The second censing (as we sang the offertory hymn) was likewise
carried out with vigor.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes and 6 seconds! This church publishes their sermons
on iTunes and I subscribed.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 I'm sure Bishop Mathes was tired from the exhausting
general convention that had just concluded. Still, he delivered
a great sermon. A verger led him to the pulpit and he carried
no notes with him, nor did he appear to glance down at any notes
that may have been left in the pulpit for him.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Most of the sermon dealt with the recent general convention.
Bishop Mathes was quite animated in his opinions about the convention.
He talked about his support for same-sex marriage and the inclusion
of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church.
Which part of the service was like being in
The procession. I've never seen one like this. Three vergers,
two banners, incense, deacon, vested clergy. I've never been
able to worship in a church like this. I didn't know beforehand
that the bishop would be taking this service, but I'm glad I
just happened to attend it!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I don't like Eucharistic Prayer C. I'm not sure why it was chosen
for this service. Does this church cycle through the Prayer
Book and use each setting? I'm not sure. I love reading science
fiction, but every time I hear Eucharistic Prayer C, I think
of Captain Kirk leading the service.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It was quite hot for San Diego and the courtyard where coffee
was being served seemed to empty out quickly. However, your
Mystery Worshiper had not yet had any coffee that morning and
enjoyed the excellent coffee that was served. A member of the
congregation engaged me in conversation and we discussed some
Episcopal churches in other parts of the United States.
How would you describe the after-service
There were no signs around the coffee showing that it was fairly
traded. However, given the nature of this church, I'd assume
it was. The coffee was excellent and your Mystery Worshiper
had two cups.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 If I could afford to live in San Diego, I'd be here
every week. Yet, the webpage of the diocese of San Diego shows
that San Diego has an abundance of great Episcopal churches.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes, yes, and yes. I went back to my home church and told everyone
about how much I enjoyed the worship service at St Paul's in
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Reading the three page bulletin insert about all of the church's
opportunities. Love music? They have a program. Like to read?
They have book groups. They also were planning a trip to a baseball
game. This church seems to have a ministry for everyone.
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