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of the Red Rocks, Sedona, Arizona, USA
of the Red Rocks, Sedona, Arizona, USA.
United Church of
A modern wood and brick building nestled in the spectacular
Sedona landscape, with huge picture windows everywhere. In addition
to the sanctuary, there are classrooms, offices, meeting rooms
and a parish hall, all well designed and sparkling clean, and
all affording a grand view of the scenery. On the front of the
church is a banner which reads: "Our faith is over 2000 years
old, our thinking is not. God is still speaking." Inside, the
sanctuary is light and airy, with picture windows all around
and organ pipes to the left of the altar. Choir seating and
the organ console are to the right, along with a grand piano.
The dozens of ministries and outreaches of this affluent congregation
are all well documented on their website. Of special note is
a clown ministry called "God's Clod Squad", which
(quoting from their website) "offers skits, sing-alongs,
and one-on-one magic for visitations to hospitals, nursing homes,
assisted care facilities, church programs, service clubs, schools,
and many other organizations." The congregation appears
to be very active in the community. A lady who gave us the "grand
tour" before the service pointed through a picture window
at some of the poorer trailer-park encampments that dot the
landscape and described the special outreach that the congregation
extends toward those communities.
Sedona, about a two hours' drive north of Phoenix, features
what has to be the most spectacular scenery in the United States;
some have called Sedona the most beautiful place on earth. The
landscape is full of hundreds of sandstone and iron oxide rock
formations that glow with a red-orange hue when struck by the
sun at a low angle. The unusual shapes of the rocks have earned
them such names as Coffeepot, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and
Snoopy (after the famous canine cartoon character who spends
his days supine on the roof of his doghouse). Many believe that
the red rocks of Sedona harbor spiritual vortexes, concentrated
points of energy that facilitate prayer, mediation and healing.
The Revd Donna Cavedon, associate pastor, led the service. Ryan
Holder, A.Mus.D., conducted the choir, accompanied by Suzanne
Moore on organ and piano.
The date & time:
Sunday, May 16, 2010, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Close to three-quarters full. The congregation were predominantly
elderly and were all very well dressed. There were some younger
folk among the many visitors.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Refreshments were served in the parish hall between the
earlier service and this service. A bevy of lovely people came
over to introduce themselves and welcome us, and to point us
to the cookies and coffee. One lady asked us if we would join
her in the church office for a short prayer.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was padded and comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
Welcoming and very pleasant. People were meeting and greeting
each other, and all seemed happy to be there. After joining
in the short prayer held in the parish office, we were given
a quick tour of the facilities and were asked to sign the visitor's
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning, and welcome to another lovely day in Sedona."
What books did the congregation use during the
The Pilgrim Hymnal, New Century Hymnal, and The
Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version. There was also
a service leaflet with several pages of announcements inserted.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and piano.
Did anything distract you?
Only the view from the huge picture windows! We had a splendid
panoramic view of Oak Creek Canyon and the red rocks. How do
people concentrate on the sermons with that beautiful view?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship was basic Protestant. Lots of announcements, prayers,
readings from scripture, hymns. The hymns were all conservative
and beautifully led by the choir. They did a good job with their
anthems also. Visitors were identified by name, which we thought
was a nice touch, and were asked to stand. No communion service
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 Pastor Cavedon read her sermon from notes, but she
looked up often and her tone was intimate and conversational.
She had clearly prepared her talk well.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
There are many denominations and distinctions within the Church,
but there is unity in God. There is beauty in diversity; how
dull it would be if we were all the same. What matters is that
we should impact the world with our faith.
Which part of the service was like being in
The choir was heavenly. It was equally composed of women and
men, so the blend was very good. Their rendition of that old
chestnut How Great Thou Art was too beautiful for words.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Not even the slightest hint of "the other place!"
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
After the final blessing, Suzanne Moore played the Grand March
from Rossini's Stabat Mater. For this, more than half
the congregants stayed afterward. And it was worth it! As we
left, we shook hands with Pastor Cavedon, who thanked us for
coming and invited us to return soon.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
As mentioned, refreshments were served between the two services.
There was some very tasty coffee and punch along with cheese,
crackers and homemade cookies. And some very nice people to
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 Yes, if we lived in Sedona, this church would be at
the top of our list.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. Pastor Cavedon is an exceptional speaker and the parishioners
are people we would like to get to know.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The view, the sermon and the singing.
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