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Hill Church, Village of Indian Hill, Ohio, USA
Hill Church, Village of Indian Hill, Ohio, USA.
They are a dual denomination church, which means (quoting from
their website): "While we are two denominations, we are
one congregation." They are members of The
Episcopal Church, Diocese
of Southern Ohio; and The
Presbyterian Church (USA), Presbytery
The main building is a basic rectangular shape, very simply
appointed, consecrated in 1952. On its six acre property are
a burial ground, children's playground and nursery school, a
youth center, and storage garage. Plans for enlarging their
facilities are under development.
They are governed by a Vestry-Session comprised of nine Presbyterian
members (the Session) and nine Episcopalian members (the Vestry),
whose members are elected by the congregation to serve staggered
three-year terms. The Vestry-Session, in turn, elects a Board
of Stewards to administer all property and funds. The congregation
sponsors all the usual social, outreach, youth, and educational
ministries, detailed on the parish website. They are reputed
to have an excellent music program, featuring several choirs
and a handbell choir. They host homeless families through the
Interfaith Hospitality Network, and were a founding member of
the Inter Parish Ministry, funding a variety of social services
for the working poor. Worship services are held at 8.30 and
10.30 each Sunday, but I really could not discern any strict
pattern as to how these different services rotate. The earlier
service seems to be an Episcopal eucharist at least three times
a month; at the later service, eucharistic and non-eucharistic
services appear to alternate. It does not appear that Indian
Hill ever resorts to a hybrid service; services are either Episcopal
Indian Hill is a highly affluent suburb on the northeast side
of Cincinnati. Founded as a village, it became a city under
Ohio law once its population reached 5000. Although legally
a city, it officially changed its name to "Village of Indian
Hill" to emphasize the laid-back, small-town ambience it
strives to cultivate. Some 25 per cent of the city's acreage
is publicly held. The area immediately surrounding Indian Hill
Church consists of single-family residences, a park, and schools.
The Revd Anne Wrider, Episcopal priest in charge, celebrated
the eucharist and preached. Brenda Waugh was organist and pianist.
Lay readers were Barbara Wallace and Rosemary Welsh. Assisting
with the administration of communion were Suzanne Beck, Mary
Dieckmann, Ellen Hammond, and Cindy McNeil. Chris Neumann was
The date & time:
Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 18, 2013, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Episcopal Holy Eucharist: Rite II.
How full was the building?
Less than half full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An usher handed me a bulletin.
Was your pew comfortable?
Padded pews, very comfortable. There were kneelers under the
pews, but they were not used for this service; we stood for
the intercessions and confession/absolution, and the congregation
either stood or sat for the eucharistic prayer.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Pretty chatty, even after Ms Waugh began her prelude.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning. It's good to see so many familiar faces back
What books did the congregation use during the
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and The Presbyterian
Hymnal (1990). The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard
Version, was in the pews, but not used in this service.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ (probably electronic) and piano, mostly the former. Hymnody was all very traditional.
Did anything distract
The Sanctus used was from Richard Proulx's A Community Mass.
It exists in two versions: the first a setting of the International
Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) text from the 1970s,
the more recent an adaptation to the translation in the new
Roman Missal. I usually attend Sunday services at Materfamilias'
Catholic parish, where we have been singing the latter version
for a couple of months now. Indian Hill Church, not having adopted
the new Roman Missal, still sings the older version as given
in the Episcopal hymnal. I managed to botch this one completely,
since there was no musical notation in the bulletin (and no
Episcopal hymnal in the pew). I can only hope I didn't disturb
those sitting around me too much.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Fairly stiff upper-lip; a formal Episcopal eucharist, as seen
through a Presbyterian lens. The Presbyterian ethos was seen
most clearly in the approach to music for the service: it was
basically a said service with several hymns inserted. The Gloria
was replaced by two verses of "When morning gilds the skies."
Psalm and fraction anthem were said, and there was no music
before the gospel at all. Of the BCP liturgy, only the Sanctus
was sung. As if to compensate, a hymn was added between sermon
and creed. We could receive communion either standing at a station
in front of the chancel or kneeling at the altar rail.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
14 minutes (not including the "Children's Moment").
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 The Revd Mrs Wrider spoke well, even though she read
from a prepared text.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
At the "Children's Moment," she spoke of animals as proof that
God has a sense of humor. He loves us so much that he gave us
a beautiful and diverse world to delight in. After the children
were taken out for their activities, Mrs Wrider said to the
congregation, "I thought after that gospel reading we needed
a little levity." (The gospel for the day was Luke 12:49-56
Jesus rebukes the disciples for not knowing that he will
bring division, not peace). She stated that she found today's
gospel disturbing, and not helpful to her faith. Therefore,
she was going not to preach on the gospel, but rather on the
Nicene Creed, as one of the parishioners had asked her to do
recently. She led the congregation through the different clauses
of the creed, adding explanatory comment when she felt it appropriate.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Seeing this congregation at worship, and realizing they have been living and worshipping together as an ecumenical community for some three-quarters of a century.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well ... not hellish, but I personally would have preferred
a sermon on the readings. I don't know that it helps us simply
to ignore Jesus' "hard" sayings. And there were two other readings
in the lectionary, including the Song of the Vineyard from Isaiah
5, and an epistle (although the latter wasn't read at this service).
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
I remained in my pew and listened to Ms Waugh's postlude (the
19th century German composer Adolf Hesse's Postludium).
But no one spoke to me just then. A bit later I had a delightful
chat with the Revd Mrs Wrider and a parishioner, and they were
both quite welcoming.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Coffee, lemonade, and snacks in front of the church, but I never
made it to the refreshments.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 Can a Lutheran and his Catholic spouse find happiness
in an Episcopal and Presbyterian parish? I am quite impressed
with the ecumenical path this congregation has taken, and they
seem to have a commitment to social justice, and quite a lot
going on in the parish. But the "hymn sandwich" approach to
liturgy would take some getting used to (although, in fairness,
I realize how difficult it might be to teach a congregation
a lot of liturgical music when, in the cycle of services they
follow, an Episcopal eucharist comes around only about once
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How horribly I botched the singing of the Sanctus. I should
have had the good sense just to sit that one out.
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