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3277: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, New Zealand
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Scholastica.
The church: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, New Zealand.
Denomination: Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Diocese of Auckland.
The building: Auckland's first cathedral dated from 1886 and was a Gothic Revival structure of wood, which still stands and forms a part of the modern cathedral complex. The foundation stone for the present building was laid in 1957 and the cathedral was completed and consecrated in 2017. The chancel and high altar area are 20th century Gothic – Pacific Gothic, it has been called, the only example of said style in the world. It is externally brick-built, white inside. The more recent nave is wide, with a high wooden ceiling and stained glass windows forming the walls on three sides. It is square rather than cruciform, thus enabling it to be used for community events as well as for worship services. Outside there is a sculpture called Mountain Fountain, by the artist Terry Stringer, with water flowing over it, and also adjacent is the Bishop Monteith Centre where the cathedralís offices are located.
The church: Holy Trinity is the spiritual centre of the diocese, city and region of Auckland, which includes all the northern part of the North Island of New Zealand. There are eucharist services Tuesdays through Fridays and evensong on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The cathedral choir also leads worship on Sundays during term time. Ministry is offered to children through Kathedral Kids and The Upper Room, supported by a children and families minister and youth minister. There seems to be particular interest in exploring religious diversity, and there is a good working relationship with the Roman Catholic diocese, to be manifested on Ash Wednesday this year with a shared service at St Patrickís (RC) Cathedral.
The neighbourhood: Holy Trinity is located in Parnell, one of the oldest parts of the city of Auckland. It is surrounded by well-preserved wooden buildings that form a very desirable residential district. Just north of the cathedral is the village of Parnell and to the south Newmarket and Auckland Domain, the latter a large public open space that includes Aucklandís museum and winter gardens.
The cast: The Very Revd Anne Mills, dean, gave the welcome but then said she would not be leading the service as she had been ill. The presiding priest and preacher was the Revd Ivica Gregurec, precentor. He was assisted by Stephen Lloyd, liturgist; Eileen Cockerell, reader; Michael Stoddart, director of music; and Jonathan Kubiak, cantor.
The date & time: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4 February 2018, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Sung Eucharist, Te Ratapu Tuarima O He Wa Noa Iho, commemorating Waitangi Day. Waitangi Day celebrates the treaty between Maori and Pakeha (white settlers) that created modern New Zealand. It is one of the countryís public holidays.

How full was the building?
Their website states that the nave can accommodate up to 1000 people. There were perhaps 170-180 present, including all the children who attended Sunday school elsewhere in the building.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The man and woman stewarding at the door welcomed me with a warm smile and "Good morning." They offered me a prayer book, a service booklet and a weekly news sheet, and indicated I could sit anywhere I wished.

Was your pew comfortable?
The cathedral seating is firm chairs, nicely padded. However, thereís nowhere to put down oneís books and papers unless the adjacent chair is empty.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Fairly quiet. The organist and cantor were practising quietly at the front, with several people round them apparently listening.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, everybody."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
All the words of the service except the musical items were in the New Zealand Prayer Book: He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. Hymns, the congregational mass (by New Zealand-born composer David Childs), and the words of other sung parts of the service were in the service booklet handed out on arrival.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ. This is a magnificent new instrument that was completed in September 2017. It is the largest church organ in Australasia and was commissioned from the British firm of Nicholson & Son, which celebrated its 175th anniversary while it was building it. It is the largest organ Nicholsonís has ever built. Once created, it had to be shipped all the way to Auckland for installation. It now bridges the two architectural styles of the building, with pipes climbing the walls of both sides of the nave junction. The choir were actually still on holiday but the singing was led with enthusiasm by the cantor, who also contributed an opening introit and a song during the administration of communion.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland (Organ)

Did anything distract you?
Thereís a glass screen between the nave and the choir sections of the church, and it is highly polished. Every now and again a bus passing along the road behind the cathedral was reflected in the glass, appearing (disconcertingly) to drive across the choir itself!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional Anglican eucharist, in English but with occasional sections in Maori (both official languages of New Zealand).

Exactly how long was the sermon?
10 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The precentor began by thanking the organist for the rousing fanfare that had been played as introduction to his sermon. He said he hoped he could live up to it.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on the gospel of the day: Mark 1:29Ė39 (Jesus heals the sick at the home of Simon and Andrew, and then sets out with his disciples). Jesus began his ministry simply, meeting peopleís needs in their daily lives. Jesus' disciples had seen him perform healing before, and so when he entered Simonís and Andrew's home they trusted him enough to speak of their concerns about Simon’s mother-in-law, who was sick. Jesus immediately took the practical step of healing her. We also are called to be in a close relationship with God, wherever we may be in our daily lives, and then to serve others simply, doing our best to meet their needs.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The new organ sounded wonderful, especially in the fanfare following the gospel: the vibrations could be felt through the floor! It prompted appropriate praise from the celebrant.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
It was hard to juggle the service booklet and the prayer book, and also to follow the service in the latter because it is printed in two languages. This makes sense in New Zealand but it is hard to follow when one has no idea which language will be used where. The really difficult moment was when everyone suddenly launched into the Lordís Prayer in Maori. The way itís printed in the book suggests that some lines will flow on quickly and others wonít, but the congregation did not follow any obvious pattern. Moreover, it was intoned very rapidly on a single note, but in the last line the pitch descended and the final "Amine" was spoken (not sung). There was just no way this visitor could keep up!

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland (Interior)

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The service booklet invited everyone to refreshments afterwards. The stewards also seemed to look out for strangers and pass on that message.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee itself was hot and strong, and there were some delicious coconut biscuits to go with it. However, only one person there took the trouble to look out for a visitor – everyone else was busy chatting to their friends.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – I think I could feel at home here.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The organ fanfare after the gospel.
 
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