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150: St Peter's, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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St Peter's, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Mystery Worshipper: Woman in the back pew
The church: St Peter's, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Canada
The building: 1960s neo-modernish à la Frank Lloyd Wright, sort of.
The neighbourhood: Located in a mixed upper-middle class neighbourhood, amid comfortable single homes, small flats, a large senior high school and a shopping plaza across to the east side with a large pharmacy, a cafe, a bank, etc.
The cast: The rector is Bishop Gary Woolsey, the assistant is The Reverend Giovanni Di Vincenzo.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion, 7th Sunday after Epiphany.

How full was the building?
The building was fairly full, every pew was occupied with only the occasional gap between worshippers.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
There were four official greeters, two of whom were in their costumes from the play presently running at the church. The St Peter's Players were presenting their annual theatrical production. This year it was "Anne of Green Gables", the musical.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was as comfortable as any wooden non-cushioned pew can be.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The pre-service atmosphere was quietly friendly, with regular attendees greeting each other with a smile of whispered greeting. I received a few polite but friendly smiles as well. The atmosphere was conducive to thinking and I was able to ponder serious matters (e.g. how to place the Mystery Worship calling card in the collection plate without being noticed).

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We will sing the opening song which is printed in your bulletin. Please rise."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Aside from the bulletin already mentioned, which contained some of the songs as well as the readings for the day, we used the Book of Alternative Services and the new hymnal "Common Praise".

What musical instruments were played?
Guitars. A musical group called "Praise" led the music – five people, all of whom sang and four of whom also played their guitars.

Did anything distract you?
Nothing at all distracted me. The atmosphere was casual and relaxed, with everyone behaving naturally. "Very Calgary," I was told.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
"Praise", whose music could best be described as a coffee house style, played non-traditional songs that everyone seemed to know. The congregation readily joined in the singing, reminding me of 1960s singalongs.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
19 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7. The assistant, whom everyone referred to as "Gio", is a very sincere young man.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on Mark 2:1-12. The message: through prayer and love we can help ourselves and our fellow man overcome obstacles which paralyse.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I wouldn't say any part of the service was like being in heaven, since I have yet to visit there. However, the whole atmosphere of the service was warm and welcoming. During the Peace everyone made an effort to shake as many hands as possible, even leaving their pews to reach out to friends as well as visitors.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The whole service was traditional yet casual, therefore I felt quite at home and relaxed. I neither saw nor did anything embarrassing.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
At the end of the service it was announced that coffee and tea would be served in the lower hall, the upper hall – the usual place for after service coffee – was set up for the play. We all obediently traipsed downstairs, following the leaders.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee, self-service from a large electric urn, was hot and good. There were glass mugs, proper cups and saucers for tea, and glasses for fruit juice.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8. If I lived in Calgary and not too far away from the church, this would be a good one to join. It appears to be a very active parish, offering a variety of opportunities for involvement.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I have never encountered anything that made me not glad to be a Christian.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
At the end of the service when "Praise" was performing the postlude, a goodly number of the congregation stayed seated and sang along. When the piece finished there was applause... not a typically Anglican thing to do!
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