|183: Holy Trinity, Midland, Texas|
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Mystery Worshipper: Lucy Locket.
The church: Holy Trinity, Midland, Texas.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: Unremarkable nouveau Gothic. It enjoys small slits of stained glass portraying the nativity and resurrection. The most interesting thing about the grounds is an unusual freestanding bell tower.
The neighbourhood: Mostly a quiet residential neighborhood not too far from downtown Midland. Midland is completely flat and this area of town is laid out with very broad one-way streets. Immediately across the street from the church are a psychologist's office and a realtor's office. Seems handy to me.
The cast: Rev Jeffrey Fouts.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Eucharist: Rite I.
How full was the building?
Not very, less than a quarter. To be fair, it was 7:45am on the first Sunday after Christmas, which was the day before.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was quite comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very quiet indeed, almost deathly. I suspect that this was because the average age of the people present was rather high.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The service begins on page 323."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, The Hymnal 1982.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The preacher, from head to toe. A young and vigorous-looking man, his blonde hair perfectly coiffed, his pants the perfect length, and his tassled loafers perfectly polished. He was quite even overly well groomed.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Perfunctory comes to mind. Again, perhaps because of the combination of after-Christmas shock and the advanced age of the assembly.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
Not as good as his grooming. I give him a 3.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Reflections on Christmas. We were notified that Jesus is behind the desecularized season. At the stable is freedom from fear and God's acceptance, which we must have the courage to accept. He told a story involving a golf club, Arnold Palmer and the quote, "When in the presence of a king, don't ask for small gifts".
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Partaking of the Communion, which always is heavenly for me.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hanging around after the service looking lost.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone hightailed out of the church building after the service, so I went straight to the church hall for coffee, where perhaps 6 or 8 people were standing around. I had a cup and hung around the coffee urn until I was so embarrassed I left. It is a painful thing not to be welcomed in such a small group.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was good and warm, in contrast to the welcome.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
That would depend on whether I lived in Midland or not. If I had to live in Midland, I would make it my regular church. But since I do not, I feel about a 2.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, but that is attributable to the Prayer Book, I am afraid.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The preachers hair and tassled loafers.