|195: Cathedral Church of St Luke, Orlando, Florida|
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Mystery Worshipper: Commander.
The church: Cathedral Church of St Luke, Orlando, Florida, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: Gothic style with Spanish building materials (dark wood and stucco). A pleasant building.
The neighbourhood: Set in the midst of a typical Southern megapolis, where they roll up the sidewalks after 1700 on weekdays. Lots of nearby parking, though.
The cast: The Very Rev. Dr G. Richard Lobs III, Dean.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Approximately 80 per cent.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
No. There were some rather shy ushers on duty that Sunday, I suppose. During the service, they had the requisite call for visitors, which is usually a pain. At St Lukes, though, they knew how to appeal to my baser instincts. "We have a gift for all of our first time visitors," announced the Dean. An usher holding a colorfully beribboned shopping bag walked down the aisle. My greedy heart skipped a beat and before I knew it, I was standing up, identifying myself and grabbing for that bag of treats! It contained some delicious homemade cookies and a complete set of informational brochures on programs and services at St Lukes.
Was your pew comfortable?
Comfortable as pews go.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and subdued. Spiritually charged, I thought.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Alleluia! Christ is risen!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1979 Book of Common Prayer, 1982 Hymnal.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Liturgically controlled and spirited.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. This is a priest who is unashamed of his evangelical inclinations.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
God jumps the defensive trenches we build. The Jewish religion excluded Gentiles, so God jumped that trench to include the Gentiles. Should Christians build a trench around the Jews or should they be evangelized also? The preacher noted that today there are more Christian Jews in Jerusalem than at any time since the 1st century AD.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The effect of the bells' gentle ringing in a silent sanctuary as the offerings and elements were brought to the altar. This was an effective transitional moment.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Really, I can think of nothing unpleasant about the service. It is always a joy to worship at St Lukes when I am in Orlando. Frankly, I think it is worth the trip. Far more pleasant than lines at the theme parks in the area.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was rather disappointed after the warm service. Some sweet, friendly ladies belonging to the ladies guild were selling tea towels and jams in the parish hall. Most of the action was in the neat bookstore just off the parish hall. Walking out with the aforementioned bag of treats in my hand clearly identified me as a visitor. Strangely, though, only the Dean reacted to this middle-aged bagman. What a shame, for it would be a neat trick for spotting a visitor. Oh, well, the cookies were appreciated.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
They served coffee of various types. Bagels were being sold for $1.00.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
At the side altars there were laymen who were available to pray with us following communion. A very sweet lady ministered to my wife and me. I think her kindness more than compensated for the $1.00 bagels!