|266: Church of the Resurrection, New York City, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: Newman's Own.
The church: Church of the Resurrection, 74th Street, New York City, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA).
The building: Non-descript red brick exterior. The interior was very stark, rather as if one had taken a few ultra-Catholic trappings and stuck it into the middle of a Congregational church. There was an odd sense of a lack of proportion. The very austere surroundings and the small altar were out-balanced by a huge picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, centre stage tabernacle, and a rather medieval crucifix which had symbols of the evangelists on each end of the cross. Between the extremely plain stained glass windows, there was a framed set of what must be the most horrid rendition of the Stations of the Cross in the history of Christendom.
The neighbourhood: Upper middle class brownstones and a few smart shops. The lower floor of the church, where the coffee hour was held, was not in the best of repair and was rather dusty, which seemed strange in a neighbourhood where no one has had to apply for public assistance any time recently.
The cast: The preacher was Richard J. Mammana, Jr., apparently a divinity student. (Anglican Internet nuts will recognise Richard as the host of Project Canterbury.) Names of the celebrant and deacon were not provided in the leaflet.
What was the name of the service?
Solemn Mass with Sermon.
How full was the building?
Half full, with perhaps 50 people, nearly all of whom were elderly.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not at the door it was a small parish where everyone seemed to know each other. The celebrant, recognising an outsider, did offer a welcome both during the exchange of the peace and on the way out.
Was your pew comfortable?
Exceptionally comfortable. Roomy, and with nicely padded seats.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Extremely quiet, largely because many of the congregation arrived late.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Thou shalt purge me, O Lord, with hyssop..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
1979 Book of Common Prayer (Rite 1), and the Hymnal 1982.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ. The choir was rather good, and the lady who sang the Introit will sound like a renaissance angel with a few more years of coaching.
Did anything distract you?
There was a tenor soloist, Shaun Dixon from New Zealand, who apparently is a man of some prestige, and, on the way in, each worshipper was given a hand-out detailing his kudos. However, his excellent rendition of "The Holy City" at the offertory was extremely distracting a very tall, broad-shouldered man in a natty suit, he stood in the chancel, amidst the sea of slouching choir members in cassocks, and accompanied his solo with hand gestures more suited to the operatic stage. My naughty side then pondered that he, sadly, must have read the hand-out and taken each word to heart.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Rather self-conscious, "high on reverence, low on style" Anglo-Catholic. The service was as high as one could get without having a nose bleed, though the celebrant, during the asperges, had the grim, deadpan expression usually reserved for low churchmen who are conducting communion services on (sigh) weekdays at York Minster. Oddly, I had the feeling that the building was blushing at housing Anglo-Catholics in much the same fashion.