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304: St George's Taminick, Parish of Wangaratta West and the Warbys, Victoria, Australia
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St George's Taminick
Mystery Worshipper: Mr Anonymous.
The church: St George's Taminick, Parish of Wangaratta West and The Warbys, Victoria, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Australia.
The building: The church is located in a paddock on the south side of the Warby Ranges. Clearly it's well loved by the local community, as the weather boards are freshly painted and the interior is neat and tidy, with flowers on the altar. There's no power (the lights are kerosene) and the windows are of the old, slightly imperfect and rippling variety.
The church: There's no township at Taminick – just the church, the CFA shed, a few farmhouses and vineyards seperated by paddocks. I suspect that the congregation of 30-odd probably included every Anglican in the district!
The neighbourhood: This is a particularly beautiful location. Behind the church rises a hill covered in eucalypt forest – in front is a lake surrounded by other low ranges. Interspersed between the cattle paddocks are vineyards, their leaves just turning an autumnal gold.
The cast: Rev. Scott Moncrieff, celebrant and preacher; Mother Rita Mary CCK, the organist, plus a server.
What was the name of the service?
Eucharist, Easter Day at 8.00am.

How full was the building?
Mostly full – the church only sits about 40, so it's not hard to do!

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, I was given the hymnbook, order of service and pew sheet as I arrived, with a warm smile.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was comfortable, but kept on moving throughout the service every time I – or the people behind me – sat up or down. At one stage I thought it was going to topple over. There were no kneelers, but the carpet was reasonably soft. Mother Rita Mary chose to sit on the floor when not playing the harmonium... perhaps the safest and most comfortable option!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The atmosphere was friendly but subdued – it was still early in the morning! People kept on arriving after the service started. I guess that's not unusual at Easter.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Christ is risen, he is risen indeed.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
An Australian Hymnbook and a parish order of service booklet. The later appeared to be taken straight from the Australian Prayer Book.

What musical instruments were played?
Mother Rita Mary, of the local Anglican convent, was playing an old, wheezy peddle harmonium that the congregation seemed to be used to – but it did miss a few notes!

Did anything distract you?
During the service the sun rose above the hill behind the church and shone through the stained glass behind the altar. Together with the view of gum trees lit by the early light through the old paned windows, it was possible to spend most of the service gazing outside, while still focusing on God.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was based on A Prayer Book for Australia and was distinctively Catholic with an east-facing mass. Fr. Scott was wearing a fiddleback chausuble and Mother Rita Mary was in veil and scapula. Most distinctive was the server in a half-lace cotta. I suspect that he wasn't a local and was on day release from either Christ Church St Lawrence or St Peter's Eastern Hill.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – the sermon was relaxed and delivered from the overscaled pulpit – a little out of place in an Anglican church of this tradition. Fr. Scott was obviously comfortable preaching to this group, who seemed to be keen to hear what he had to say.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on some comments made by the Archbishop of Melbourne at a clergy conference last year – that Jesus took a child and blessed him, took bread and broke it, and then they took Him and they broke Him.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Surely heaven is set in a vineyard and inhabited by nuns? But then how to account for the half-lace cotta...

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The wheezing of the peddle harmonium could have reminded me of the bellows driving the fires of hell – but it didn't!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It was pretty hard to look lost – short of running out the back door to graze with the neighbouring cattle, there was no option but to take tea and coffee at the back before squeezing out of the tiny narthex. People were very welcoming and I was introduced to most of the congregation.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There's no hall or kitchen facilities – tea and coffee were served out of thermos flasks brought by a parishoner. Slices were brought in Tupperware containers – and of course there were Easter eggs!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – services are only held here fortnightly at 8.00am. But if I lived here I would certainly worship here on those days and attend a larger church in nearby Wang on alternative Sundays.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes – this is a welcoming and supportive community in a tranquil location that enriches the soul.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Mother Rita Mary soldiering on at the peddle harmonium! This was a very special place to spend Easter morning, and I'll certainly make the effort to do so again next year.
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