|655: Holy Trinity, Kerkyra, Corfu, Greece|
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Mystery Worshipper: Rambling Rector.
The church: Holy Trinity, Kerkyra, Corfu, Greece.
Denomination: Church of England (Diocese in Europe).
The church: As might be expected, the congregation were mainly ex-patriots. Most were British but we heard North American and South African accents, as well as a few native voices.
The neighbourhood: The church has occupied the old Ionian parliament premises since the end of the British Protectorate in 1864, when the garrison church was returned to the Orthodox.
The cast: The Rev. Frank Holt, locum chaplain.
What was the name of the service?
The newsletter advertised morning prayer but this was, in fact, holy communion.
How full was the building?
It was pretty full until the sunday school joined us; they filled up the remaining space.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were given a brief "good morning." from the sidesman as he handed us our books. The seemingly interminable notices had already started as we arrived, so no-one else could greet us.
Was your pew comfortable?
The other "taverna touch": straight-backed chairs with those woven raffia seats that leave their impression on your nether regions. But just so we didn't forget we were Anglicans, they were arranged in serried ranks so as to resemble pews as much as possible.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The people were quiet and mostly attentive, as the lady giving the notices took us through every event from mid-October to beyond Christmas, with appeals for help at each of them.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Well, as it's now almost 12 o'clock..." (the congregation laughed, as it was in fact 10.47am)... "hymn number 278."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Songs and Hymns of Fellowship and Common Worship Holy Communion Order One.
What musical instruments were played?
A keyboard. The first and the last hymns were played at a funereal pace which seemed to get slower and slower.
Did anything distract you?
The sidesman constantly paced backwards and forwards during the reading of the first two Bible passages.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
I suspect it was slightly more happy-clappy then the locum chaplain was comfortable with, and much less so than at least some of the congregation would have liked. There was great fervour and some tentative hand-raising in the hymn-singing, and the choice was all of the "Moody & Sankey" ilk.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 Frank had an engaging way of making us feel he was talking with us rather than at us, even when he was telling us off!
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Intercontinental Church Society had just appointed a new full-time chaplain, who was due in the new year after a long interregnum. The preacher, who had served as a locum over last Christmas, had made the mistake of emailing to congratulate him; he'd ended up serving another locum term at short notice. It was a bit of an "in" sermon about preparing for the the arrival of the new chaplain, with not a lot for the casual visitor to take away.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The Sunday school children most of whom had been baptised and chrismated in the Orthodox church quietly and reverently received communion. It seemed so right and moved me almost to tears.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The first and last hymns were spoilt by excruciating rallantandos.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The chaplain and his wife greeted us and got chatting; no one else had much of a chance. One or two said "hello," or "where are you staying?" over coffee.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
A good big mug of instant: very acceptable.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 I would probably become Orthodox and come here occasionally for old times sake.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The beautiful, heart-felt prayers that the lay intercessor had obviously spent so much time in composing.