Ship of Fools
  Bulletin Boards
  Mystery Worshipper
  Caption Competition
  Gadgets for God
  The Fruitcake Zone
  Signs & Blunders
  Born Twice
  About Ship of Fools
  Support us!
  Contact us!
657: St Alban's, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Other reports | Comment on this report
St. Alban's, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Mystery Worshipper: Luther Ann.
The church: St Alban's, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Canada.
The building: St Alban's is a small stone building in Gothic revival style. It has a beautiful garden which I wanted to explore, but I didn't know how to get in and there wasn't time. The inside was a garish blue colour but the chancel was very ornate.
The church: The church is near a college and I saw things in the announcements about the local Intervarsity chapter. The people there seemed to be of many races and this was music to my multi-cultural ears.
The neighbourhood: The church is down the street from the University of Ottawa, and Rideau Street, which is a bohemian theatre district, is nearby.
The cast: Rev. George Sinclair and assorted readers.
What was the name of the service?
Prayer Book service with hymns.

How full was the building?
Three-quarters full, I estimated.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Nobody greeted me personally when I walked in, though some older women did smile at me when they saw me.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was adequate. The kneeler was good for my extremely short height, though my husband might have been uncomfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was pretty quiet and this was conducive to reflection.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In honour of Canada Day tomorrow, please join in singing our national anthem, O Canada."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Book of Common Prayer, hymnbook with words but not music.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
It was warm in there and I was wishing for some air conditioning as it was the middle of a heat wave. Everything seemed a bit musty and overheated. The colour of the walls was a point of wonder for me, but nothing I hated.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was reverential but with feeling and spirit. In many churches, hymns are sung without feeling. This was not the case here! You could tell that people meant what they were singing.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – I'm a seminary student, so a 10 is really only reserved for the aged preaching instructor at my seminary, but the preacher impressed me. In any case, he did a very good job and he really tried to explicate the passage. He gets major points from me for actually tackling the Old Testament passage instead of preaching on the Gospel like most pastors do. He also tackled a controversial subject and did an exceptional job of explaining the biblical perspective on it and kept the integrity of the church and scripture intact.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was about David and Abigail. He talked about Abigail's actions. He then talked about the nature of whether or not something is blessed or not, using the example of the recent controversy in the church over the blessing of same-sex relationships in Vancouver.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Wonderful singing, the diversity of people, the sermon, the eucharist, the older women passing me the hymn insert for the last hymn when I discovered that my bulletin was lacking one.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The overbearing heat and the musty smell...

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We were all invited to a barbeque after the service. I had to get back to my hotel room and meet my husband, so I couldn't stay. I did talk to the rector and he was very personable and interested in my seminary studies.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The Canada Day barbeque they were offering sounded pretty good.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – It was a parish where the gospel was preached, and people were passionate about their worship. They also care about ministering to the college students, which is rare in a church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
An overwhelming yes!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Standing there politely trying to look like I was singing the words to "O Canada".
The Mystery Worshipper is sponsored by, the internet service provider from Christian Aid. By offering email services, special offers with companies such as and, surefish raises more than £300,000 a year for Christian Aid's work around the world.

Click here to find out how to become a Mystery Worshipper. And click here if you would like to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Top | Other Reports | Become a Mystery Worshipper!

© Ship of Fools 2003
Surefish logo