|660: Christ Episcopal, Overland Park, Kansas, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Asian Anglican.
The church: Christ Episcopal Church, Overland Park, Kansas, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: Christ Church is a very traditional, but warm, ECUSA church. There is plenty of room in its A-frame stone structure. The nave is gorgeous, with lots of great colorful banners.
The neighbourhood: The church is located diagonally across from a country club in affluent Johnson County, Kansas.
The cast: Ronald L. McCrary, rector, and an unnamed deacon who assisted in the service.
What was the name of the service?
5.30 pm Sunday "high energy" jeans-casual worship.
How full was the building?
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a greeter handed me a bulletin and welcomed me. The person sitting in front of me also introduced themselves at the passing of the peace.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable indeed.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The pre-service atmosphere was pretty quiet. It seemed almost "library quiet." Most of the people seemed to be uncomfortable to make too much noise. The ceilings are quite high and the slightest whisper seemed to reverberate within those stone walls.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to our Sunday evening service."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
I couldn't find a BCP in my pew good thing I always come prepared with my own. However, there is a screen which comes down and the service music and responses are projected directly above the altar. A friend remarked that this looked like karaoke church.
What musical instruments were played?
Lots of instruments saxophone, drums, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards and flute. A full complement of musicians for this service.
Did anything distract you?
The service was a eucharistic service, but I was a bit dismayed with how casual everything was at communion. I knew the service was "jeans casual", but I didn't think that also meant the celebrant! Actually, the celebrant was wearing shorts and a polo shirt. After the sermon and the creed, he simply bopped over behind the altar where a deacon (who was wearing a t-shirt, khaki pants and tennis shoes but no stole) handed the celebrant his green stole. A little too low-church for my tastes. It felt uncomfortable receiving communion from a priest in tennis shoes at the altar rail!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was definitely upbeat. The music used for the worship time was very contemporary. I got the feeling that people wanted to clap, but didn't know how to keep in time with the music. A few hands were raised in the congregation during the worship. The church looks like it's trying to be charismatic, but doesn't know how quite to apprehend it.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
About 18 minutes.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 The preacher was very relaxed in his casual gear. He didn't stand behind the pulpit but came down to the center of the nave.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Honestly, I really can't remember. I hate to keep bringing this up, but lack of vestments at a eucharistic service was really distracting.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The nave is gorgeous. I felt transported almost to heaven with all of the beauty and warmth in there.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The casualness of the clergy.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. Everyone kind of bolted out of the church to greet the rector, and we were ignored.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Nothing to be had here.
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?
No, not really.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
"Jeans casual" extends to clergy as well as the laity of this church!