|661: Little Trinity, Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
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Mystery Worshipper: basilica.
The church: Little Trinity, 425 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The building: Victorian outside, surprisingly bright and airy inside, with pretty tinted glass and clean cream paint.
The church: The congregation included middle class WASPs of all ages. I got the impression that they were mostly professionals and academics. Everyone was well dressed even the teenagers and 20-somethings who wore jeans.
The neighbourhood: Little T (as opposed to a bigger "Church of the Holy Trinity" in the same diocese of Toronto) is the affectionate name of this east downtown community church.
The cast: Rev. Chris King was the celebrant and Rev. Dr. Renata Koke was the preacher.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Nearly full we had to "push people" along the pew to fit in.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A bulletin was handed to us with a smile as we came in but we were not otherwise greeted (maybe because the service had started and we were already inside the nave by this time).
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was very narrow front to back but with a cushion it was surprisingly comfortable for a Victorian Anglican pew. However the next pew was so close in front that it would have been very difficult for a large person to fit in!
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Unfortunately, as we were late we missed this.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
The announcements were being made at the very beginning of the service and the congregation was exhorted to come and "polish and clean" for Christmas as we entered.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Book of Common Prayer in a booklet form, the red Anglican Hymn book (with music) and the New Revised Standard Bible.
What musical instruments were played?
A nice grand piano for most of the service and the organ for the recessional hymn. There was, surprisingly for such a large church, no choir.
Did anything distract you?
The monotonous, meaningless, repetitive, too loud "elevator music" during the "quiet" time. The children's message, which was an elaborate mime, didn't make any sense to me, although some people laughed a little.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A very little bit of clapping. The children's message ended in a song and the congregation clapped in rhythm to it. Otherwise it was pretty staid, conventional and predictable.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 The preacher, Rev. Dr. Renata Koke gave an excellent theology lecture which lasted for the middle 20 minutes. For the first two and last four minutes we got a glimpse of the practical application and of the real meaning behind the obvious joy on her face as she preached the word of God.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
She preached on the Old Testament reading: Isaiah 64:1-9. The message was that while waiting expectantly for Christ's coming, we may experience setbacks, which we should not allow to deflect us from the preparation. She gave a very rich description of God as the potter and our role as the clay: Christ-centred and malleable.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The beautiful sun streaming in through the tinted glass windows on this cold December morning of the first Sunday in Advent. The soprano soloist who sang two arias from Messiah. The lovely peaceful, thoughtful voice of the Intercessor who provided the calmest part of the service, with meaningful prayers. The group communion where everyone stayed at the rail until everyone had communicated before rising for the next group.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The fact that at no time was there any peace and quiet. The priest announced a "quiet time" after the intercessions for private prayer, but the piano playing was anything but quiet and really distracted me from any private prayer at all. The occasional distant rumble of the Toronto street cars and the odd squawk from the PA system. The rather blank expressions on most of the congregation's faces. The fact that at the time of the peace we didn't pass it, only verbally responded to the priest.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People came up and were really friendly and welcoming. I was told there were eight or so Bible studies happening at the church and how active and busy it is.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Decent coffee, served in a china cup. I'm not sure if there were any cookies.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 If I were living in Toronto I would go to other churches to try them out. However I would return to this one to try other services and Bible studies before committing myself.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Um... well... sort of. I liked what was said by the priest. He sounded very Christ-centred, but I am still rather puzzled by the blank stares on the faces of the congregation and wonder if Christ has really hit them yet. I missed the joy of the Holy Spirit, although I felt the love was there, and maybe the peace, too. At the end we were invited to go up to the altar rail for prayer, but I could not see anyone there and there was so much activity with a rehearsal for next week's pageant that it would have been difficult to have privacy.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The bright sunlight shining into the church through the windows.