|798: St Alexis, Lafayette, Indiana, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: Mainline Pilgrim.
The church: St Alexis, Lafayette, Indiana, USA.
The building: The church is a small, white-washed building sitting in a gravel parking lot with a large Orthodox cross attached to the front. The building has a pre-fabricated feel to it.
The church: St Alexis ministers to the tiny Orthodox community of Lafayette.
The neighbourhood: The church is in a quiet, unremarkable residential neighborhood in Lafayette.
The cast: Father Gregory Allard, celebrant.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About half full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I said hello to a family while hanging up my coat, but besides that no one greeted me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Since this was an Orthodox church, everyone had to stand for most of the service, a rather uncomfortable time. I did notice that even the Orthodox worshippers were uncomfortable after a while, too. We did get to sit for the sermon on the single row of ordinary wooden pews along the back wall. You wouldn't imagine how comfortable a hard, wooden pew is after standing for and hour and a half.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A man in a black cassock was chanting something while the laity wandered in and kissed the icons.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
It was nigh impossible for a non-Orthodox to determine the exact point at which the service had actually begun, but according to the missal, the opening words were, "Blessed is the kingdom of God the Father, the Son..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The only book was a spiral-bound order of worship.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
I noticed a guy had something blue stuck to the bottom of his shoe while he was bowing to the crucifix. I also found the half dozen screaming toddlers rather distracting, of course...
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
I have no idea how "stiff-upper-lip" it was for an Orthodox church, but I would call it stiff-upper-lip.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was about self-denial and the need to deny ourselves our need for instant gratification, and especially our need to have our suffering observed by others.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
It was rather interesting to experience a form of Christian worship so unlike mine, which makes one realize the variety of God's kingdom.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The service was hardly visitor friendly. I spent the first half flipping around the missal looking for where we were in the liturgy.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I happened to know someone at the church, and he talked to me for a bit. It was impossible to miss the after service coffee in such a tiny building, since I to push my way through the line for it to get to the door.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't try anything, but I noticed bagels and the like, normal after church fare.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
1 I'm not an Orthodox, and with all due respect, I have no interest in converting.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Honestly, the service and the missal notes dwelt on the exclusiveness of Orthodox Christianity too much to make other Christians feel very glad.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The profusion of icons in the church.