|800: Christus Victor, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: DixieChick.
The church: Christus Victor, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, USA.
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The building: It almost looks like a Spanish Mission. It has a complete wooden exterior with the steeple emerging from the roof of the building at a 45 degree angle, unlike traditional steeples.
The church: The people at this service were diverse in the way they dressed for church and diverse in race as well. The church does a lot for the community when it comes to the poor and those in emergency situations. It also has a coffee house that's open on Saturdays as well as a groovy swing band!
The neighbourhood: The church is right next to a neighborhood full of homes and apartments and is on Hwy. 90, which cuts the city of Ocean Springs in the middle and runs from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Florida.
The cast: Pastor: Rev. H. Julian Gordy. Pastor emeritus: Rev. Billy Rutrough. Parish musician: Gigi Reeks. Director of Christian education: Karen Whitley.
What was the name of the service?
No name, but this Sunday was the 5th week of Lent.
How full was the building?
Decently full, but not so full that you start sweating from all of the body heat in the room.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
After the service was over and I stood by myself drinking the coffee, some nice people came up to me, said hello and introduced themselves.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable! Good cushioning for the bum. Kneelers were hinged and nice for those of us that have bony knees.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I arrived late, so there isn't much to say about the pre-service atmosphere.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
They have Bibles and hymn books, but I used the program they had out which contained everything you needed – the chants, hymns and prayers, as well as the order of the worship service. I love it when a church does this, especially when I'm visiting.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, piano and guitar.
Did anything distract you?
Unruly children and crying babies. The sanctuary is equipped with two crying rooms, so why the heck did those parents not use them?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was definitely not happy-clappy, but it wasn't too stiff either. Their worship is a lot like the Episcopalians.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
Approximately 20 minutes or so.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 The only reason I gave a 5 is because I have heard a sermon on this topic already. Other than that, he was a fine preacher!
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We can't put God in a box. The journey with the mysterious is a pilgrimage where the journey is just as important as the goal. Our faith is a growing one and should never stagnate.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Air conditioning in the Deep South, to me, is heaven – and that's what they had plenty of!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well I don't have kids and have pretty much lost all my patience when it comes to them, so I would have to say that it was the unruly children and having to wait too long for the parents to finally decide that their children were just a bit too noisy for church.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A couple of people came up to me and introduced themselves, asking me where I was from and if I belonged to a Lutheran church. I felt very welcome to be there.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee is coffee! It was good and they had lots of ceramic mugs to choose from.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 If I were dead-set on only attending a Lutheran church, then this church would be the church for me, but I'm still looking around.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How clean and white the sancturary is!