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947: St Michael's, Hahndorf, South Australia
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St Michael's, Hahndorf, South Australia
Mystery Worshipper: Ecumaniac & Sinisterial.
The church: St Michael's, Hahndorf, South Australia.
Denomination: Lutheran.
The building: The church was built in the late 1800s and is small, holding a maximum of 150 people. A raised sanctuary with a lectern and pulpit occupy one side of the altar, and the font, advent wreath and sediliae take up the other. On the wall behind the altar are some textual inscriptions in German, with one repeated in English.
The neighbourhood: Hahndorf is located in the Adelaide hills, about 25km from the city. It is advertised as being Australia's oldest German settlement. St Michael's is situated about 25m from the main street, with its school located across the road.
The cast: The service was led by pastor Steven Schultz. Vicar David Wear was the preacher.
What was the name of the service?
10.30am Traditional Service with Holy Communion.

How full was the building?
The building was about half full, with close to 80 people present.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
When we arrived we were welcomed by both the pastor and the vicar, who were standing outside. As we entered, a lady said hello and handed us our materials.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not really. They were wooden, without cushions, and a footrest was attached to each in front. Ecumaniac thought the pews were fine, but the backs were too upright for Sinisterial's liking.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The congregation was quiet and reverential. The organist, joined by a violinist, played variations on O come, O come Immanuel.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to the service this morning, especially any visitors that we may have with us."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We were given a buff-coloured order of service, a yellow church bulletin with the weekly liturgical variations, and a Lutheran Hymnal with Supplement. There were no pew Bibles.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ and violin.

Did anything distract you?
The Bible verse in German on the wall behind the altar was written in a funny script and there was one word that I couldn't quite decipher. I had to translate the verse into English and then extrapolate from the English back into German.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was very traditional, with sung liturgy and organ-accompanied hymns. The pastor had a strange way of inflecting his voice upward after each line of the confession, making it sound like a series of questions.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – Vicar David was a final year seminary student who seemed to be new to the whole preaching thing. He mixed up some grammar and at one point said "predecessors" when he meant "descendants."

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The vicar preached on Isaiah 11, referring to the seed of Jesse producing the Son of God. He used the mini-series Roots as an analogy to show that most Lutherans are related. He spoke of how family relationships were important to the Jews around the time of Jesus.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
We witnessed the slowly dying practice of discontinuous communion (table communion), where people are served communion and dismissed row by row. It was a refreshing change from conga-line communion.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The pulpit was high up on the wall and the vicar was a tall man, so during the sermon I had to crane my neck to see him. After a while my neck got a bit sore.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We left the church and shook hands with both clergy again. A lady who had been sitting in front of us complimented us on our singing. She asked us where we were from, in true Lutheran fashion.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The lady apologised that there was no coffee, but did tell us that the bookshop was open.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I lived closer to this church, I would seriously consider it as my regular church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, absolutely.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The pastor's unusual way of reciting the confession.
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