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  1303: Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Photo: Jill Sharwood

Mystery Worshipper: Nicky.
The church: Holy Trinity, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Australia.
The building: A pleasant looking red brick building with pointed arches over the windows and doors. Situated on the corner of the block.
The church: The church carries on an active outreach to the poor with their parish pantry program, emergency relief, and soup kitchen. They are proud of their music program, featuring both junior and adult choirs, and sponsor several social groups.
The neighbourhood: The Fortitude Valley area of Brisbane is mainly industrial, so many of the parishioners travel to this church. Residential areas nearby are of lower socio-economic status, making for quite a mixed congregation. The area has something of a reputation for being a bit dodgy at night.
The cast: I could not determine a name for the celebrant other than Father Trevor. The guest preacher was the Rev. Graeme Lawrence, dean of Newcastle Cathedral.
The date & time: 11 June 2006, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Solemn Mass (Patronal Festival and Celebration of the Sesquicentenary).

How full was the building?
Absolutely full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. There were two welcomers at the entrance, one handing out pew sheets and one directing everyone to the visitors' book. After being handed a pew sheet, I was led into the church and guided to a pew close to the front.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not bad. Old and wooden so you don't expect comfort to be paramount.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was a big event for the church so there was a hum of excitement. Lots of reunions of old friends by the sounds of things.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." This was said from the back of the church before the entrance antiphon and the procession.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Just the pew sheet, which had everything I needed. Hymns were taken from the New English Hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ and choir (men and women). There was also a brass quintet in the loft at the back of the church.

Did anything distract you?
About a third of the way through the mass, an elderly priest shuffled in with his caregiver. He wandered aimlessly during the peace and I was worried he was going to get confused and end up in the sanctuary party.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Anglo-Catholic – lots of birettas and double doses of incense.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
23 minutes. But as the preacher mounted the pulpit, I was surprised to see that it was none other than Dean Lawrence, whom I had known in my days of singing in the cathedral choir. This being the case, I am going to excuse myself from commenting on his style, and I will describe the contents only in very general terms.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
A bit about the history of the parish as well as some comments about the relevance of the present day church in relation to the Gospel.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The choir did a great job on the Kyrie and Gloria (Darke in F). Also the procession was amazing – one procession with thurifer for the choir and a second procession with another thurifer for the sanctuary party. The second thurifer did 360s all the way up the aisle!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The eternity that it seemed to take to get through communion. There were lots of people, admittedly, but with the amount of planning that went into the service, you would think they would have worked out a more efficient way to distribute communion. And although I was grateful for having been shown to a seat in the front, I would have been more comfortable further down the back.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There was a big party afterward to celebrate the festival. A few people smiled and made polite and brief conversation, but no one actually introduced themselves (unless introduced by a third person).

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was champagne, orange juice, and water. The champagne went down very well. (I can't speak for the orange juice or water!)

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – I would feel comfortable here, I think, if I were ever to move to Queensland.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. People were generally pleasant and I'm sure I could be accepted here.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Definitely the 360s. I've been talking about it ever since.
 
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