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1762: Trinity Episcopal, Shelburne, Vermont, USA
Trinity Episcopal, Shelburne, Vermont, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Hadjie.
The church: Trinity Episcopal, Shelburne, Vermont, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of Vermont.
The building: The church, of red stone in the Gothic Revival style, was designed by the 19th century American architect William A. Potter, who also designed numerous buildings for Princeton University as well as municipal offices and churches throughout the eastern United States. A noted parishioner was Dr William Seward Webb, a 19th century physician who became a wealthy railroad baron by a series of events surrounding an accident involving railroad cars made by a company in which he held a financial interest. Together with his wife Eliza, Dr Webb donated the bell tower, porte au cloche, six Tiffany stained glass windows, and the gold leaf stenciling around the interior of the nave.
The church: This is a family-friendly church. The priest made a special point of saying that children were welcome, and they were invited to sit in the choir after the passing of the peace, of which many took advantage. This is a handicapped-accessible church.
The neighborhood: Shelburne is a beautiful small town on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. Major tourist attractions include the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Farms (the former estate of William and Eliza Webb, now a national historic site), and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, whose handcrafted wares make popular holiday gifts. The Episcopal Church manages several retirement communities, affordable as well as upscale, within walking distance of Trinity Church.
The cast: The Revd Craig Smith, rector; the Revd Carole Wageman, associate rector; John Henzel, music director.
The date & time: Sunday, July 19, 2009, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
The Holy Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Mostly full. Lots of young families with small children were evident at the service, which is unusual in New England in the summertime.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I had barely walked in the back door of the parish hall and was just starting to get my bearings when the associate rector came right up to me, offered her hand and a warm smile, and asked, "Don't I know you?" We had not met before, but I felt instantly welcome. Father Smith also spoke warmly to us in the receiving line following the service.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were wooden with no cushions but were surprisingly comfortable. There were big, soft, cushy, hand-embroidered kneelers.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Somewhat reverential, but with a soft undercurrent buzz of folks greeting one another.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, everyone. We welcome you to Trinity Church."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Hymnal 1982 and Book of Common Prayer 1979. However, all of the Rite II service, including prayers, readings, short explanations of the readings, responses and rubrics, were printed in the bulletin. Therefore, one did not have to juggle books. User-friendly.

What musical instruments were played?
An organ and the voices of the choir.

Did anything distract you?
The fact that this is my first Mystery Worship report caused the biggest distraction for me. I was concentrating on noticing everything that I would want to report on. Also, I was a bit distracted by the beauty of the architecture, interior decoration and Tiffany windows.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
I would say that the style was typical of the Episcopal churches that I have visited in New England. That is to say, it was traditional, but at the same time felt informal and friendly.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – The sermon style was plain and simple, easy to follow and easy to remember, with one main point. The preacher began with a real life story and deftly linked it to the gospel reading of the day.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was based on the gospel reading, Mark 6:30-34,53-56 (Jesus feels compassion for the crowds, regarding them as sheep without a shepherd). We should be like Jesus and connect to one another on the level of our human need.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The interior of the church created a mood of mystical beauty. I felt this especially strongly as I walked through the choir to the altar to receive communion.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
No one talked to us during the coffee hour.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
After the service, as we were standing in the receiving line, the woman behind us introduced herself and was friendly, but did not invite us to the coffee hour.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The offerings were fairly nutritious: fresh fruit, cheese and crackers, and popcorn balls for the kids. There was good coffee and tea served in ceramic mugs – no styrofoam!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I were to move to this area, I would seriously consider choosing this church. I would want to try it a few more times, though, to see if the parishioners were interested in newcomers.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The warm welcome given to me by the Revd Carole Wageman, and the sermon.
 
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