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2463: Covenant Presbyterian, Sun City West, Arizona, USA
Covenant Presbyterian, Sun City West, AZ (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Amanda B. Reckondwythe.
The church: Covenant Presbyterian, Sun City West, Arizona, USA.
Denomination: Presbyterian Church in America, Presbytery of the Southwest.
The building: A church in the Spanish Mission Revival style, as are so many in this area. Inside, one finds a bright room with beige walls, purple carpeting, and blonde wood pews and furnishings. At the front is a communion table on which rests an open Bible. Pulpit and chairs are on a raised platform behind the table. To the left are an organ console, grand piano, and choir seating (although no choir was present).
The church: They sponsor a chapter of Women in the Church and offer adult Bible classes. They hold an annual Thanksgiving event called "Pie 'n Praise" (the pastor said that in the past the emphasis had been on pie, but heíd rather see it on praise). In addition to the Sunday morning service, they also have vespers on Sunday evenings. Once each month they conduct a service at a local assisted living facility.
The neighborhood: The church is located at the corner of Aleppo Drive and Spanish Garden Drive in Sun City West, a retirement community among the northwesterly suburbs of Phoenix. This is primarily a residential district, but there are stores, restaurants and medical offices not far away.
The cast: The Revd Thomas Troxwell, pastor; June Ruyle, organist.
The date & time: Sunday, November 18, 2012, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Lordís Day Worship.

How full was the building?
About one-quarter full; I counted room for about 200.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
No.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Some men were noisily trying to resolve some problems with the PA system (it had just been installed). As people entered, there was lots of "Morning, how are you?" being exchanged. The organist struck up a medley of hymns.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning to all of you." This by the pastor, who was wearing a black Geneva gown.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Trinity Hymnal; The Holy Bible, English Standard Version; a service leaflet. There was also a card labeled "Welcome to Worship" that regulars and newcomers alike were expected to sign.

What musical instruments were played?
Electronic organ.

Did anything distract you?
The organist favored vibrato, making the rather large instrument sound like the old Hammond Organ soundtracks heard on soap operas. The gentleman sitting in front of me was wearing a hideous green blazer, the kind they make golf pros wear at tournaments.

Covenant presbyterian, Sun City West, AZ (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A typical Protestant mixture of hymns, prayers, scripture readings, announcements, and inspirational sayings. In the Lordís Prayer we used the "debts Ö debtors" variant. In the Apostlesí Creed we prayed for the "holy catholic church". There was no communion today.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
19 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The pastorís sermon was a well researched discourse on Psalm 92 (it is good to give thanks to the Lord) but I thought he rambled on quite a bit.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
When we come to church, are we prepared to give thanks? We are thankful for Godís faithfulness and unfailing love. It is good to give thanks, but what does the word "good" mean? It is not merely an empty word, but means "glorious and reasonable". Our thanks must be substantial. God does not "make us" thankful. We do not thank God in a casual way, but rather with all our being, including music. God calls on all of us to see his glory. Those who refuse to do so are his enemies.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sermon made me think about what it means to be thankful to God.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I thought the service as a whole had a disjointed, rambling feel to it.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The gentleman in the green blazer shook my hand. Another gentleman introduced himself, and I gave him my first name. "Is that your full name?" Green Blazer asked. I thought that was a bit pushy. The pastor was shaking hands at the door, but he had left by the time I got done with Green Blazer.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
They were having a pot-luck luncheon, and Green Blazer invited me to stay, but after his pushy remark I really wasnít in the mood. It did smell delicious, though.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 – Aside from the fact that I am not Presbyterian, this church wouldnít be on my short list. There was just something about the service Ė I donít quite know what Ė that felt uninspiring and disjointed.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
No.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
"Is that your full name?"
 
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