|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
|2608: St John's
Shaughnessy, Vancouver, Canada
The church: St
John's Shaughnessy, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of New Westminster.
Situated on a major thoroughfare (Granville Street at the corner
of Nanton Street) the building could on first sight be taken
for a crematorium! It was built in the late 1940s, and dedicated
in 1950. The church is seen as a memorial to the men and women
who served and died in World War II. The windows in the sanctuary
and chancel are made from fragments of 11th century glass from
Canterbury Cathedral that had been shattered during the bombing
raids of the war. Extensive refurbishment of the exterior, and
redesign of the interior, were undertaken some time ago by the
Vancouver firm of VIA Architecture.
The church: In
2011 the majority of members of St Johnís voted to leave the
Anglican Church of Canada over a variety of issues and now worship
in another church building. The remaining congregation are working
to enable St Johnís to continue as part of the Anglican Church
of Canada, although the cost of upkeep of their historic building
threatens to overwhelm. They offer their space for rent for
concerts, meetings and receptions. Sunday services follow both
the Book of Common Prayer and the Book of Alternative
Services, plus they hold Taize services regularly. They
maintain a special Facebook page for the youth of the congregation.
The neighbourhood: Shaughnessy
is a predominantly residential area, fairly close to Vancouver's
city centre. It includes some very expensive housing, and is
often seen as home to the city's elite.
The cast: The
Revd Michael Fuller, rector, was celebrant and preacher, assisted
by the Revd Michael Forshaw, associate priest, and one server.
The organist was Michael Dirk (lots of Michaels!) and there
was a choir of three (there should have been more).
The date & time: Feast
of St Michael and All Angels, Sunday, 29 September 2013, 10.00am.
We have received a comment on this report.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
For a huge building that could seat hundreds and still feel
that there was room for more, there were about 60 people at
the service. I noticed that half the pews at the back of the
church had been roped off to stop people from sitting in them,
so we were all in the front half of the church. This definitely
made it feel less empty.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived early, which seemed to come as a bit of a shock to the welcomers, as only one other member of the congregation had arrived before me (15 minutes before the service was due to start). But I got a nice friendly hello and was handed a service booklet and notice booklet.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was a modern wooden one, not bad as far as comfort is
concerned; it had a curved seat so you naturally slid back into
it. The kneeler was built into the pew in front and could be
pulled down or put up for whether you wanted to kneel or stand.
I was surprised to find Cheerios scattered on the floor under
How would you describe the pre-service
The atmosphere was mainly reverential, with the odd whispered
chat as people arrived and caught up on the news from their
neighbours. For his prelude, the organist played an improvisation
on the hymn "All my hope on God is founded."
What were the exact opening words of the
"In thy house, great God, we offer of thine own to thee"
(words from the third verse of the first hymn, "Angel-voices,
ever singing"), followed by the announcement of that hymn.
What books did the congregation use during the
A service booklet specially prepared for this service, with
all the words and the music for the sung part of the eucharist.
In the pew I also had the option of browsing The New Revised
Standard Bible, The Revised Standard Bible, Supplementary Eucharistic
Prayers, and Alternative Services Canada, but none
were required for the service.
What musical instruments were played?
The organ, played mainly from the console in the choir area,
except during the communion anthem when it came from the console
in the balcony at the back of the church. My only complaint
was the hymns were played far too loudly to make it enjoyable
to sing and hear others. Not even the choir could be heard leading
Did anything distract you?
The Cheerios! I didn't want to put my feet on them and crunch them and get them all over the carpet.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
It was definitely Anglican in the best sense of the word: traditional
with dignified liturgy, well known hymns and good music. The
choir were in casual clothes and on a raised area to the side
of the altar, on which they moved back and forth (although they
were very well behaved compared to many choirs I have seen!).
They should either wear robes or sit out of sight.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Father Michael was quite an animated preacher: he used
arm movements, he moved from side to side in the pulpit, and
he was good at expressing himself, sometimes getting to the
point where his excitement had him raising his voice.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Angels. His opening question was, "Why do angels ascend
and then descend in the Bible (Genesis 28)?" And why do
we so rarely hear sermons on angels, when they are mentioned
so often in the Bible? The problem with us is that as rational
and intellectual people we find it hard to believe in angels,
but we still want the angels to protect us or find a parking
space for us. We all need to become more like angels, messengers
for God, and be healers, proclaimers, warriors and light bearers.
Which part of the service was like being in
The music was a definite plus, as was the animated sermon. Also
during communion there was the laying on of hands for healing.
This was a simple and powerful ceremony that included anointing
with holy oil. I guess that if I was in heaven I wouldn't be
in need of it, but it was a lovely touch.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The Cheerios! And I hate to say it, but the unrobed choir sitting
in a very visible place. And name badges! When I looked around
during the sharing of the peace, I noticed that 99 per cent
of the congregation had their names attached to their breasts.
That made me feel like an outsider and not a member of the congregation.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Father Michael had given directions in the notices on how to
get to coffee in the hall, but I must have taken a wrong turning,
as I ended up in the sacristy area this church goes on
and on and on! So the "other" Father Michael had to
direct me out of the building, around a cloistered path, and
into another building, which was also immense.
How would you describe the after-service
Excellent coffee. No idea if it was fair trade, but is was filtered
proper coffee. There were also some lovely vegetarian spring
roll type snacks, hot and delicious!
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 If I lived in Vancouver I would come here; it was exactly what I like about being an Anglican.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
The organ prelude a great piece, well improvised, and
I still have the tune going around in my head.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.