Our Saviour, Colorado Springs (Exterior)

Chapel of Our Saviour, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Chapel of Our Saviour
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 17 May 2015, 10:30am

The building

The chapel was originally the carriage house of a lavish family estate dating from the 1920s, which was acquired by the Diocese of Colorado in the mid 1950s. The extensive grounds feature natural landscapes, gardens, and beautiful views of the mountains. Inside, the eye is drawn to the spectacular east window of clear etched glass. Even though the chapel has been beautifully – and simply – remodeled, it's easy to imagine carriages (horseless or otherwise) parked in the long, narrow interior.

The church

They sponsor a chapter of Daughters of the King and the Community of Hope, an organization of lay volunteer caregivers, plus other local, national and international organizations. They host the annual Feast of St Arnold, billed as (quoting from their website) "showcasing the best of Colorado’s craft brewers, winemakers, and emerging distilleries." Arnold, an 11th century Benedictine monk, promoted beer as a more healthful drink than the polluted water in the area around his monastery; he is venerated as the patron saint of hops-pickers. The church celebrates holy communion four times each Sunday: an early morning Rite I service, two Rite II services, and an informal evening service.

The neighborhood

Colorado Springs is located in west-central Colorado about 60 miles south of Denver. The city is home to the United States Air Force Academy as well as two Air Force bases and one Army base. As might be expected, Colorado Springs' economy is driven primarily by the military and the defense industry. The posh Broadmoor neighborhood lies in the southwest section of the city. The chapel is only five or so blocks from the exclusive Broadmoor Hotel and Resort, the architecture and grounds of which rival the grand hotels of the Mediterranean coast.

The cast

The Revd De Freeman, rector, officiated. The Revd Deacon Bethany Myers preached the sermon.

What was the name of the service?

Holy Communion II with Children's Sermon.

How full was the building?

Mostly full, but most pews still had room.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Deacon Bethany Myers shook my hand at the front door. I was impressed by how welcoming everyone was. People I met before the service remembered my name afterward; others made eye contact and smiled.

Was your pew comfortable?

Yes, with a deep red cushion.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Very informal, with people chatting in the pews and the choir practicing in the loft above.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good morning. Our service continues on page 4 of our service bulletin."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Primarily a 14-page booklet that contained all the prayers, responses, readings, and hymns of the service.

What musical instruments were played?

The organ, opus 1727 of the Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio. During the anthem, a piano and flute joined in.

Did anything distract you?

The fairly constant stream of latecomers was distracting, but I guess that's the price you pay for sitting in the back.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

I'd call it standard Episcopalian. The usual ritual, but thoughtfully done and with joyful seriousness. Smiles and laughter at jokes during the sermon and at funny baby sounds.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

11 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 – The deacon read her sermon from printed pages, which created a slightly formal delivery. I'd like to see her in a few years, when perhaps she'll be comfortable enough to preach without notes.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

What to do now that Jesus is gone. The apostles turned their gaze from Jesus ascending and returned to Jerusalem to begin their mission. Like them, we have been given all we need to do Jesus' mission. We are Christ's body now.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Gazing through the floor-to-ceiling etched glass window behind the altar to the pine trees behind the church.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

Frankly, the communion wine. A little girl ahead of me made a face after she drank from the chalice. It wasn't her not liking the taste of wine. It was medicinal sherry or port. Icky! I think I made a face too!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

The folks who had greeted me when I arrived struck up conversations. I was impressed.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

During the summer season, refreshments are served in a patio with umbrella-shaded tables between the parish hall (the former family mansion) and the gatehouse (now the home of the youth and young adult minister). Lovely. There were pastries and a veggie tray – all store bought, but fresh.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – A pamphlet for visitors lists several ministries that seem up my alley, and indicate the parish's commitment to outreach, pastoral care, fellowship, faith formation and music.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Oh, yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

That this community celebrates the Feast of St Arnold, with proceeds donated to charity.

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