Mystery Worshipper: WLDFLR
Church: Christ Church
Location: Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 19 February 2012, 8:00am
A typically quaint Gothic Revival stone cross shaped building set in pleasantly large church grounds. It replaces an earlier building and is the design of the Revd Alberto Dias Soares, born of Portuguese parents residing in England. Soares emigrated to New South Wales in 1852 in search of work in his chosen profession, engineering, but decided instead to enter the ministry. He was ordained a priest in 1857 and was incumbent of Christ Church until 1877. The present church plus rectory, stable and school houses were built to Soares' specifications in 1859-60, and he designed several other churches as well. Christ Church and its ancillary buildings form a picturesque landmark in downtown Queanbeyan.
The parish of Queanbeyan and District is a large one and includes four other churches: St Matthew's, St Paul's, St Thomas Michelago, and Googong, the Celebration Community. They sponsor several small home groups plus Bible study and a bowling club. There are two celebrations of holy communion at Christ Church each Sunday, plus Sunday school.
Queanbeyan is located in southeastern Australia adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory. The church is set in a beautiful leafy area.
The Venerable Ian Palmer, archdeacon and team leader, presided. He was assisted by the Revd Deacon Mary Thorn. There were three servers besides and a visiting minister.
What was the name of the service?Holy Communion.
How full was the building?
There were at least 50 people there of various ages ranging from perhaps mid to late 20s to perhaps 80-ish. The church was, I would say, two-thirds full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A sidesperson welcomed me at the door and handed me a service sheet and a newsletter.
Was your pew comfortable?
As far as standard wooden pews go, it was OK. There were cushions hanging from the pew in front of me, but I am not sure if these were for sitting on or kneeling on, as there were no kneelers. It was comfortable enough.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty and engaging. People were just chatting and welcoming each other.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Let us stand for our opening hymn: 'Lord your almighty Word chaos and darkness heard.'"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books were used. An A4 sheet had the entire service printed out on it. There was a screen used during the talk time.
What musical instruments were played?
An electronic organ was the only instrument used. It had a very nice sound.
Did anything distract you?
I have to say nothing unpleasant distracted me, but the stained glass windows were some of the most beautiful and colourful I have ever seen. They seemed to have been personally donated in remembrance of various members over the years. It would be interesting to know the full history of those beautiful windows.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The service was middle of the road Anglican, with procession into the church of the minister and servers with a gold cross leading the way. It was reverent but you could tell that this is a very evangelical Anglican church. The hymns happened to be among some of my favourites: "Lord your almighty Word", "Fairest Lord Jesus", and "Be thou my vision." The hymns were being sung as worship, not just for the sake of singing a hymn. There were several "hand raisers" here and there.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
It was not a sermon, but rather an interview with a visiting missionary from Seville by the name of Ian Batey. Archdeacon Palmer did the interview and I found it very challenging.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – As said, it wasn't a sermon per se, but it was challenging all the same.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Pretty much about Ian Batey's calling from his youth into the ministry via a nursing degree and finally being called to serve the Lord in Spain. The challenges facing evangelical Christians in a Catholic dominated "Mary focused" country were highlighted with sensitivity and Christian concern for the gospel to be shared with the people of that country. The speaker mentioned that he originally didn't feel he could ever speak in public and that he argued with the Lord about that. He said he was reminded of the Lord calling Moses and the excuses Moses gave before relenting to serve God anyway.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Well, most of it really. It was a warm and worshipful good Anglican service. There was a tiny baby who was just wonderful to watch. She seemed to know where she was and why she was there. She made one shriek of joy just toward the end of the service.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There was an annoying reverberation from the microphones during the ministry of the Word.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There was an invitation to morning tea given by Archdeacon Palmer during the notices. Once I was outside, there were one or two "hellos" and invitations to a coffee, so I duly went to the old school hall for a cuppa.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Instant tea and coffee, home baked scones (from Archdeacon Palmer, I was told), and assorted cakes and biscuits. China cups were used and the place was full of buzz and chatter. Two folks had a recent birthday, so a cake was presented along with a sung "Happy Birthday" to Jim and Jill. The comment was made that it should be to "Jack and Jill" with laughter all around. There was a plate of gluten free muffins, which I thought was very thoughtful.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – As far as wonderfully warm Anglican goes, I would definitely make this particular service my Sunday service. Since I was not able to be around for the 10.00am, I can't compare the two. A flight back to Adelaide was awaiting me at Canberra Airport.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, in a most positive way.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The visiting speaker's story of his calling to Spain. I was deeply touched and challenged.