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60: All Saints, Peterborough, New Hampshire
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All Saints, Peterborough
Mystery Worshipper: Anima.
The church: All Saints, Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA.
Denomination: Episcopalian.
The building: Old stone, traditional Gothic. Beautifully vaulted, with a very narrow nave, necessitating a single file up to eucharist.
The neighbourhood: Quaint, Old New England residential, on a main road heading out of town. The town, incidentally, was recently voted 'snootiest in New Hampshire' by a local magazine.
The cast: Rev Lewis S. Stone.
What was the name of the service?
Easter Sunday Holy Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Bulging at the seams – we were crammed into a side chapel.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
When we sat down, we realized we were next to acquaintances who greeted us warmly.

Was your pew comfortable?
Wooden folding chairs. I was reasonably comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Subdued conversation. There was opening music which drowned most of it out.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Blessed be God, Father Son and Holy Spirit' (American Episcopal Rite II).

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Printed bulletin with words to the hymns and some of the prayers. All was from the hymnal and the Book of Common Prayer.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ.

Did anything distract you?
A few wailing babies and squirming children – nothing too distracting. One little boy said, 'Bah, bah, bah', right in time to the prayers.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very formal, traditional church. Reminded me of my childhood!

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – simple message, but the preacher had a narrow range, frequently used, of distracting gestures and facial expressions. I got the impression that he practised in front of a mirror.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
That there were three stages of coming to Easter for Paul and John, and for us as well: daring to hope it's true; studying the evidence; beginning to understand what Jesus was all about.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The beautiful music. The choir, though small, was excellent.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The soprano solo at the prelude, who screeched.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone was in a big hurry to leave for their Easter dinners. However, I was greeted within 5 minutes of standing around looking lost. A very friendly woman made a point of introducing herself and telling us a bit about the church.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was very decent coffee and cookies.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – a little too stuffy for me.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
The service didn't make me glad to be a Christian so much as to satisfy my nostalgia for my youth as an Episcopalian.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The beauty of the building and the robust singing of the congregation.
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