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72: St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia
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St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne
Mystery Worshipper: Incense Dependent.
The church: St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican.
The building: A 19th century building in 'colonial style' – our terminology – it looks like a church!
The neighbourhood: Located on the edge of Melbourne's commerical and business district, under the shadow of St Patrick's Cathedral (Roman Catholic) and the Eastern Hill Fire Station.
The cast: The celebrant was the Vicar, Rev Dr John Davis. The preacher was an assistant, Fr Philip Gill. The sanctuary party numbered 14.
What was the name of the service?
High Mass.

How full was the building?
Half to two-thirds full, in a church with seating for about 200.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes – the books were handed to us with a friendly "hello, how are you?"

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, as pews go.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and meditative. There was a real sense of awe and anticipation.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
"An Australian Prayer Book" (1978); "The New English Hymnal"; and a very nicely presented pew sheet with an insert listing the readings, hymns, anthem and service music.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ (with a very impressive choir).

Did anything distract you?
There is some stained glass in a side chapel, easily viewed from the side of the church where we were sitting, which is... um... well, I'm sure it would fit in much better in another church!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Reverent Anglo-Catholic. Everything was done 'properly'. There was no need to announce hymns, for example, as the service seemed to flow.

St Peter's, Eastern Hill, Melbourne

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The value of the cross in the everyday context of a Christian's life. We are too clouded with emotion when the cross is studied in Holy Week; reflection on it is good at other times of the year as well.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The section of the service which started with the peace greeting, continued into the offertory – complete with censing – and then into the preface to communion, with smoke billowing, candles burning, all of us facing the same way, looking to God.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The cantor led into the Alleluia verse a tone lower than the organist was playing, and never corrected himself!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People were very friendly and invited us to refreshments in the hall.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee or tea, red or white wine, sherry and nibbles, including hot bread. The highlight of the after-service coffee was the announcement that our preacher (Fr Philip Gill) was getting engaged to Rev Jenny Inglis. This was met with rapturous applause.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9. If we lived in Melbourne, this would be our preferred place of worship.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sense of corporate transcendence. There is a spiritual aura about the place.

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