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106: Trinity, Galveston, Texas
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Trinity, Galveston, Texas
Mystery Worshipper: Lucy Locket.
The church: Trinity, Galveston, Texas.
Denomination: Episcopal Church USA.
The building: In the picture, the church is on the right, with the chapel on the left. The church building was erected in 1857 as this church's third sanctuary. Inside, there is a remarkable set of columns, added after the completion of the building to reassure fearful worshipers that this building would not fall during a hurricane as did the original building of 1842. Trinity is very proud of its "garth", the grassy area between the buildings that most of us would call a close.
The neighbourhood: Galveston is a barrier island that is enjoying a renaissance propelled by tourism and interest in its 19th century buildings. Trinity Church is downtown, near the heart of one of Galveston's main attractions, the Strand, once called the Wall Street of the southwest. Trinity has the Baptist Church as a next-door neighbor and is not far from the First Lutheran Church.
The cast: The Rt Rev Claude E. Payne, Bishop of Texas, was the celebrant. The preacher was Rev Canon Paul D. Fromberg, Senior Canon at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. Four other priests and a deacon took part in the service.
What was the name of the service?
The Celebration of a New Ministry. It was the official induction of Ronald D. Pogue as only the 10th Rector at Trinity since 1841.

How full was the building?
Packed. Before being called by Trinity, Ron was a Canon at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston and it seemed that there were almost as many people from Christ Church as there were from Trinity. In addition, Ron noted, there was a minister or priest from every single congregation in which he had ever been involved, from the time he was a boy until the present. A full contingent of Galveston's ministers, priests and rabbis also were there. Ron was later overheard to ask, jokingly: "Are there any people from Trinity here tonight?"

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a gentleman handing out service booklets at the entrance greeted me and asked where I was from.

Was your pew comfortable?
I was squashed up against a wooden divider by the tall and beefy parishioner to my right, who was straining to see around the church columns and get a good view. My only option was to turn my body to the right and hold my right arm slightly behind my back – not an ideal position for a service that lasted nearly two hours!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty and anticipatory.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Bishop Payne, we have come together today to welcome Ronald Pogue, who has been chosen to serve as Rector of Trinity Church."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Service booklet printed especially for the occasion, and The Hymnal 1982.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ and lovely bell chimes, which are apparently played regularly.

Did anything distract you?
Besides my beefy neighbor and my uncomfortable position? Not much!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very solemn and dignified but with moments of joyful silliness.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10. I have heard Canon Fromberg many times and he is an eloquent and thoughtful preacher who pushes the listener into critical thinking about Christianity. In fact, this was not the best sermon I have ever heard him give, but I would bet that it was one of the best ever heard in Galveston.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Christians are a priestly people called to be a pebble in the shoe of the world, to bear witness to the contradiction between the human and the divine and to God's love and promise that is beyond the understanding of the modern world. The priest's job is that of midwife to the church, assisting laypersons in their God-given task and providing a model and atmosphere in which they can see what God is doing in their lives.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Immediately following the induction (but before the communion), Ron knelt down in the center aisle to proclaim his vows, and then the bishop introduced him as the new rector. When Ron proclaimed, "The peace of the Lord be always with you," the sense of completion and joy in the congregation made me feel very happy and I just grinned like a fool.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Being smashed into a wood pew divider.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It was difficult to look lost because I knew many of the people there. Nevertheless, I was warmly greeted by people I did not know.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee was in sight. It was almost 9.00pm when the reception began and sangria, punch and delicious appetizers, cookies and cakes were offered in the esteemed garth. I drank a lot of sangria. It helped get the circulation going in my arm.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9. The only fault I can find with Trinity is that it is located in Galveston, where I do not live.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely. This was the first time I ever attended the induction of a rector and it was ceremonially very satisfying. I was touched by the serious and yet gleeful conduct of the service. And with priests like Ron around, the church can only get better.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The mob of people around the altar as the communion was being prepared. Although I couldn't see that well, I counted up to 12, including the bishop and the deacon. It was a pretty funny scene, the congregation patiently waiting while numerous priests and laypeople served each other, filling so many cups, some apparently more than once. And, because several of the players were wearing microphones, the pouring and sloshing of all that wine could clearly be heard all over the building. It reminded me of the wedding story, in which the party ran out of wine only after Jesus and his disciples got there, necessitating the making of more wine for everyone else.
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