|108: Grace Church, New York City|
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Mystery Worshipper: Dr Dharma.
The church: Grace Church, New York City.
The building: Grace is a beautiful landmark, with fabulous stained glass windows and lovely landscaping. It was at one time a wealthy "society" congregation. Now it serves the Greenwich Village area.
The neighbourhood: The church is in the midst of Greenwich Village, and just a couple of blocks from the famous Strand Book Store. Be sure to browse there after a service.
The cast: Rev Janet Kroft.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About one fifth full. Grace is a big place, and this was a beautiful summer's day, so I presume some folks were off on trips.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An usher said "good morning" and walked me to a pew.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, but it was one of those pews with a door on the end and a low wood wall partition on all sides. Functional in the old days for keeping warm, but not exactly encouraging fellowship.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal 1982.
What musical instruments were played?
Just the organ. They also have an evening service with contemporary music, featuring guitars, a bass and percussion. I've been to it, and was not really thrilled by the newer hymns.
Did anything distract you?
The heat! This church gets HOT in the warm weather.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Fairly informal. Grace has a somewhat evangelical atmosphere.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
About 20 minutes.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Mostly a reflection on the Gospel, mixed with humour and personal accounts. Kroft is a passionate speaker.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Seeing the beautiful stained glass.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The heat. It was hot as...
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nobody has approached me on several visits I've made there. When I spoke to the "new members" people, they were pretty friendly.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee was pretty good.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
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 importance of sitting next to a fan in a big old church like that.