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208: Lake View Presbyterian Church, Chicago
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Lake View Presbyterian Church, Chicago
Mystery Worshipper: Shy Town.
The church: Lake View Presbyterian Church, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA).
The building: Smallish church, white-shingled exterior. The interior was recently remodeled with blue walls, blond floors, curving pews.
The neighbourhood: Very heterogeneous neighborhood with near-poor, middle-class and near-rich living in close proximity to each other.
The cast: Rev. Joy Douglas Strome.
What was the name of the service?
The Service for the Lord's Day, 11.00am.

How full was the building?
About half full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A greeter said hello, asked if this was my first visit, shook my hand, and asked me to sign the guest book.

Was your pew comfortable?
The curvature of the pew gave it the illusion of added comfort.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Familiar and comfortable, but rather hushed.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Presbyterian Hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A trifle ooey-gooey, especially for a Presbyterian church. The middle hymn was "Guide me, O thou great Jehovah," yet we sang this tub-thumper more andante than allegro. During the "prayers of the people," individual prayer petitions were to be called out while the rest of the congregation sang a Taize melody over and over. (I sensed some reluctance on the congregation's part to do this.)

Exactly how long was the sermon?
16 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
How Psalm 22 forms a complete cycle of despair, redemption and renewal.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The choir, though small, sang a close-harmony piece beautifully.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The lector managed to pronounce "Sarai" the same as "Sarah," rendering God's name change (in Genesis 17) irrelevant. I wanted to take her outside and whomp her with a broom.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone tactfully ascertained I was a visitor, introduced himself to me, and made sure I met the pastor.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Standard coffee in styrofoam.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8. The place had a genuinely friendly feel. It's nice to encounter a Presbyterian church without an irritatingly smug ethos, as have others I've visited in our area.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How radiant the newly refurbished sanctuary looks.
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