|283: All Souls, Berkeley, California|
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Mystery Worshipper: St Redevivus.
The church: All Souls, Spruce & Oxford Streets, Berkeley, California.
Denomination: Episcopal Church, USA.
The building: All Souls is an attractive building in an attractive setting in a residential neighborhood of Berkeley. There are beautiful copper doors opening into a spacious narthex. There is a well-kept courtyard between hall and church (also connected by an interior hallway in case of rain). The interior of the church itself is unremarkable, but there was a beautifully-wrought banner hanging near the altar.
The neighbourhood: All Souls is a few blocks away from busy Shattuck Avenue, where a few street people walk and beg. One of them was attending All Souls that day.
The cast: Rev. Andrew Walmisley, Rector, served as Deacon of the Eucharist, vested in dalmatic (with stole worn priest-wise under it) and preacher. Rev. Patricia Walker-Sprague, one of many Priest Associates at All Souls, was principal celebrant/presider. They were assisted by lay people who read the lessons and the intercessions. A lay woman, the director of youth ministries in the parish, gave the children's homily and was also sent forth as a Lay Eucharistic Visitor at the end of the liturgy.
What was the name of the service?
Candlemas Procession and Holy Eucharist: Rite II.
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, when I entered the narthex, an attractive middle-aged lady noticed me and apologized for not attending me sooner. "I wanted to oogle this new baby", she said, referring to a baby being held by a mother nearby. I was also spoken to during the Peace by those around me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, comfortable for a wooden one, fitting the contours of my middle-aged back very well.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
In the parish ahll, there was merry chaos, as children, teachers, choir and clergy were scurrying around to prepare for the Candlemas liturgy and procession. I had noticed, before walking to the hall, that there were some older people waiting in the church quietly. There was also an organ prelude listed in the bulletin, but I didn't hear anything at 9.55am when I arrived.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Light and Peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The bulletin/booklet, 1979 Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal 1982.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, piano and guitar. There was also a trumpet which played the tune to "How bright appears the morning star", which we sang in procession to the church.
Did anything distract you?
Nothing, really, except some audible noise from behind the choir pews during the sermon. Also, the length of the service (nearly two hours) while not distracting to this reviewer, who actually likes going to church, was lengthier than "church growth" experts advise.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was reverent, without being stuffy. The children made it "real" in my eyes and it was a joy to worship with them, as well as with the wide age-group represented in that congregation. It was good, solid, Prayer Book, Rite 2 worship, with hearty singing, lots of responses, and applause and laughter at appropriate points in the service.