|353: Karrinyup Anglican Church, Karrinyup, Perth, Western Australia|
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Mystery Worshipper: The Happy Coot.
The church: Karrinyup Anglican Church, Karrinyup, Perth, Western Australia.
The building: Functional, purpose-built, with a high pitched roof and a comforting feel attractive, considering its unadorned style. Inside, what would translate as the sanctuary area in a traditional building, does convey a sense of church. On the south wall to the left of the Lord's Table is what looks like a wooden aumbry carved with a Greek cross. Above it is a small globe which, daringly for an evangelical church, is always lighted. Above the altar is a modern stained glass window which manages to tastefully incorporate kookaburras, kangaroo paws and gum leaves with a central, iconic-style cross and a dove representing the Holy Spirit. The evening I visited there were lovely arrangements of flowers on the credence table under the aumbry, and in front and behind the altar.
The church: This community stands out from other boring homogenous evangelical churches which consist of white yuppies, university students and comfortable professional persons. In contrast, Karrinyup's healthiest and most refreshing characteristic is a congregation of ages ranging from toddlers to octogenarians, all of whom are cherished and equally part of the community. Diversity of ethnic background is also refreshing.
The neighbourhood: The church is opposite a huge and very upmarket shopping centre (convenient for parking), and the suburb of Karrinyup is a comfortable one, within 10 minutes drive to the beach.
The cast: Visiting evangelist: Pastor Danny Nalliah of the Assembly of God (Australia). Rector: the Rev. Derek Chamberlain. Assistant pastor: Terry Amos. The church worship team was led by Pauline Harrison.
What was the name of the service?
Full Gospel Praise and Worship in Holy Spirit Power this was a special Saturday night meeting at 7.00pm.
How full was the building?
The building was only half full, which was disappointing perhaps 70 people. A youth service the previous night with evangelist and prophet Russell Sage may have had something to do with it, too.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived in darkness at 6.50pm. The rector and his assistant pastor were fixing the porch light. Pastor Terry greeted me cheerfully and explained the predicament. Once inside I took my seat and two friendly ladies independently came and welcomed me. The greeting was warm, friendly and not overbearing.
Was your pew comfortable?
Seating was of the molded orange and green plastic clip-together bucket variety. Perfectly serviceable and must have been comfortable as I sat on one for over three hours without complaint.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
At 6.50pm there were about a dozen people buzzing around doing housekeeping things. I was a little worried by the middle-aged lady kneeling in the right side aisle engaged in mosque-style bowing. At 7.00pm there were about 35 people happily chatting or busily working in and around the church, and I saw the worship team preparing themselves with prayer and a group hug in the creche. People kept trickling in until 7.15pm.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
Before the service started we sang a warm-up song: Your Love is Beautiful. At the end of it, the worship leader announced: "We only learnt that today. Thought we'd warm up. We had an awesome prayer time and we were anointed. I know we're going to have an awesome time."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Congregation members had their Bibles. All song lyrics were projected onto the front screen with an expensive-looking, computer-controlled setup residing at the mixing desk, via a projector in the ceiling.
What musical instruments were played?
Flute, amplified acoustic guitar, bass, drums.
Did anything distract you?
When we sang Your name is Holy‚ I could hear the baritone voice of the gentleman behind me and the rich tenor voice of Pastor Derek singing freely over the lyrics. I found myself thinking how nice they would sound in a Byzantine choir.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was exuberant but perhaps not as unrestrained as usual. There were a couple of flags being waved, some gold streamers being brandished rhythmically, gentle dancing in the aisles, jumping up and down as the situation demanded, clapping, and hands outstretched to the Lord.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
1 hour and 13 minutes.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 The preacher made sensible and godly points but his delivery was too loose for my liking. To get an idea of Pastor Danny (whose background is Sri Lankan), imagine the energy and antics of a Red Setter combined with the alertness, intelligence and compact shape of a Jack Russell. His invitation to join in "the Jesus Shout" put me on orange alert, but after the yelling, crashing of cymbals and chanting of our Lord's name subsided, things went back to green. I didn't flee the room, so I'd say I'm clear of demonic possession.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Pastor Danny gave his testimony, including examples of miraculous healings that he had witnessed. I drew together this collection of points: Revival will not come until people are ready to pay the price, which is on one's knees in prayer. When the Glory of God comes into the house, people will be drawn into the house. One should be willing to lay down the closest thing to one's heart for Jesus to be glorified.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
It's always heavenly to be in a loving, functional church where people of all ages, able-bodied and disabled, and from diverse cultures cherish each other and seek to serve God.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There was a polish or paint smell that abated as the evening progressed. I wondered if this was because we had by then inhaled and absorbed all the carcinogens.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There were smiles from other members of the congregation when I made eye-contact. A cheery lady introduced herself and when I mentioned that on a previous visit the sermon had been too loud, she grinned and said "We like things loud here!" Another lady came and welcomed me and another visitor and made sure we had cups of coffee.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Quite satisfying Nescafé Blend 43 with Hilo milk in a ceramic mug.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 If I were not happy with my own eccentric Vicar of Dibley, wannabe-Anglocatholic home, and in the absence of a tat-laden High Anglican Church, I would seriously consider making Karrinyup my regular. Especially so as I know they have a Second Order of Communion Prayerbook service at 8.30am and Third Order Communion based contemporary worship at 9.30pm. It's a fine thing to be able to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, both reverently and in exultation.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Indeed. And proud to be part of the same communion as Karrinyup Anglican Church. At the close, Pastor Derek quoted from "Veni Creator, Come Holy Ghost", which I think encapsulates why I regard this church fondly. It's an eclectic (rather than anarchic) inheritor of the Reformation.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
While praying over the people, Pastor Danny requested the worship team to play Amazing Grace. The sound of a lone flute in the previously tumultuous space was quite surreal.