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366: Resurrection Lutheran, Chicago, USA
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Resurrection Lutheran, Chicago, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Shy Town.
The church: Resurrection Lutheran, Chicago, USA.
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
The building: A few Gothic touches in the front window treatment, but the church isn't a revival. It's a handsome, vernacular American red-brick church, probably built between 1880 and 1910.
The church: The church makes a special effort to reach out to the gay and lesbian community. That in itself is not unusual, but it is rather progressive for a smallish "family church."
The neighbourhood: Blue-collar neighborhood just north and west of an area that has gone from blue-collar to yuppie over the past 20 years.
The cast: Rev. Dr Roger A. Nelson, Interim Pastor, Presiding and Preaching.
What was the name of the service?
8.30am Holy Communion.

How full was the building?
Around 20 people. According to church information this is typical, and the 10.00am service gets around 75. If necessary, the building could hold 150.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was late and let myself in.

Was your pew comfortable?
Typical pew.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Sorry, can't say. Had a whiny brat directly behind me, though.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Lutheran Book of Worship and With One Voice – standard hymnals for this denomination. The Bible was the NRSV.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano and organ, played quite well.

Did anything distract you?
During the epistle reading, a woman of 85 years or so collapsed. One woman wanted to put a cold compress on her head (the day was not extremely hot but it was terribly humid); another, who seemed to know a little about the woman's history, called the emergency services. Both got their way, as the lady's forehead was swathed in wet tea-towels when the emergency medical techs showed up. This easily outranks a whiny child for sheer memorability, I think.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Casual dress, people knew each other. There were several new adult confirmands who apparently had gone through a confirmation class together, as they related quite casually to each other. The worship mode itself was quite "down home" for an ELCA church. Hymns sung included "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing." This is a far cry from other local ELCA churches I've visited, which usually rely on the 17th century's greatest hits.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Twelve minutes, not counting a two-minute interruption when the emergency medical techs came to get the infirm old woman.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Technically, he's due a "6" but I raised him a point for carrying on after the ambulance arrived and took the old woman out on a bright orange stretcher.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
As a Christian's prayer life grows, his/her petitions go from Give Me to Make Me to Help Me to Show Me. The sermon was read from a written text.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I like the old hymns.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I've brought up any disagreeable or unfortunate elements already.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. But to be fair, most people were discussing the medical emergency.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none, as this was the early service.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – I'd consider it much more strongly if a) I were a Lutheran, and b) there was somewhere to park.

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 bright orange stretcher from the ambulance.
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