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401: Christ Church Cathedral, St Louis, Missouri, USA
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Christ Church Cathedral, St Louis, Missouri, USA
Mystery Worshipper: The Asian Anglican.
The church: Christ Church Cathedral, St Louis, Missouri, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church USA.
The building: A beautiful sacred space in an urban setting. The cathedral has lots of ornate carvings on the outside and inside and a gorgeous stone carving behind the great altar.
The church: Not that I could tell.
The neighbourhood: This was the first church service I have ever been at that had a uniformed security guard standing post at the entrance. So, if that's any indication of the neighborhood... However, driving around before and after the service, it didn't look at all rough.
The cast: Very Rev. Michael P.G.G. Randolph (dean and celebrant), Rev. Canon Susan Nanny (homilist) and a large supporting cast, including a verger, some torchbearers and others dressed in purple cassocks.
What was the name of the service?
10.00am Holy Eucharist, Rite II.

How full was the building?
The building was partly full at around 100 or so. It was Labor Day weekend so I'm sure most of their regular parishioners were out of town.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A greeter was nice enough to welcome us personally and hand us a bulletin and give us a few other informational items about the history of the cathedral. That same greeter also welcomed us after the service to find out where I was from and to see if I enjoyed the service. A couple of others said hello but that was pretty much it.

Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable padded wooden chairs for all!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The pre-service atmosphere was extremely quiet. There wasn't another soul in there until about five to 10 minutes before the service started. From there, there was quite a bit of hustle and bustle of families trying to find a seat.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We are glad that you are here at Christ Church Cathedral."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The good old BCP 1979 and Hymnal 1983. They also provided the entire liturgy in a service handout bulletin with the day's announcements.

What musical instruments were played?
A glorious pipe organ.

Did anything distract you?
Right before communion, there was a tremendously loud buzzing noise that starting coming through the public address speakers. This went on for about 10 minutes or so, and it was incredibly distracting. Dean Randolph explained that the St Louis Police Department's radio system is on the same frequency as the microphones on their sound system, and from time to time both sides experience some interference.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very dignified stiff-upper-lip Episcopalian type worship.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
18 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
3 – The sermon was pretty much read verbatim by the homilist. Canon Nanny was warm and all, but the sermon itself was really unfulfilling. In her defense, given the lectionary readings and it being Labor Day, there was not a whole lot of material to work with!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
To tell you the truth, I couldn't remember the bottom line of the sermon. I was a little bored by it all and instead turned to admiring the lovely nave and studying all the banners and other hangings to keep myself occupied.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The beautiful organ music. The organist is very talented and it just transported me to heaven almost! I nearly wept because I was so overcome with emotion just hearing that beautiful music.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well, it's a toss-up between the loudspeaker troubles and that sermon.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The greeter came back to me and asked if I enjoyed the service. And an elderly lady seemed happy to see someone in their 20s visiting their cathedral. She just came out and asked if I was moving to St Louis. When I told her I was just passing through on vacation, that pretty much ended the conversation!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None that I could find.

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?
Most definitely. The glorious organ music and the beauty of the eucharistic liturgy was enough for me. The acting dean executed the liturgy with precision and dignity. A real pleasure to watch.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The dignified way the liturgy was carried out.
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