|560: St Andrew's Cathedral, Jackson, Mississippi|
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Mystery Worshipper: Sumtil.
The church: St Andrew's Cathedral, Jackson, Mississippi.
The building: An early 20th century gothic building with dark wood rising in columns to the roof, and in carven panelling surrounding the choir, sanctuary and nave. Most interesting are the modern carved wood stations of the cross. The first 12 are in the nave and the last two are in the chapel adjacent to the cathedral.
The church: The emphasis appears to be on community, with members having to live in the surrounding area. There were many young families with children and all age groups were well represented.
The neighbourhood: The cathedral is in a downtown area and is directly across the street from the beautiful governor's mansion. Otherwise the immediate neighborhood is almost completely commercial with two hotels.
The cast: The celebrant was not named. The Very Reverend Joseph O. Robinson, Dean, was the preacher.
What was the name of the service?
Holy eucharist rite II.
How full was the building?
Very full. By 10.00am there were few seats remaining.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived early, helped myself to the service bulletin and looked around. Two ushers arrived at about 9.45am but seemed more interested in putting on their lapel-flower than in being welcoming. All I received was a perfunctory "good morning", and a handshake. During the peace I was greeted by all those surrounding me.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was comfortable. The kneelers were hinged.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was quiet; there was an instruction in the service bulletin requesting silence before the liturgy.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
" Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Book of Common Prayer (1979) and The Hymnal (1982).
What musical instruments were played?
There was an organ, a piano, a violin, a trombone and a guitar.
Did anything distract you?
During the Eucharist one wailing infant was removed by its mother. I was not prepared for the roar of conversation that erupted from the congregation following the dismissal. This made it almost impossible to hear the organ voluntary (Bach's Toccata and Fugue), even when sitting in the choir. Spare a thought for the poor organist all that practicing for naught.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Comfortable. A good blend of "proper Anglicanism" with a dash of 20th century informality that made it easy and comfortable to worship. It was definitely not happy-clappy.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The dean was very well prepared. He read from a prepared text but was humourous and seemed aware of the reactions of his congregation. He obviously enjoys preaching and he communicates this enjoyment well.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Get saved, get tools, get to work." He compared the story of Abraham and Sarah from the Old Testament lesson to Jesus sending forth the disciples. Christianity is about ministry and doing the work of the Lord.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The genuine enthusiasm with which the congregation participated in the liturgy. They really enjoy singing; even the unaccompanied gradual psalm was sung heartily.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
A vacation Bible school had been held during the week, and the choir from the school sang. It left much to be desired.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I stood around looking completely lost. No one offered an invitation to coffee hour.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee, iced tea, and punch were available along with some goodies. The only thing memorable was my being totally ignored.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 Since the members of the congregation seemed so friendly to each other, I assume that as a regular worshipper I would become part of the family.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Two things really the enthusiastic participation of the congregation and that awful roar after the dismissal.