|565: Christ Church, Plano, Texas|
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Mystery Worshipper: Reidyaus.
The church: Christ Church, Plano, Texas.
The building: Like everything in Dallas, it's big. Very white, almost angelic. The church is in a cross shape, but with more rounded edges than a traditional cathedral. There's a very large sanctuary area, with a closed off prayer chapel behind it. Huge steeple as well.
The church: Unusually for an Episcopal church, they used to meet in a school hall until a few years ago.
The neighbourhood: The neighbourhood is an interesting mix of rural wheat fields, technology park and suburbia.
The cast: Rector: Rev. David H Roseberry. Curate: Rev. Curt Norman. Preacher: Bishop Suffragan Rt Rev. Bruce MacPherson.
What was the name of the service?
Communion: Sixth Weekend of Easter
How full was the building?
About half to two thirds full, which is pretty impressive for a building with 1100 capacity.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
One of the greeters just about dislocated my shoulder with a handshake at the door, which at least showed enthusiasm! When I wandered over to the Welcome Center, they took an interest in me, told me about the church, and so on.
Was your pew comfortable?
Unbelievably comfortable. Padded seating, and even the kneelers were comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was fairly quiet, with some music practice going on up front.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to our service this morning at Christ Church. Would you please stand for our processional hymn, 'O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing'."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The service was on a very professionally produced pamphlet, but was an extract from the Book of Common Prayer (1982). The NIV was used for Bible readings. Hymns were on the pamphlet as well.
What musical instruments were played?
Grand piano, with the world's next Roger Woodward playing, drums, a string section and a saxophone and clarinet, I think. The grand piano lid blocked off most of the other musicians. Three singers added their voices to the fray. The acoustics were unbelievable it felt like you could hear every single person in the church singing.
Did anything distract you?
The speakers were big and plentiful enough for a small football stadium. Also, there were permanent video cameras up the front, which I found out afterwards was for telecasting to the lobby for parents with babies. I felt like it was God making sure you didn't pick your nose or fall asleep.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was an interesting mix of traditional and evangelical. The clergy and servers were all robed, there was plenty of crossing themselves going on, yet the message and rest of the service were very focussed on God's word and its proclamation.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 His title was Bishop Suffragan, which means assistant Bishop. I kept thinking of the Suffragettes and was expecting a message about women's right to vote.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The passage was the Vine and the Branches from John 15. He looked at how does Jesus dwell in us, and how do people see Jesus in us. He finished strongly with a message about being God's hands, in order to do his will.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
A lady shared a wonderful story about the kids in her Sunday School class who had written prayers, attached them to a balloon and released them. She heard later from a friend that he had been playing golf with another guy, whose son had just committed suicide and really doubted God cared for him anymore. During the round, he discovered one of these balloons and the prayers attached with it, and knew it was God's sign to him that God still loved him and cared for him.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The appeal for money for the new building project. I'm going through one of these at my home church, so to cop it at the church I was visiting was a bit too much.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I looked lost for a couple of minutes. There was no morning tea or anything, so most people left soon after. Eventually, someone came up to me and asked if I was visiting and we had a pleasant chat. I went over to the guy I met at the Welcome Center before the service, and he gave me a welcome pack, including a CD with information, music and sermons from the church.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Non-existent. The main meals are huge servings here, so maybe they don't need snacks?
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 The traditional elements might be a bit distracting to me, but there is a real genuine faith and commitment to Jesus there, which overcomes a multitude of distractions.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, there was a real feeling of being brothers and sisters in Christ, despite the US/Australian differences.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
On the drive home, there was a Methodist church down the road, which had police directing traffic and satellite car parks with shuttle buses!! I don't know if it was a special service or a regular event...