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742: Trinity Episcopal, Upperville, Virginia, USA
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Trinity Episcopal, Upperville, Virginia, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Sumtil.
The church: Trinity Episcopal (Meade Parish), Upperville, Virginia, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: The present church, the third on the site, was begun in 1951. The church, parish house, and rectory are the gift of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon to Meade Parish. The architect, H. Page Cross, freely adapted French country church architecture of the 12th and 13th centuries, using a modified cruciform plan with shallow transepts, in native Warrenton sandstone. The church is filled with beautiful wood and stone carvings and the stained glass is modern but firmly rooted in the traditions of the past.
The church: We were at the church for a family wedding, and the congregation was family and friends of the bride and groom – not the parish family.
The neighbourhood: Upperville is a small village in the heart of the "horse and hunt" country of this part of Virginia. Everything in Upperville and the local area bespeaks wealth! Buried in the churchyard are people of international renown – most of them wealthy members of Trinity.
The cast: The Rev'd J. Michael Cadaret, deacon, officiant and preacher; The Rev'd Churchill Gibson, priest, who pronounced the nuptial blessing and the final blessing; and Mr Thomas L. Scheck, organist.
What was the name of the service?
The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage.

How full was the building?
There were about 150 invited guests, which made the building about one-quarter full. The groomsmen seated them towards the front of the nave – a very smart idea!

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The groomsmen and the father of the bride. Warm handshakes, hugs, and kisses when appropriate, made one feel most welcome. A family reunion of sorts of both bride's and groom's families and friends. Introductions all around to those who did not know each other.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not overly comfortable; not uncomfortable – a standard pew. Kneelers were comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People in the pew behind us started whispering during the organ voluntaries. We reminded them that we were there to worship God – not to hear their comments about the family, the music, or the hurricane (Isabel) which had blown through two days before.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Hymnal 1982, the Book of Common Prayer 1979.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ.

Did anything distract you?
The constant undercurrent buzz of talking by the arriving members of the congregation, most of whom were there for the social aspect of the service and not for the "real" reason for being there.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Elegant and comfortable, but neither Anglo-Catholic nor blatantly low-church.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Seven minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – The preacher, not an "occasion preacher," preached without notes. He preached from the chancel steps and turned from time to time to talk to the bridal party, who were sitting in the quire.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Love – especially the love that Saints Peter and Paul had for Jesus, and that how that love should be imitated by a married couple. It was an interesting interpretation of the wedding lessons. One wonders why preachers choose to preach from the chancel steps instead of the pulpit.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Being in this glorious setting, listening to the organ music, which was so well played.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Listening to the criticisms of the people behind us of the music and the constant buzz of the others talking while we were trying to listen to the organ voluntaries. The clergy ought to know how to vest. Cassock-alb and stole are not appropriate for an office – cassock, surplice, scarf and hood are. The deacon chose to ignore the rubric which authorizes the priest to bless the rings. Seminaries just do not teach liturgics and ceremonial!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
It was wonderful to talk with the driver of the Rolls-Royce and members of the family and friends before we went to the reception.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Was not appropriate to this occasion. The reception at the club was, however, wonderful.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 – It is too far from home. It is too low church for us.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Although the organ voluntartaries and other organ music was very well played, the hymn playing was typically unimaginative and pedantic. There was no sense of phrasing and registration to heighten the sense of the texts.
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