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905: St Luke's, Mosman, Sydney, Australia
Other reports | Comment on this report
St Luke's, Mosman, Sydney, Australia
Mystery Worshipper: Mr Cantata.
The church: St Luke's, Mosman, Sydney, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican.
The building: A blonde brick 1950s building in non-descript external architectural style. It features a rather impressive tower, surmounted by a cross, which is illuminated by the exterior parish signs.
The church: This church seems to me to be a hub for young Anglo-catholic families. There is definitely a family feel within the church, and some children run free and wild through the aisles.
The neighbourhood: To the immediate east of the parish bounds is the parish of St Clements. To the west is the Anglo-catholic centre of northern Sydney – St Peters.
The cast: Rev. Lynden Salzburger, and the preacher, Mr Benjamin Edwards.
What was the name of the service?
5pm Meeting.

How full was the building?
The church was reasonably well attended on a cold Sunday afternoon. A visiting choir from the United Kingdom, and some well placed advertising in the local papers, ensured that there were few vacant pews.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Some members of the English National Children's Choir were on hand and presented me with a service booklet, choir information book, and a tour booklet. The greeting was certainly very warm on such a cold Sydney afternoon.

Was your pew comfortable?
I am not used to attending a church where the pews are not bolted to the floor. So there was a disproprtionate distance between pews. I chose a pew with a narrow spacing. Needless to say, by the end of the service the people sitting behind probably felt like they were in a torture chamber where the walls, or in this case the pews, close in on you. The seat creaked and groaned all the way through the service.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Procession rehearsals, choir rehearsals, servers rehearsals, sound checks, children running free and wild. So much colour and movement I have not seen in a church for many years. As I quietly commenced my evening devotions, I was disturbed by the excitement of choir hosts, who were eager for the show to get on the road.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We're running short of service sheets, so can everyone share?"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A nicely printed service sheet was used for this meeting. It was very easy to follow and the service itself was very nicely designed. It felt like a cross between evening prayer and mattins – but I think it would be better identified as a meeting of celebration.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ, visiting choir and church childrens choir.

Did anything distract you?
There appeared to be a server in charge of communications at this service. Every time I looked up there was a dash made by a fast running server who darted from left to right, from minister to preacher, from preacher to congregation, from congregation to choir, from choir to who knows where. It was certainly very distracting, as the congregation sitting around me was commenting more on what was going on with the server rather than the service itself.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Family concert springs to mind as the worship style. I believe that the morning services are quite the occasion, however, I made allowances for the fact that the parish was probably very excited, some may say a little too excited, to have such an impressive children's choir visiting. I have never been to a service before where every anthem is applauded, although I must embrace these new diocesean innovations taking place in Sydney.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – it was nice to see a bit of spunk in the preaching style by this trainee minister. I would say with a few years and some solid experience under his belt, and perhaps a visit to Toastmasters, that the preacher might become one of the leading lights in Anglicanism.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Music – inspired by God, embraced by the people, rejected by some and loved by others. It was appropriate for the occasion, but some of the aside jokes were more appealing to the children's choir than the congregation.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The pre-service prelude on the organ – the church was hushed for a few moments and I had a brief chance to say my prayers and to listen to the empathetic playing of the visiting organist.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Ugh... clapping during the meeting, sick children coughing and spluttering, kiddies running wild up and down the aisle, and an organ that would be better placed in the middle of the main road for the buses to run over.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A kind invitation was extended to attend supper at the conclusion.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Anglican meeting style: plastic cups with instant coffee. It's not that hard to have plunger coffee, is it?

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – maybe if the parish invested in a few kiddie harnesses, or a glassed-in creche. Family meetings are not my idea of a good time, so I will reserve judgment, as I hear that other meetings may be to my liking.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, absolutely. Especially the warm welcome.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
We seek her here, we seek her there... where is that darting server going next?
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