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1158: Church of the Holy Spirit, Orleans, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
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Church of the Holy Spirit, Orleans, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
Mystery Worshipper: Bishop Eglon the Thin.
The church: Church of the Holy Spirit, Orleans, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
The building: The Church is set in a slight depression at the intersection of Rt 28 and Monument Road, with a large well kept parking lot to the side and rear. The building was erected in 1933 from the remains of an Inn destroyed in a hurricane. The grounds are well landscaped and very attractive. The church itself is a fairly large wood frame, cruciform building. The exterior siding is of wood shingles that have weathered into the ubiquitous gray found on so many homes and other buildings on Cape Cod. Parts of the building have either been re-sided or are new additions, because the shingles have not yet weathered from their original honey colored wood. Once inside, one appreciates the impact of the cruciform architecture with its central altar. The ceiling is fairly low with exposed beams stained a deep brown. It is a beautiful building.
The church: This is a very active parish with a full program of Sunday and midweek services. There are a few interesting and unusual aspects to parish life. The church operates a "Center for Spiritual Life," which offers a range of courses and retreats, including spiritual direction. There is a craft shop offering quality giftware made by the parishoners. The church also has the only free clothing shop on Cape Cod, providing clothing for those who need it.
The neighbourhood: Cape Cod is one of the busiest and most popular vacation destinantions in New England, whose population swells many times over in the summer. In the autumn the rhythm of life slows and the locals come out again. The church is set in a suburban type neighborhood, surrounded by many typical Cape Cod style homes, mostly of the more upscale variety. Upscale would describe most of "the Cape" though.
The cast: Rev. David Angelica, rector and preacher; Rev. Mark Wilkinson, curate and celebrant; plus assorted lectors and musicians.
The date & time: 9th October 2005 at 9.00 am.
What was the name of the service?
The Holy Eucharist, Rite II

How full was the building?
It was mostly full. The building holds about 300, and there were probably between 220 and 250 people present. This was the second of three morning services, which must indicate that the church has a sizeable congregation.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We got lost looking for the church, so arrived late. While walking from the car in the rain, another latecomer remarked, “Soggy morning.” No one else spoke to us.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were comfortable with padded seats.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Because we were late we did not get a chance to find out.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible was in the pew rack, with The Hymnal 1982, The Book of Common Prayer, a very hefty bulletin which ran to 20 pages, a newsletter of four pages and a green insert of two pages. During the announcements, the rector told the congregation, "We don't give announcements, you need to read the bulletin." I suspect that dillegent parishoners would need to forego their Sunday paper to do justice to this tome.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, trumpet and some tinkling bells, which put one in mind of a Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic mass, except that they accompanied some of the singing. The trumpeter was outstanding. She played the Purcell trumpet voluntary at the end, which was great.

Did anything distract you?
There was small model (about 24 inches long and perhaps 18 inches at the main mast) of a tall clipper ship hanging from a rafter nearby, I kept wondering what its significance was. Cape Cod has a maritime history, so it probably had something to do with that.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
There was a certain relaxed formality about the service. Everything was done "decently and in order," like any good episcopal service, without being stiff and starchy.

Church of the Holy Spirit, Orleans, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The preacher, Rev. David Angelica, spoke clearly and had excellent voice modulation and tone. He used humor very effectively to introduce the topic of stewardship.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The topic was "A Celebration of Stewardship". The congregation was being prepared for their financial pledges toward the 2006 budget. The touch of humor that Rev. Angelica used to introduce the topic, even to the point of saying that the ushers had been instructed to "lock the doors at this point", went a long way toward relaxing a congregation who were about to be challenged about their giving for the next financial year. Rev. Angelica pointed out that Christian giving was not a matter of "tipping" God, nor just a means for the church to pay its bills and salaries, but was much more important. Christian giving enables the church to fulfill its mission to its community, the wider church and to the world. It should therefore be generous and ungrudging. He introduced the sermon by recounting a rather complicated legend about the freedom of giving. He also mentioned that at least one-sixth of Jesus’ teaching and a third of his parables had to do with money and possessions, but never gave an example. This lack, and the complicated legend, is a reason why I can't give his sermon an 8. Overall, though, he dealt effectively with a sensitive subject. I am sure the congregation responded generously.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The intercessions, which followed form 3 in The Book of Common Prayer. They were more than just a formality – the form was used a template to shape the prayers and intercessions of the congregation. One sensed that this congregation cares for each other, their community and the world. This care was reflected in the prayers.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The choir sang an anthem about joy and rejoicing to a very mournful tune. I thought that if there is any singing about joy in the nether regions, then this is just the kind of tune that would be used. We also flinched when visitors were asked to stand and identify themselves and their origins. I like friendly churches, but draw the line at introducing myself to a couple of hundred strangers. I would have much preferred a sincere inquiry during the peace.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We tried to do this, but it was difficult as we had to choose between blocking the aisle or standing outside in the rain. We blocked the aisle for as long as we thought polite to do so. No one said a word to us, except one lady who remarked that the rain should have come during August.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
We had to ask someone to direct us to the parish hall for coffee. The hall was large, bright and attractive. The coffee was self- serve using disposable cups; it was hot and quite tasty for church coffee. Lemonade was also available, but was overly sweet. There were several plates of goodies on the table, including slices of a very good pound cake. We were amused to read in the bulletin that visitors would be given blue cups so that parishioners could identify them. There were no blue cups available. Nevertheless, we hung around the table, again trying to look lost, but alas no one spoke to us. Perhaps we should have announced ourselves during the service when given the chance.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – this is a large, active parish. I am sure that if you were successful in breaking into its life, you would feel part of a real Christian community.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
What significance does the model ship hanging from the rafters have, and where were the blue cups for visitors?
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