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|1614: St Stephen's,
Bayswater, Victoria, Australia
Stephen's, Bayswater, Victoria, Australia.
Church of Australia, Archdiocese
The building is about 30 years old and has recently undergone
some renovations inside. The worship space is roughly square,
with the aisle running diagonally across it, and with the sanctuary
in one corner. Entry is from the back of the worship space via
a narthex which joins the church proper to a well-equipped hall.
The buildings are all brightly lit and kept at a comfortable
They worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, with both a said
and sung mass on Sundays and a said mass on Wednesdays and feast
days of saints. They conduct a healing service on the first
Sunday of each month.
Bayswater, a suburb of Melbourne, was founded by German immigrants
in the 1860s and saw another wave of German settlers during
and after World War II – the latter being members of the Tempelgesellschaft,
a Christian sect sympathetic to the Nazis and declared enemy
nationals by the British. Nearby is the Dandenong Ranges National
Park, whose dense rainforest and fern canopy conserves remnants
of the original vegetation that once covered the entire Melbourne
area. The church is not on a main road, but in a residential
area. There is a primary school immediately across the road.
The Revd David Mc Millan, vicar, was the celebrant. John Brown,
vicar's warden, preached.
The date & time:
Sunday, 21 September 2008, 9.30am. It was the parish's annual
Commitment Sunday, hence the talk by the vicar's warden.
What was the name of the service?
Mass (Second Order of Holy Communion).
How full was the building?
About half full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The steward said hello and handed me a service book, several
pieces of paper, and a pen.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was comfortable despite being wooden with no cushion.
Nor were there any rails for kneeling, but the floor was carpeted
and the pew in front was a good height for resting my elbows
on while I knelt and prayed.
How would you describe the pre-service
There was some setting up being done in the sanctuary, and the
vicar's warden had a few things to organise. Despite this, there
seemed to be an attempt at keeping it peaceful.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Hello and welcome."
What books did the congregation use during the
A slim volume containing only the part of the Prayer Book required
for the eucharist. Words of songs were displayed on a screen
via a projector mounted in the ceiling. That was done tastefully
What musical instruments were played?
Electronic organ. About eight people formed a choir who led
the singing of the psalm and who sang during communion.
Did anything distract you?
The bright yellow, ill-fitting robes worn by the choir. While
it seems appropriate in an Anglo-Catholic parish to have the
choir wearing robes, it would have been more dignified if they
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The service was comfortably Anglo-Catholic, following the Prayer
Book. The hymns were traditional. The saying of the Alleluia
before the gospel reading and the singing of some Alleluia song
after it was a bit pretentious and seemed out of place in September
(i.e. not Eastertide). A bell was rung in the sanctuary during
the great thanksgiving, indicating that they see themselves
as more than moderately Catholic.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 The vicar's warden spoke well enough for a layman,
but his presentation was purely about the financial state of
the parish, with almost no theology or reference to the readings.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
He spoke about the financial assets of the parish, and challenged
the people not to see themselves as a poor parish. They were
asked to imagine how well-off the parish would be if everyone
on the roll attended every Sunday, and if they all tithed. He
outlined some upcoming projects, and encouraged people to give
as much as they felt God enabled them, reminding them that all
things have been created by God, and that we should "give to
God what is God's."
Which part of the service was like being in
The atmosphere during the eucharist. It was dignified, meditative,
and quietly joyful. The choir sang "Seek ye first" (with harmonies),
and it added to the beauty and prayerfulness of the sacrament.
I really felt a sense of the presence of the Spirit and a sense
of community within the congregation during the eucharist.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Toward the end of his talk, the vicar's warden singled out a
member of the congregation by name, and asked if she were sleeping!
It was most embarrassing. The congregation sang the Lord's Prayer,
which I found quite exclusive. This is one aspect of the service
that should unite all Christians, but I was unable to join in
as I did not know the tune.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A member of the vestry came and spoke to me immediately after
the service. I was invited to join them for a cuppa, during
which time the vicar and two members of the congregation spoke
to me. They asked which parish I come from, how many people
attend there, and my role within my own parish.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Tea and instant coffee in cups and saucers were available at
the servery window in the kitchen. Chocolate biscuits and apple
tea cake were set out on a table for everyone to enjoy.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 My reservations about making this my regular church
would be the lack of children in the service, though it must
be noted that it is school holidays. In addition to this, the
service felt somewhat inward-focussed. The singing of various
parts of the service, in addition to the sung eucharistic setting,
was a bit alienating, and I don't think the congregation even
realised that this was the case. That aspect of it was very
in-house. Having said that, the service followed the Prayer
Book, the hymns were traditional, and, overall, it was user-friendly.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. I enjoyed singing hymns that were well-known and well-sung, and taking part in a service of common worship that united me with the saints across time and space. The atmosphere was reverential and sure.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The singing during communion – it really was very well done,
and created a beautiful atmosphere in which to receive the sacrament.
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