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|1649: St Peter's,
Tallahassee, Florida, USA
Tallahassee, Florida, USA.
of Uganda, American Convocation.
St Peter's at this time is worshiping in rented quarters
which have served as the "nursery" for a number of mainline
churches which have organized in the city. Originally built
as a Church of Christ, it is an attractive brick structure
in the Tudor style. The building and the grounds appear to
be well kept up, and the church maintains its offices in a
dwelling house next door which, in all likelihood, was the
original parsonage. The interior has a nice finish, with simple
stained glass windows and Gothic tracery. The ceiling is somewhat
vaulted. The pulpit/choir area apparently has been modified
to accommodate a free-standing altar, beautifully appointed
with golden pieces and a frontal appropriate to the liturgical
season. Behind the altar is a choir screen, with choir and
instrumentalists located behind it. Kneelers (see more later)
have been fashioned but it is a tight fit because the pews
are a bit close to one another. The parish has acquired a
large tract of land in the north of the city that was part
of an historic plantation. Buildings on the land are still
usable, and St Peter's conducts a variety of activities from
these. Architects have been engaged to erect a new Gothic
style church and ancillary buildings on the site.
St Peter's was formed on October 9, 2005, when a group from
St John's Episcopal Church, Tallahassee, chose to separate
from the Episcopal Church in the USA because of doctrinal
differences and what they saw as ECUSA's deeply compromised
witness to the gospel. St Peter's is a member of the worldwide
Anglican Communion, one of over 50 churches under the authority
of Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi and Bishop John Guernsey
of the American Convocation of the Church of Uganda. St Peter's
holds two traditional and one contemporary service each Sunday,
with a healing mass each Wednesday. They conduct numerous
ministries all listed on their website. Noteworthy are a lay
mission to eight churches in Cuba, and support of Father Flanagan
Boys Town North Florida, affiliated with the legendary Boys
Town, Nebraska, for over 90 a years a leader in the treatment
and care of abused, abandoned and neglected children.
Tallahassee, Florida's capital, was founded on a site occupied
in the winter of 1528-29 by the Spanish conquistador Hernando
de Soto. De Soto's encampment is thought to have been the
first place on the North American continent where Christmas
was celebrated. Tallahassee's economy has always centered
around the state government and institutions of higher learning
situated there, and so the city is rather better off than
many older American cities its size. It is home to Florida
State University, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Community
College, and branches of Barry University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
University, and Flagler College. Nowadays they are calling
the part of Tallahassee in which St Peter's is located "Midtown":
it is a few blocks north of the Capitol and the Hermitage/Governor's
Residence. Nearby is the Grove, the antebellum home of Florida's
first elected governor.
The Revd Eric Dudley, rector, was the celebrant. He was assisted
by the Revd John Wallace, associate rector, in the role of
gospeller, and by the Revd Deacon Andrew W. Rowell, who preached.
The date & time:
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 26, 2008, 9.00am.
What was the name of
The Holy Eucharist, Rite II.
How full was the building?
Completely packed. The church is small, seating perhaps 300
people. Every seat was taken. There were many well-dressed
young marrieds with children ranging from newborn to high
school age, as well as college students.
Did anyone welcome you
Yes. A gentleman whom I recognized from newspapers and public
appearances as a justice of the Supreme Court of Florida smiled
broadly and handed me a service leaflet – one of the
most complete I have ever seen.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were comfortable; the kneelers were not! The kneelers
are an addition from the last use of the church and are little
more than padded benches for the knees. The pews are very
close together as one would expect of a Protestant church.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Very reverent. An electronic carillon played quietly.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal
published by Church Publishing Incorporated, the supplier
What musical instruments
Piano and a good electronic organ, played at separate times
as appropriate. The music was excellent, the organist accomplished,
the singers talented, the celebrant on pitch!
Did anything distract
The little boy sitting next to me was a bit active (this was
a family service).
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
For north Florida you might call it high church, but only
because it was a choral eucharist sung throughout. There was
no incense; the leaflet as well as their website explains
that incense is common at the later service but is used at
the early service only on "high holy days." The
clergy were properly vested in quite traditional vestments.
Two vested vergers, along with acolytes, assisted in the service.
The celebrant faced the congregation. The first and second
readings were done by choir members who apparently are also
lay readers. The gospel book was brought down into the congregation
by a gloved acolyte. The congregation sang well, due in part
to the good choir and talented organist. However, the sursum
corda, preface, and other parts of the service music were
chanted to tunes I was not familiar with and which I'm afraid
I found rather lame. Communion was traditional, with the usual
thin round wafers and the common cup ministered at the altar
rail (which certainly had been installed subsequent to the
building's Church of Christ days).
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 Deacon Rowell is on his way to full ordination, having
left the practice of law to enter the ministry. I'll bet he
did great in the courtroom, as his delivery was concise, clear,
and (when appropriate) entertaining.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The psalm for the day was Psalm 1 ("Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...").
Deacon Rowell pointed out that this psalm is a guide for the
Christian life. It outlines what good folks do, and what they
avoid, and what happens to the other folks.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The music! Every university city I have ever been in has great
music in their churches, and if St Peter's is typical, then
Tallahassee is no different. The music at the offertory was
an 18th century duet performed by a talented tenor and countertenor.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I don't like to go to church with children, and this was the
family service. The kneelers were torture. The sound system
was unnecessary. The peace was active.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
October is the prettiest month in the South, and coffee on
the lawn was a great idea. The ladies had set up tables, and
as we walked out of church, coffee awaited us. The people
were Deep South friendly.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
There were no cakes or cookies, and no sherry, but there was
no way to avoid being involved in the after-service coffee.
It was also parents' weekend at Florida State University,
and the church was hosting a brunch after the morning services
for the students and their families. Being neither a student
at Florida State nor the parent of one, I passed on that.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 I have personal concerns about the "troubles" in
the Anglican communion. Nevertheless, this congregation's
professed allegiance to traditional Christian values is quite
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. Although traditional evensong is my favorite service,
choral eucharist well done comes in a close second. I really
want to be around some day when they do Rite I at this church.
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The lovely voice of the countertenor in the 18th century duet.
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