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|1948: St Laurence
in Lanzarote, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote, Canary Islands
in Lanzarote, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
Church of England, Diocese
A small unassuming whitewashed building topped by twin bells,
at the end of a terrace of properties that wind their way up
a steep street. Inside there is a small narthex, and access
to the main body of the church is through a tall wrought iron
gateway inscribed with the words "Ave Maria." The
interior has cool whitewashed walls on which are mounted the
stations of the cross. A large wooden crucifix is hung on the
wall behind the altar, which consists of a small communion table
on which is placed a silver cross together with two candles.
The building hosts congregations of three denominations: Roman
Catholic (under the name Nuestra Señora del Carmen),
German Evangelical, and the Anglican church of St Laurence.
The Canary Islands have a Roman Catholic tradition. However,
with the advent of tourism, Anglican and German churches have
established themselves to cater to the spiritual needs of residents
and visitors, meeting primarily in Roman Catholic churches.
I think this is a lovely example of fellow Christians working
together. St Laurence in Lanzarote also meets at existing churches
in Puerto del Carmen, Nazaret and Playa Blanca, and a meeting
hall at Costa Teguise. There is a timetable of services of holy
communion and morning prayer at all these locations. There appears
to be a thriving resident ex-pat congregation with an active
social calendar. They have a Bible study group and a Mothersí
The Canary Islands are an archipelago off the northwest coast
of Africa. Their name is thought to derive from the Latin meaning
"island of the dogs" and may refer to large populations
of monk seals ("sea dogs") that once flourished there.
The islands are an autonomous community within the kingdom of
Spain and are largely self-governing. Puerto del Carmen is a
man-made tourist resort on the south coast of Lanzarote, the
easternmost island and probably the first to be settled. A volcanic
island, Lanzarote features some very dramatic landscapes. The
church is situated in the old part of the original village,
close to the fishing harbour. Bars and cafes of all descriptions
now surround it.
The Revd Idris Vaughan, chaplain, and Mr David Dowdell,
lay reader. Father Vaughan is the sole Anglican priest on the
island and he has quite a tight timetable in ministering to
the four churches.
The date & time:
Easter Sunday, 4 April 2010, 12.30pm.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The small church was quite full Ė I would say there were at
least 80 people present, with a good mixture of ages. It was
difficult to work out who were regulars and who were tourists.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Several ladies greeted me and made me feel welcome.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was comfortable enough for a modern wooden pew. However,
there were no hassocks and my poor knees shook at the prospect
of kneeling on marble, so I didnít subject them to it!
How would you describe the pre-service
It was extremely quiet, with some whispered greetings and conversations. I was puzzled that there was no music on this Easter Sunday, and looked around for the organ. Was it hidden in an archway or was it at the back? I couldnít see one.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Alleluia. Christ is risen." "He is risen indeed.
What books did the congregation use during the
Common Worship Holy Communion Order 1, Complete
Anglican Hymns Old and New, and a sheet containing the
collect, readings and gospel.
What musical instruments
None! The chaplain sang the opening line of each hymn, which
the congregation then took up.
Did anything distract
I felt vaguely perturbed at the lack of music, even though the
congregation sang valiantly. It somehow didnít feel quite right
for Easter day.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
It was solemn and dignified with the minimum of ceremony. The
celebrant was vested in a gold coloured chasuble and his reader
wore a blue scarf over his alb. Bells were rung at the consecration.
The language was a mixture of modern and traditional, which
seemed appropriate since the ex-pat congregation and the visitors
must have come from all sorts of traditions.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 The chaplain involved children in his sermon by inviting
them to the front, where they were given the task of illustrating
the risen Christ. The congregation had to sing "We are
the king who rides a donkey" to the tune of "What
shall we do with the drunken sailor." At the refrain "Jesus
the king is risen" the children had to leap into the air.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
In a nutshell, it was about the surprise of Easter. Surprises
come in all forms: delightful, joyous, shocking. Everyone had
seen Jesus crucified on the cross, yet his tomb was empty. This
brought about mixed emotions of confusion and fear to Mary Magdalene
and the other women who had brought spices to embalm his body.
It is the same for us when we lose our loved ones. This is where
God gives us a new direction and brings light out of darkness.
We rejoice that Jesus has risen today.
Which part of the service was like being in
The peacefulness of the much used little church seemed like an oasis of calm amidst the bustle of the outside secular world.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The lack of an organ meant everyone had to sing in tune. Some
didnít manage it! A groaner somewhere behind me would have been
better miming the words!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A couple approached me; apparently we had boarded the same bus
in Costa Teguise, some 10 miles away. Others made friendly conversation
and I had a pleasant chat with the chaplain.
How would you describe the after-service
We were all presented with a small bag of mini Easter eggs.
I donít think they had the facilities for offering liquid refreshments.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 People were friendly and convivial, and I departed
thinking I would like to visit this church again. The opportunity
presented itself sooner than I had anticipated! I found myself
unable to return home and was stranded on Lanzarote because
of the volcanic ash from an Icelandic volcano that caused all
northern European airspace to close down. Fortunately my airline
put me up at a luxury hotel, and so I had another chance to
worship at the church again.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Undoubtedly. I always enjoy seeking out an Anglican service when I am on holiday, and I left this church feeling warm and contented.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The peace and the calm soothing feeling one experiences when visiting this church.
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