|Comment on this report, or find other reports.
|Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
|Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
Lutheran, Moline, Illinois, USA
Lutheran, Moline, Illinois, USA.
Church in America, Northern
The building towers over its surroundings in downtown Moline.
There are two striking features: a mural over the reredos in
a vividly realistic, 19th-century style depicting the ascension
of Christ, and a horseshoe-shaped balcony on three sides of
the church. This is the parish's second home, which the parish
voted to build in 1875. The building was extensively renovated
in 1918 to include, according to their website, "a massive
high altar to reflect the increasing sacramental and liturgical
developments in the Augustana Synod."
First Lutheran was founded in 1850 as the Swedish Evangelical
Lutheran Church, at about the same time as a Swedish Methodist
and Swedish Baptist church were also founded in Moline. By 1867
they reported a baptized membership of 1,550. Today they offer
a fairly typical mix of educational opportunities, women's groups,
and social justice ministries. They provide a nursery for students
at Black Hawk College, a local school with programs in nursing,
law enforcement and computer science, among others. They also
sponsor classes in English as a second language and participate
in other community services.
Moline, along with another city in Illinois and two in Iowa,
comprise what is known as the Quad Cities. Collectively, these
towns form the largest metropolitan area on the Mississippi
River between Minneapolis and Saint Louis. Moline is best known
as home to Deere & Company, maker of the John Deere line
of tractors and other large farm implements and gardening machinery.
First Lutheran is in the middle of downtown Moline, across the
street from a collection of small businesses.
The Revd Daniel Witkowski, pastor, presided and preached. The
organist was Grayson Brottmiller.
The date & time:
Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 1, 2010, 9.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About three-quarters full. I estimate the church seats about
260 (not counting the balcony).
Did anyone welcome you
I was handed a service leaflet as I entered.
Was your pew comfortable?
A fairly comfortable wooden pew. No kneelers.
How would you describe the pre-service
Fairly chatty when I first entered; it quieted down fairly quickly
when Mr Brottmiller began his prelude (an Andante by
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning, and welcome to First Lutheran."
What books did the congregation use during the
Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006) was in the pews,
but not used. The service leaflet contained all of the music
and liturgical texts for the service. These were for the most
part not from ELW, but from the 1995 With One Voice.
What musical instruments
A Zimmer pipe organ. Their website describes a large choir,
which (alas) as it was August, I did not have the opportunity
Did anything distract
Pastor Witkowski, who began the service vested in alb and stole,
disappeared after the sermon, to reappear near the end of the
hymn of the day in a chasuble, in time to lead the congregation
in the Apostle's Creed and intercessions. I have seen Lutheran
and Episcopal presiders "dress for dinner," but this was the
first time I had seen a presider "dress for the Creed."
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
A very formal, catholic-minded eucharistic liturgy, framed at both beginning and end by some very informal announcements. Communion was received kneeling. Music was fairly traditional.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Pastor Witkowski is an excellent speaker, with no distracting idiosyncrasies.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The gospel for this Sunday was Luke 12:13-21 (the parable of
the foolish rich man). He began by talking about barns in the
Midwest, and all of the ways that imagery of barns has entered
Midwesterners' vocabularies: barn-raising, barnstorming, etc.
He contrasted our abundance today with what he termed a "culture
of scarcity" in Jesus' day. The community in Jesus' day did
not look favorably on the rich; it was a sin, in this culture
of scarcity, not to share. The parable is not only about material
goods. Our "barns" can be filled with power or prestige. We
should remember that, like the wealthy landowner, we will ultimately
have to face God stripped of our possessions.
Which part of the service was like being in
Seeing a fairly full church on an August Sunday morning reverently
celebrating the eucharist. And I appreciated Pastor Witkowski's
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
My own prejudices will be on display here. This service represents
a strand of high-church Lutheranism that I call "let pastor
do it." There was very little lay involvement, other than having
lay readers give the first two readings. Pastor Witkowski led
the intercessions, set the altar without assistance, led the
post-communion prayer, used a eucharistic prayer without memorial
acclamation, etc. The two women who administered the "wee cuppies"
did so without any words of administration. Where I usually
worship there is much more lay involvement, and this approach
to liturgy seemed odd to me.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. The other folks in my pew were engaged in conversation
without moving, and so I was stuck in my pew for a while. But
no one spoke to me. When I finally did make it to the back of
the church, Pastor Witkowski asked, "And who are you?" We chatted
briefly. I got the impression that, probably due to its location,
there are not a lot of visitors to First Lutheran on a typical
How would you describe the after-service
The announcements before the service noted that there would
be brainstorming sessions after the service, for parishioners
to discuss what they would like to see happening in the parish
over the next five years. The announcements after the service
noted that there would be a reception, prior to the brainstorming
sessions, to celebrate a couple's 64th wedding anniversary.
Neither of these struck me as events appropriate for a visitor,
so I got an early start on my six hour drive home.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 This is a hard call. The kind of liturgy practiced
at First Lutheran is quite different from what I am used to,
and would take some time to adjust to. On the other hand, it
appears that, given its location, quite a few people are driving
some distance to be a part of this parish community; they must
be doing something right. And I would be curious as to what
that 50-voice choir sounds like. If we were ever to move to
Moline, we would probably try First Lutheran for a few weeks.
Hard to judge after only one service, and there are quite a
few other ELCA parishes in the Quad Cities area.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Pastor Witkowski's "And who are you?"
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.