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of the Epiphany, Tempe, Arizona, USA
of the Epiphany, Tempe, Arizona, USA.
Episcopal Church, Diocese
A modern brick and metal edifice with two wings at angles to
a copper-clad cylinder. Inside, the pews are slanted downward
to the altar, which has a lighted cross behind it. Behind the
altar there is a Lady chapel inside the copper cylinder. Along
the side walls are stations of the cross consisting of glass
etchings on wood backgrounds very simple, but lovely.
To the right side of the altar is a dove and nimbus on the brick
wall; to the left are the choir seats and the organ. A school
and parish hall complete the campus.
Their ministries and outreaches are all well documented on their
website. Special mention goes to a kids' cafe to give children
a safe place to go after school to get a nutritious snack and
help with homework.
Tempe is a middle class suburb to the southeast of Phoenix.
It is home to Arizona State University, and downtown Tempe is
very much a college town. The church is located some distance
from downtown in a quiet family neighborhood near the 101 freeway
and off Price Road (going south).
The Revd Ronald G. Poston, rector, celebrated the eucharist.
He was assisted by the Revd Dr Patricia Dwyer, who conducted
the service up to and including the gospel, whereupon the rector
took over for the rest of the service. I had never seen it done
this way before. David Bauer served as eucharistic minister.
There were also four servers, male and female.
The date & time:
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 18, 2011, 10.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About two-thirds full, with about 150 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Greeters were stationed at the doors to wish everyone a
good morning. Inside, several people said hello and welcome.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes. Unpadded wooden benches, but there was a lot of room and
you could stretch your feet out under the front pew.
How would you describe the pre-service
Very talkative. Many parishioners were returning from summer
vacation and had a lot of catching up to do with each other.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning. Today, please join us in the parish hall after
church for a vestry meeting with treats and coffee."
What books did the congregation use during the
The bulletin was very thorough and extensive and had the whole
service printed out. However, the Hymnal 1982 was used
for the hymns mentioned in the order of service.
What musical instruments were played?
Just an organ, a nicely voiced electronic instrument. There
was also a choir of about a dozen men and women.
Did anything distract you?
A father and his teenage son sitting in front of us looked very
much alike and were casually but nicely dressed. It was refreshing
to see a teenager who took pride in his appearance. As the gospel
was being read, an elderly lady became rather vocally upset
over something and had to be gently eased out of church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
It was a dignified, prayerful and respectful service throughout.
No bells or smells, although there were candles on the altar.
The clergy were vested in albs and stoles; the acolytes in albs.
We sang all the usual parts, although there was no Gloria despite
it not being a penitential season. The hymns were all tried-and-true
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 The rector was clear and concise and did not digress
in his sermon.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
"God Reigns." The rector began by recounting how St Paul's Chapel
in New York City, directly across the street from Ground Zero,
was not damaged in the least during the terrible events of 9/11.
In the midst of that tragedy, little victories were seen. God
was in the midst of it all. God reminds his people that we are
not forgotten. In today's gospel reading, Matthew 20:1-16 (the
parable of the workers in the vineyard), we see that justice
has nothing to do with the amount of work done. The vineyard
owner had an "anti-entitlement" business plan. God also has
a plan, whereby he gives his grace, justice and mercy to all,
especially to the least and the lost: to those who earned it
first as well as to the ones who came late. But like with every
peal of the bell at the church at Ground Zero, God Reigns.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The choir, small though it was, sang beautifully. Mendelssohn's
"Grant us Peace", "From Glory to Glory" (St Kervene)
and "Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor" (Bryn Calfaria)
were especially awe inspiring. The choirmaster also has a spectacular
voice and I enjoyed listening to him.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The altar servers seemed bored and detached. Had they been less
bored, they would have selected more appropriate footwear from
their wardrobes other than flip-flops and sneakers. But perhaps
the church doesn't enforce a dress code, as the eucharistic
minister was wearing cowboy boots beneath his alb! And all good
Shipmates know that the Baby Jesus cries when he doesn't hear
the Gloria sung when prescribed.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
We were politely shuttled to the hall where sandwiches, cakes,
coffee and beverages were on offer. As we ate, the church wardens
gave a short presentation telling what the church was working
on. We sat at a table with two other parishioners who introduced
themselves and made conversation.
How would you describe the after-service
Good coffee, from what I was told (I drink tea). There was also
some juice and soda. The cakes and sandwich makings were very
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 I could see myself very happy here. They have a nice
congregation who do a lot of things. Being passive is not my
cup of tea, so I would definitely join in their community works.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
The commitment of the people and the enthusiasm. This church
smiles and the parishioners seem genuinely to like one another.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I think the story about the church at Ground Zero was most worth
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