|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.
of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana,
The church: Chapel
of the Resurrection, Valparaiso University, Valparaiso,
The building: A
modern building, completed in 1959. The chapel seats about 2000
people and has a quite large high altar. There is a balcony
with organ and choir in the rear, and additional seating for
worshippers on the sides when needed. As attendance on a normal
Sunday is typically a bit lower than 2000, a smaller communion
table, surrounded on three sides by pews, was set up in the
center of the chapel. A bema, or platform, was placed behind
the communion table.
The church: The
chapel serves a university community. There are services throughout
the week, including morning prayer (sometimes in the style of
Taize) each weekday that classes are in session. The eucharist
is celebrated every Sunday at 10.00am, and there is a service
of candlelight evening prayer each Sunday at 10.00pm. As an
independent Lutheran university, the chapel typically has two
Lutheran pastors on staff: one from the Lutheran Church-Missouri
Synod (LCMS), and one from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA). As the LCMS does not ordain women, typically
the LCMS pastor is male, the ELCA pastor female. There is a
social action leadership team that oversees local volunteering,
spring break service trips, and church-based community organizing.
The chapel also hosts other university events.
The neighborhood: Valparaiso
is in the northwestern corner of Indiana, about an hour east
of Chicago. The university enrolls about 4000 students in a
wide range of undergraduate programs. The chapel stands in the
midst of Valparaiso's campus.
The cast: The
Revd Charlene Cox, university pastor, presided at the eucharist.
The sermon was given by the Revd Dr Walter Wangerin, a member
of the English faculty. Assisting ministers were Michelle Friesen-Carper,
Allison Schuette, Alissa Kretzman, and Laurie Kenyon. Lectors
were Kristin Engerer and Jonathan Haggis. Dr John Bernthal was
organist, and Jonathan Busarow directed the university men's
choir. Jimi Freund was sound technician.
The date & time: Nineteenth
Sunday after Pentecost, October 23, 2011, 10.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The altar and bema setup effectively meant that the service
took place in the back half of the chapel. That part of the
chapel was about three-quarters full.
Did anyone welcome you
A student usher handed me a large leaflet called The Service
of Holy Communion Fall Season and a small
leaflet with readings and hymns for the day.
Was your pew comfortable?
How would you describe the pre-service
Some quiet conversation, even after Dr Bernthal began the organ prelude.
What were the exact opening words of the
"The Lord be with you." Pastor Cox then gave a brief
explanation of how we would use the big leaflet and the small
leaflet in the service. She also mentioned that all of the hymns
for the service were to be found in the "cranberry book",
Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
What books did the congregation use during the
There were three volumes in the pews: Evangelical Lutheran Worship, ELCA's service book and hymnal; the Lutheran Service Book, the LCMS service book and hymnal; and the Worship and Praise Song Book, an ELCA contemporary hymnal. The latter two were not used in this service.
What musical instruments
A pipe organ, an opus of the Schlicker Organ Company, on which
the renowned organist E Power Biggs played the dedicatory recital
in 1959. The instrument was renovated by the Dobson Pipe Organ
Builders in the 1990s.
Did anything distract
The distraction, if I can call it that, was the space. I simply
wasn't used to this type of liturgical arrangement. But I certainly
had the sense that a great deal of thought had been given as
to how to celebrate the liturgy. I was never quite sure where
to focus my attention, although if I were to worship with this
community for a few weeks, I'm sure it would all come to seem
quite natural. One other distraction: the preacher, the Revd
Dr Walter Wangerin, could not quit fiddling with his wedding
band as he preached.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
A formal, evangelical-catholic liturgy. Celebrant and communion
assistant were vested in chasuble and dalmatic, respectively.
Pastor Cox's presiding style was impressive reverent,
never calling attention to herself, simply leading a community
in prayer. Hymn texts were sometimes new, but musically all
of the hymnody and service music were traditional. Communicants
could receive the wine at communion either in a small cup, or
from a common chalice.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
10 The Revd Dr Wangerin is an extremely effective public
speaker. He had arranged for five candles to be placed in the
aisle, vertically in front of the altar. He walked among the
congregation and lit each candle as he talked about the seven
"in the mountains" experiences of Jesus. The sixth
mountain was represented by a crucifix he placed on the altar;
the seventh by the processional cross near the bema.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The gospel reading was Matthew 22:34-46 (Jesus summarizes the
two greatest commandments). Pastor Wangerin noted that Jesus
teaches us what the law means when he climbs into the mountains.
There are ways we do not follow the summary of the law in our
Which part of the service was like being in
The care with which this community arranges its worship space, and the care with which they plan for the use of that space. Also, Pastor Cox's presiding style, Pastor Wangerin's sermon, and Dr Bernthal's effective organ accompaniments. His playing always supported the worship of the community, never overpowering it. Much about the Chapel of the Resurrection's worship is indeed a foretaste of heaven.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well... it's early in the term, and the men's choir who sang
Janacek's Veni Sancte Spiritus during the preparation
of the gifts (admittedly, a difficult piece) had some intonation
problems. I'm sure Prof Busarow will whip them into shape by
term's end. And I was surprised that the setting of Psalm 1
that was used included the older gender-specific language: "Happy
indeed is the man... " This sort of sexist language, to
my ears at least, grates in the second decade of the 21st century.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I remained in my seat to listen to Dr Bernthal's postlude. Even
though the people around me had enthusiastically shared the
peace during the liturgy, no one spoke to me at this point.
How would you describe the after-service
There was none.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 The question is probably irrelevant, as the Chapel
of the Resurrection is not a parish church. However, this was
almost a model of how Christian liturgy should be celebrated
(this statement, of course, reflects my own liturgical tastes).
Now that I know I can leave a Chicago hotel at 8.00am and be
at the chapel in time for their 10.00 service whenever Materfamilias
and I happen to be in Chicago, we will probably stop by the
chapel on our way home.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
|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.