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Trinity, meeting in Ermita de San Fernando, Puerto de Mogán, Canary Islands
The church: Holy Trinity, meeting
in Ermita de San Fernando, Puerto de Mogán, Las Palmas
de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands.
Denomination: Church of England,
Diocese in Europe.
The building: This Anglican congregation has its own church building, but
on Fridays they meet in the Roman Catholic Ermita de San Fernando
Puerto de Mogán, a small chapel built by a local family
in 1936. It is simply furnished, with wooden pews on either
side of a central aisle. The altar stands in front of a wooden
reredos that includes a statue of Mary, mother of Jesus, above
a statue of her Son on the cross. Other statues include San
Fernando, in 16th century Spanish costume. The décor
also includes stations of the cross along the walls on either
The church: On their website they state that they are "the English
speaking church for all Anglicans" and that "members
of other Christian denominations are very welcome." They
maintain close ties with other island churches. They sponsor
a lunch club and an opera group as well as a mission in Peru.
The neighbourhood: Gran Canaria is one of the more central of the Canary Islands,
situated in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northwest
Africa. Puerto de Mogán is a former fishing village
whose canals and bridges have earned it the sobriquet "the
Venice of the Canaries." Its small village charm and
volcanic mountain scenery make it a popular tourist attraction,
as do its good local restaurants featuring fresh-caught seafood.
The cast: The Revd Peter Ford, chaplain.
The date & time: Friday, 2 December 2011, 12.00pm.
What was the
name of the service?
How full was
Nine in the congregation, including a lector from the Spanish
Episcopal church, who also administered the chalice during
welcome you personally?
Everyone, including your Mystery Worshipper, was welcomed
outside the church by the priest, who was clearly waiting
there to greet his congregation. He acknowledged each individual
or group as they arrived. Some were clearly well known to
him but he was equally friendly to all.
Was your pew
Hard, especially the kneeler built into the back of the pew
in front. But no worse than many another I have experienced.
How would you
describe the pre-service
Quiet and reverential, permeated by the noise of shoppers in the street
market outside, but not to the point of distraction.
What were the
exact opening words of the
"Welcome!" The priest then proceeded to say it was good to welcome
newcomers and to welcome back those with previous connections to the
church. He added that everyone should sit, kneel or stand as they felt
most comfortable – there were no expectations about these things.
What books did
the congregation use during the
The priest handed everyone a laminated service sheet with
the outline of the service, including all congregational responses.
At the end of the service he also handed out the Chaplaincy's
instruments were played?
There was no music.
The paschal candle, next to which was the church's fire extinguisher.
I wondered whether this was serendipitous or good risk assessment!
Immediately above the extinguisher there was a statue of Christ,
which offered further distraction about risk assessment.
Was the worship
stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
It was a traditional Anglican said communion service, well
ordered but at neither extreme of Anglican worship. The version
of Common Worship that they followed is frequently
used in the Diocese of Europe. It was a formal order of service
with the usual elements of a communion service, where the
congregation said the Gloria, the creed, and sundry responses.
long was the sermon?
On a scale of
1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Tremendously enthusiastic. He used notes but addressed
the congregation directly most of the time. And he smiled
In a nutshell,
what was the sermon
The theme of the day's gospel, which was the opening verses
of St Mark. This cuts to the heart of the story of the Christian
good news. Mark does not spend time on the early years of
Christ's life but goes directly to the main theme of his ministry,
that "Jesus Christ is good news." Christians tend to
forget the good news and worry about peripheral things like
the state of their church's roof. They can lack joy. People
go into church looking like miserable sinners and come out
looking like miserable sinners. Their lives do not reflect
Jesus' challenge to carry the good news. Even if we cannot
forget about financial worries, we should at least leave the
service with smiles on our faces as we take the gospel message
Which part of
the service was like being in
The obvious enthusiasm of the preacher for the joy of the gospel
And which part
was like being in... er... the other place?
The absence of music, apart from the distant strains of popular songs
from the street market outside.
when you hung around after the service looking lost?
So small a congregation does not admit of being overlooked! The priest
and people chatted outside after the service in a very friendly way.
How would you
describe the after-service
The church does not have facilities for providing its own coffee.
Refreshments are taken in a local tapas bar and this information is
printed at the end of the service sheet with an invitation to attend.
Presumably one could spend the rest of the day there if one so chose!
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
6 – The welcome was friendly but I would miss singing
hymns and the support of a larger congregation. Presumably
if one lived in Puerto de Mogán, one could find transport
up to the Chaplaincy's other churches in Maspalomas or Las
Palmas, where there is a larger English-speaking population.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a
Yes. We may have been a small group, but everyone there was
willing to find time on a weekday for worship despite the
attractions of a holiday destination. It was good to be together.
What one thing
will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Two things. The friendliness of the congregation and the sincerity of
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