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2387: St Andrew's, Kokomo, Indiana, USA
St Andrew, Kokomo, IN
Mystery Worshipper: William Dewy.
The church: St Andrew's, Kokomo, Indiana, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of Northern Indiana.
The building: A blend of old and new. The present edifice has evolved from buildings constructed in 1911 (moved from its original site across town) 1925, and 1948. The whole was completed by about 1952. The lobby area can be entered from front (steps) or back (also steps, but also a substantial elevator that I didnít notice being used). Like many older buildings, it has several levels, making it difficult to get around unless you are able-bodied. I found the circa 1960s stained glass unusual because, aside from St Andrew and a few other panes, I didnít recognize many symbols. A document on the churchís website explains that the paired windows in the nave depict Old Testament promises and New Testament fulfillments. The images in the glass also reminded me of Marvel Comics illustrations.
The church: Thereís plenty of opportunity for involvement. There are groups for acolytes and readers, education and personal devotion, landscaping, public relations, and even a Mah Jongg league. Members of the parish are involved in a variety of community service projects, including Kokomo Urban Outreach and Coordinated Assistance Ministries (CAM), a day shelter that helps clients in finding employment and social services.
The neighborhood: Kokomo is a city in central Indiana, named after a Miami Indian chief whose name means "black walnut." Kokomo calls itself "the City of Firsts" due to the genius of native son and inventor Elwood Haynes, who in 1894 pioneered one of the first internal combustion automobile engines and in 1912 invented stainless steel flatware. Other "firsts" born in Kokomo were the pneumatic rubber tire (1894), canned tomato juice (1928), and the push-button car radio (1934). The first restaurant in the national chain of Ponderosa Steak Houses was opened in Kokomo in 1968. On the darker side, Kokomo was host in 1923 to the largest Ku Klux Klan gathering in history. St Andrew's Church is located downtown in the Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood, home to several carefully preserved late 19th century mansions in the Victorian and other styles.
The cast: The Revd Richard Lightsey, rector, was celebrant and preacher. Lay eucharistic ministers, readers and other people who served were listed in the weekly bulletin.
The date & time: Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012, 11.11am.

What was the name of the service?
Alternative Service Ė Rite III.

How full was the building?
Thirty-five people were present.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
One man waved as we drove into the parking lot. The rector greeted us and welcomed us to the parish several minutes before the service; he introduced us to a parishioner or two and invited us to have coffee in the fellowship hall before the service began.

Was your pew comfortable?
The standard wooden pew with fold-down kneeler was comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The musicians were warming up by singing and playing. Consequently, the visiting or chatting before the service was fairly loud. A woman in the back of the church was pinning flame-shaped red felt cut-outs on peopleís clothing.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
There was a service bulletin that included a brief order of worship and announcements for the week. A separate leaflet with the lessons was included with the bulletin. Texts of other parts of the liturgy, including hymns and songs, were projected onto a screen in the front of the church. The congregation didnít use the Prayer Book or either hymnal in the pew racks.

What musical instruments were played?
Acoustic guitar with microphone, electric bass guitar, drums, and miked singers. They played and sang extremely well with good time and tune and I suppose they reflected the musical taste of the congregation. They played loudly. I was not uncomfortable with the volume, but I noticed that many people in the congregation appeared to be singing but I couldnít hear a bit of it. The music was entirely unknown to me except for the Sanctus, which was based on the hymn tune Nicea.

Did anything distract you?
I found a few things distracting. A very young acolyte wearing a batman t-shirt was lighting rather tall altar candles towering over his head. A bat came from somewhere during the reading of the psalm and flew about between the projector and the screen, giving the impression of multiple bats flying about the nave. The reading got quietly thin during much of the psalm. My biggest distraction, though, occurred during the canon of the mass (see below).

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was a happy celebration, but happy clappy wouldnít describe it. Their website characterizes it as "an upbeat, energized, and very modern service." The language and music were indeed modern, but it was more straightforward than I had anticipated. One odd thing: There was a great copper vat filled with baptismal water (left over from an earlier service) on a table before the communion rail. There were also a couple of shallow bowls containing the oil of catechumens. Toward the end of the sermon, the rector invited us to take some holy oil and place it on our foreheads as we approached for communion. I was trying to think of a precedent for Christians anointing themselves. As a result, I donít think I was paying as close attention to the eucharistic action as I would have liked.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
6 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The rector spoke from the center aisle. He moved a music stand into place to serve as a lectern, but I believe he spoke without notes. His fine clear voice was easily understood. He began by saying that because of the bat's unscheduled appearance, there would be no sermon. But he went on to preach what I consider to be one of the best Pentecost sermons I have ever heard!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
There is a difference between knowing facts intellectually and being empowered by the Spirit with the epiphany of a "knowing ability."

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
At the end of the service, the projection screen was rolled up, thus revealing the liturgical east end of the chancel with its holy hardware and beautiful rose window.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I appreciate the advantages of the PowerPoint presentation of the liturgical texts and song lyrics; it certainly saves a great deal of copying and announcing of pages. The text on the screen, however, was nearly illegible to me. It was out of focus and looked like a 3-D movie for which I didnít have the proper spectacles. It was also dark.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The band did a bit of de-briefing. Friendly people milled about looking for where the bat had gone.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
We were offered coffee before the service; there was none offered afterwards.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – I think I would be more likely to attend the Rite I or Rite II service.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The positive energy and drive of the musicians, and the brief but uplifting sermon on a major feast.
 
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