|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 Incarnation, Dallas, Texas, USA
Worshipper: Preacher's Kid.
of the Incarnation, Dallas, Texas, USA.
Episcopal Church, Diocese
This cruciform Gothic church is one of several in the Dallas-Fort
Worth metroplex all designed by the same firm. It looks like
a church ought to look. The ceiling is about 65 feet above the
floor. Various additions and remodelings have been done, but
the only noticeable addition to the church itself is a cloister
leading from the central building alongside the south wall.
Over the years carpets were removed and replaced with slate,
the ceilings were hardened, and cushions removed, so that the
building now has a reverberance truly characteristic of the
Many of Incarnation's members are quite wealthy and influential,
not only in Dallas, but also in Texas and the country. The people
themselves are quite loyal to the parish, and many drive significant
distances from all over the metroplex to worship. There are
many young families in the congregation, and the church has
responded with contemporary services that they call "Uptown
The area around the church is now officially called Uptown.
When Dallas was small, the area lay well outside the city limits
and was home to those who were unwelcome closer in, namely Blacks
and Hispanics. But what was once a remote backwater is now completely
engulfed by the city of Dallas. Urban renewal transformed the
area beginning in the late 20th century, and virtually nothing
remains of its former self. Today Uptown is a warren of condominiums,
trendy restaurants and local and chain retailers. Even though
it is one of the most densely developed sections of the city,
it is also one of the most pedestrian-friendly.
The Rt Revd Anthony J. Burton, who resigned as Bishop of Saskatchewan,
Canada, in 2008 to answer the call as rector of Church of the
Incarnation, was the preacher. The Revd Joe Hermerding, assistant
rector, was the celebrant, assisted by the Revd Deacon Paul
Wheatley. Also participating were the Revd Matthew S.C. Olver,
assistant rector; the Revd Harry
Hill, assistant rector; and the Revd T. Gregory Methvin, vice
rector. The music was provided by Scott Dettra, choirmaster
and director of music; Julane Swank, interim assistant organist;
and Robert Dicks, organ scholar.
The date & time:
First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2012, 11.15am.
What was the name of the service?
Choral Eucharist with Great Litany in Procession.
How full was the building?
The building seats around 700 and was about 95 per cent full.
Texans take church seriously.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We arrived at the church rather early. The usher crew for the
service were arriving and they greeted us warmly. The choir
were having their warm-up from the chancel and it was a treat
to have a preview of what was to come. Bishop Burton was in
the narthex and he gave us a friendly welcome.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews are traditional oak, with leather-covered padded kneelers, not very different from many other similar churches.
How would you describe the pre-service
Having arrived early, we had an opportunity to observe the congregation
as they gathered. Most everyone entered quietly, knelt, and
awaited the commencement of the service. A few people recognized
each other and there were hugs and handshakes here and there.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Unto thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul: O my God, in thee
have I trusted."
What books did the congregation use during the
A special edition leaflet that included everything needed. The
service itself was taken from the Prayer Book 1979
and Hymnal 1982.
What musical instruments
Organ. The original EM Skinner organ was rebuilt in the early
1990s by Noack Organ Company of Falmouth, Massachusetts, and
is unique in that it combines an electronic console with slider
wind chests normally found in tracker instruments. There is
a rank of herald trumpets on the back wall. The tower bells
were rung during the elevations.
Did anything distract
There were some small children in front of us who simply weren’t
tolerating the service, much less the procession. Their father
wisely removed them. A gentleman in front of us slipped out
of his shoes while he was kneeling in point of fact,
not a bad idea!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
This is just about as high-church as you can get in Texas, short
of the few-and-far-between Anglo-Catholic churches (the Kid
only knows of one, but perhaps there is another somewhere).
The service music for the core of the eucharist was William
Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices. Every participant,
including the congregation, knew the service and appeared to
delight in it.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 Bishop Burton is a magnificent public speaker and
a truly knowledgeable homilist. His delivery is casual without
being condescending. He knows how to use humor to make a point.
The Kid could listen to him every Sunday.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
Because it was the First Sunday of Advent, we were reminded
that this was New Year’s Day for the Church. But we cannot just
look forward to Christmas without understanding that Christmas
leads on to the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
This service was as nearly perfect as human worship can get.
The sermon was great, the chanting was on pitch, the congregational
singing was heartfelt. The choir in this church are among the
best-trained and best-disciplined the Kid has ever known
and this goes back over a period of at least 20 years. They
just get better and better.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
The peace. This is personal, but the Kid was taught to use that
short period of time after the benediction to reflect upon the
prayers just said. The Kid thinks that the meet-and-greet can
wait until the coffee hour.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The Kid spotted someone he knows who has recently joined the
parish, and we had a nice conversation.
How would you describe the after-service
It was slim. I was told that the great hall, which previously
was used for coffee hour, is now utilized for the "Uptown
Service", so the coffee urn and iced tea pitcher (remember,
we are in Texas) were set out in the hallway outside the bookstore.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 The Kid has known this church for a long time. Even
though he no longer lives in Dallas, he has made a point of
attending services here every time he is back in town. Over
the course of years, many staff and clergy changes have occurred,
and but for a couple of retired clerics who participate in activities
of the church, none of the "old timers" are here any
longer. However, the growth, not only size-wise and spiritually,
but liturgically, is remarkable. If the Kid were to move back
to Dallas, he would be here in church on his first Sunday in
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The great litany in procession.
|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.