|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.
Church Cathedral, Vancouver, Canada
Worshipper: Fluffy Bunny.
Church Cathedral, Vancouver, Canada.
Anglican Church of Canada, Diocese of New Westminster.
The building: Christ
Church is an unimposing Victorian Gothic building on a corner
in downtown Vancouver dwarfed by high-rise towers, which makes
it look and feel more like a parish church than a grand cathedral.
Worship has taken place on this site since 1888. The cathedral
narrowly survived destruction and redevelopment in the 1970s
when its own congregation was prepared to sacrifice it. But
the Vancouver public saved it, and it is now a protected heritage
Their motto is "Open doors, open hearts, open minds." It did
not feel like just a bon mot either. Their worship sheet
emphasizes their commitment to diversity and to providing a
safe, welcoming space for all. Their staff includes a rabbinic
scholar in residence. There is an American Sign Language interpreter
for the deaf community at the 10.30am service. The British Royal
Family worship here when visiting Vancouver.
The neighbourhood: Vancouver
is the third largest city in Canada and the most densely populated,
with an urban mix of residential and corporate buildings that
has led to its being rated one of the most livable cities in
the world consistently over the past decade. The church is situated
in the downtown core, surrounded by high rise hotels, apartments
and business offices, and so is hidden by its much taller neighbours.
The cast: The
Ven. Ellen Clark-King, vicar, officiated at the morning eucharist,
assisted by the Revd Deacon Dixie Black. The preacher was the
Very Revd Dr Peter Elliott, dean and pastor. The Revd Kay Schmitt
and the Revd Ed Schmitt, and the Revd Chris Dierkes, curate,
assisted with the distribution of communion. The organist was
Edward Norman, guest musician, and a solo quartet stood in for
the vacationing choir. The Revd Canon Douglas Williams presided
at the evening service of compline, assisted by server Dana
Osborne, and the music was provided by the men's schola cantorum.
The date & time:
Fourth Sunday of Easter, 21 April 2013, 10.30am (eucharist)
and 9.30pm (compline).
What was the name of the service?
The morning service was called Choral Eucharist. The evening
service was called Compline: The Service of Gregorian Chant.
How full was the building?
In the morning it was about three-quarters full with a wide
spread of age groups. Compline was less well attended: about
Did anyone welcome you
There is a welcoming team of eight people. We were heartily
welcomed to the eucharist and encouraged to sit wherever we
wanted as we were given our service sheets. We were asked to
sign the visitors book. In the evening, however, the greeting
was silent and the church was in near-darkness.
Was your pew comfortable?
There were some old-fashioned style pews, but we opted to sit
in very comfortable chairs.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
At the morning service there was a hubbub of quiet conversation
and organ music and an air of bustling as various people prepared
for the service. Some noise filtered in from the street, as
the Sun Run, a 10km road race held in Vancouver each year around
this time, was in full swing. For compline, there was a reverent
silence, no extraneous chatter in the dark.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
At the eucharist: "Good morning and thank you all for braving
the Sun Run." In the evening, I was so caught up in the reverence
I failed to notice the opening words.
What books did the congregation use during the
The service sheet was all encompassing, with everything printed
out: the words of the service, the music and words of the hymns.
and the music for the sung parts of the service. In the book
holder in front of the chair were Common Praise, Anglican
Church of Canada and The Book of Alternative Services,
Anglican Church of Canada.
What musical instruments
In the morning, just the organ. In the evening, just the choir.
The organ is an opus of Kenneth Jones Pipe Organs Ltd of Kilcoole,
County Wicklow, Ireland.
Did anything distract
The sound of the Sun Run, which didn't stop until about 11.00am.
There was also an occasional squeaking noise that was very off-putting,
and I could not work out what it was. That had stopped in the
evening, when the only distraction was the noisy arrival of
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The Sunday morning service was middle of the road: not happy-clappy,
but also no smells and bells. Compline, however, was very Old
World, with lots of incense and all done by candlelight. The
service was mostly sung and was almost mesmeric. The chanting
was sublime and the whole service made me feel as if I was completely
at peace with the world.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes. (There was no sermon in the evening.)
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The dean was a very clear speaker and it certainly
didn't feel like 17 minutes. When I came to write this, I was
surprised to realize that he had spoken for so long.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
The gospel reading (John 10:22-30 Jesus says that his
sheep shall have eternal life and that he and the Father are
one) is the first since Easter that has nothing to do with the
Resurrection. It takes us back to the middle of winter, to the
Festival of Dedication (what we know as Hanukkah). If we want
to know about God, we need just look at Jesus. Jesus is the
human face of God. In him we see forgiveness, healing, grace,
a man who is all encompassing and who welcomes all into the
community. We are all children of God no matter what our race
or creed. He invites his followers to join him in peacemaking
and forgiveness rather than revenge. He is the fusing together
of the mortal and immortal, fully human but also divine. But
it works the other around too just as there was divinity
in Jesus, because of the Incarnation there is humanity in God.
We are all a part of God's creation; the material and the spiritual
are not separate. God's sacred creation is the Body of Christ.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Our warm and genuine welcome made it special in the morning. In the evening, it was the feeling of total relaxation and peace that led to an excellent night's sleep.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The external racket from the Sun Run and the unexplained squeaking
in the morning. During compline, the irritation of the noisy
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
After the morning eucharist we were invited to join everyone
in the basement where the parish rooms are, for coffee and tea
and also home-make cookies. One of the ministers was from Kent
and we were pointed in her direction, as we had similar accents.
After compline there was nothing; everyone left very quietly,
and so did we, so as not to spoil the atmosphere.
How would you describe the after-service
Very tasty! I have no idea if it was fair trade or not, as it
was served out of large black square urns.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
I gave it a 9 in the morning and a 10 in the evening!
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The lovely warm welcome in the morning, and the the wonderful
calm and contemplative feeling we got during compline. We are
still talking about it!
|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.