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Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
Christ Church, Little
Rock, Arkansas, USA.
Episcopal Church, Diocese
The church is a Neo-Gothic structure, dedicated on September
28, 1941, replacing two earlier buildings that were both destroyed
by fire. It is in the shape of a Latin Cross and is a beautiful
structure that draws one's eyes up toward heaven. The exterior
is Arkansas stone. Inside, there is a long, high nave, with
a wooden vaulted ceiling. The church is bright, with white walls
and tall, beautiful stained glass. The choir sit between the
nave and the high altar, in English split-stalls, facing each
They have all the usual men's and women's groups, and they sponsor
an annual retreat. Special mention goes to their taking an active
role in the community. Their website states: "Currently
Christ Church is undergoing the same revitalization that is
taking place in the rest of downtown Little Rock." Weekday
services alternate between morning prayer and the eucharist.
They have three eucharists each Sunday plus the office of compline.
The church is open daily for prayer and meditation.
Little Rock is the capital of Arkansas and its largest city.
Its name derives from a rock formation in the Arkansas River
that early travelers used as a landmark. In 1957, Arkansas Governor
Orval Faubus called out the National Guard and stationed himself
in the doorway of Little Rock High School to block the enrollment
of nine African-American students after the US Supreme Court
ruled in Brown vs Board of Education that segregation
was unconstitutional. President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered
the National Guard to stand down and sent in federal troops
to escort the students into the school. The incident was among
those that marked the beginning of the civil rights movement
in the United States. The church is located in the heart of
downtown Little Rock, at the corner of Scott Street and Capital
Avenue, close to the area known as the Market District. The
area has seen major redevelopment during the early years of
the 21st century.
The celebrant was the associate rector, the Revd Dr Kate Alexander.
The rector, the Revd Scott Walters, preached. Steve Bullock,
organist and choirmaster, was in charge of the music.
The date & time:
First Sunday after Pentecost (Trinity Sunday), May 26, 2013,10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
My guess is that there was somewhere between 250 and 300. There
was a rump in every pew. Only about 15 of the gentlemen (myself
included) wore a coat and tie. One lady wore khaki shorts, leather
sandals, and black socks. Yuck!
Did anyone welcome you
I arrived 18 minutes early, so there were very few people around,
but a kind lady opened the door for me, handed me a service
leaflet, and gave me a warm "Good morning."
Was your pew comfortable?
No. It was a wooden pew, with a hard red cushion that extended
the length. The cushion kept moving around, which was more of
a nuisance than a help. It would have been more comfortable
without the cushion at all.
How would you describe the pre-service
When I arrived, there were no more than 20 people in there,
so it was silent. As the church filled up, there was the inevitable
noise of people moving around, people shuffling in pews, pages
rustling, etc. Despite the natural background noise, there was
very little chatter, and a peaceful, reverent atmosphere was
maintained. Many people were kneeling, praying. The organist
played Partita on Nicaea by the contemporary American
organist and composer Charles Callahan.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation use during the
The Hymnal 1982 was the only book used. Everything
was printed in the service leaflet, so there was no need for
the Prayer Book, although it was available in the pews.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and a choir of what appeared to be about 40 voices.
Did anything distract you?
The acolytes, and many of the choir members, were wearing jeans
and tennis shoes, which looked silly poking out from under their
black cassocks. A fire truck (or perhaps ambulance?) drove past
once or twice, which isn't surprising, since the church is in
the heart of downtown Little Rock. Only one cell phone went
off, and that was before the service.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The service wasn't stiff upper-lip, but it certainly wasn't
happy-clappy either. It was a dignified Rite II service.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 The rector spoke well. I wouldn't say that his sermon
was particularly academic in nature, but it had a nice, positive
message. I was relieved that the sermon wasn't one
of those that uses cheesy analogies to try to explain the Trinity,
which happens all too often on Trinity Sunday.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
Wisdom is not an individual thing, but a cry to all that live.
God is one, but is also a community, and emerges in our exchanges
in life's encounters.
Which part of the service was like being in
There was a wonderful, healthy diversity in the congregation:
diversity in ethnicity, age, orientation, etc. I believe that
heaven will be an immensely diverse place, and it was nice to
be reminded of this at Christ Church.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I always wear a coat and tie whenever I go to church, and found
myself getting rather hot during the service. Again, I found
the acolytes wearing tennis shoes to be very distracting. Someone
behind me was chomping on a piece of gum, and at one point made
that awful popping noise with it.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
About 15 people sat back down after the final hymn to listen
to the postlude. I received a few warm smiles, but no one offered
to help me, and no one struck up a conversation.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
There may have been after-service coffee; however, there was
none advertised in the service-leaflet, and no mention of it
in the announcements.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 The people seemed pleasant enough, but I was a bit
disappointed with the music. Only one anthem was sung (this
was at the offertory), which was rather simple in nature. The
psalm was not set to Anglican chant, but instead to plainsong.
If Anglicans don't do Anglican chant, no one is going to do
it. I don't want to see this glorious art form die off. I was
given to understand that some of the choir members are paid
professionals; that being the case, I felt that they could have
done more than they did.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. The service was a good testament to the love of Jesus.
Overall it had a very peaceful, and calming effect.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The acolytes in tennis shoes!
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