|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.
United Methodist, Denver, Colorado, USA
Worshipper: Bach's Fan.
Trinity United Methodist, Denver, Colorado, USA.
This is a beautiful 19th century stone building with glorious
stained glass windows. The windows are mostly colored in various
shades of gold, amber and brown, with aqua and ruby accents.
The interior of the church has carved wood (it looked like
oak to me), which gives it a warm and inviting look. The curved
balcony is very attractive.
From their website: "Trinity is a church that strives
to support and nurture its members." There are groups
for children, youth and adults, as well as (again quoting
from their website) "a vibrant music and arts ministry
that offers opportunities for people of all ages to practice
their art and grow their souls through music, drama, writing,
and arts education." They also have a program that provides
financial resources and outreach to downtown Denver's needy.
A few years ago they sponsored a mission trip to a Methodist
church in Pushkin, Russia.
A nice combination of modern buildings and lovely old structures.
The venerable Brown Hotel, a Denver landmark for over a century,
is especially striking. Famous guests at the hotel have included
the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, a survivor of the
Titanic disaster and the subject of a Broadway musical
and motion picture of her life story; Queen Marie of Romania;
Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding,
Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bill Clinton; and
oh yes, the Beatles.
Guest pastor was the Revd Jack Van Ens, a Presbyterian minister
who writes a daily newspaper column and heads Creative
Growth, Inc., a conservative religious-based organization
that (according to its website) "builds awareness and
understanding of historic American values and virtues through
up-to-date and down-to-earth dramatic stories." Pastor
Van Ens was assisted by the Revd Linda Marshall, minister
of nurture; and the Revd Miriam Slejko, minister of discipleship.
Also participating were Kathy Gibb, director of children's
ministry; Lee Anderson, care coordinator; and several musicians.
The date & time:
July 7, 2013, 11.00am. [Editor's note: This report was filed
August 15, 2013.]
What was the name of
How full was the building?
The building was about 70 per cent full. There were more than
50 choristers in the choir loft. The sanctuary was full enough
to feel like a comfortable community, but not so full as to
be crowded. Every age group was represented, but I think the
middle aged and older group was the largest.
Did anyone welcome you
Two ladies greeted us warmly outside of the building, and
gave me directions to the elevator after seeing my cane. A
friendly usher gave us a bulletin and information sheet. Others
smiled and said hello.
Was your pew comfortable?
Our tallest party member was cramped at her seat in front
of the hymn rack. After we traded places, my short legs were
just fine in that spot. I hope we didn't entertain too many
folks playing musical pews!
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a lot of friendly greeting going on. These people
seemed to be very happy to be in the house of the Lord. As
we settled into our seats, there was a special treat: the
organist and a guest organist played an organ duet. The chancel
choir then sang an a cappella choral welcome from
the back of the sanctuary.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"Good morning. Welcome to worship at Trinity."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, and the
1989 United Methodist Hymnal.
What musical instruments
An 83 rank Frank and Hilborne Roosevelt organ, opus 380, which
was installed in 1888. A lovely instrument! The Roosevelts,
cousins of Theodore Roosevelt, were pioneers of innovation
in organ building, including the use of electric action. A
1911 model B Steinway grand piano was used to accompany the
choir. It had recently been refurbished and is a real beauty!
Unfortunately, it didn't seem to have a lot of "guts",
but perhaps the accompanist (who played very well) was trying
to play softly. There was also a flute ensemble.
Did anything distract
My distraction was my own. I found myself looking everywhere,
taking in the details of this beautiful building. The only
distraction not caused in my own head was the drastic and
quick dimming of the lights during the pastoral prayer, and
when they brightened again after the choir's anthem.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
This was a traditional service, but it was definitely not
stiff. There was a very discernible feeling of family and
dare I say love?
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
10 This was not your typical style of preaching, even
if not completely unknown! Dr Van Ens was dressed as the 18th
century Presbyterian minister Jonathan Edwards, whose fire-and-brimstone
sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is
regarded as one of the classics of early American literature.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
Jonathan Edwards oops, I mean Dr Van Ens gave
a little history of the early 18th century religious revival
movement known as the Great Awakening, which happened "two
score years before the American Revolution". His main point
was to let us know that God thinks highly of us. We are the
apple of God's eye.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Being a part of this community of faith filled me with joy!
I can't help but think that this is a taste of what we will
experience in that sweet by and by. And a humorous note: Dr
Van Ens, dressed in his Jonathan Edwards costume, was speaking
at one point to a group of children and asked them who they
thought he was. "I know!" one child piped up. "You're
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I really hate to say this (sigh). The postlude was another
organ duet: The Stars and Stripes Forever by John
Philip Sousa (arranged by Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault.)
It sounded, erm, unpracticed. It fell apart several times,
and was difficult for me (as an organist) to listen to.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Actually, I wanted (blush) to
look at the organ, so I practically ran to the front of the
church to question the organist (and to hope that I could
put my fingers on the thing, but that didn't happen). My companions
were happily shepherded away on a tour of the church, and
I was still talking to the organist when they came back. So,
none of us felt lost at all!
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
They had coffee in the Trinity Cafe, but I never made it there.
The pull of the Roosevelt organ, you know!
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 It would be a very long commute for me, but I would
have no problem returning to worship at Trinity the next time
I'm in Denver.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
Very glad! Being with God's people is such a great way to
start the day!
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sparkly Uncle Sam hat on the organ console (see photo
above). Make of that what you will!
|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.