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2846: Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, USA
Grace & Holy Trinity, Kansas City, MO
Mystery Worshipper: Meet and Right.
The church: Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of West Missouri.
The building: A late 19th century structure in the late Norman/early Gothic style. It was designed by the New York firm of McKim, Mead & White, who also designed New York's old Pennsylvania Station as well as the campus of Columbia University and the Boston Public Library. The church was modeled after the transitional Norman to early Gothic style of English churches. It was originally intended to be a parish church, not a cathedral, and so is not cruciform. There is, however, a north-south aisle that bisects the nave. Due to lack of funds the interior was never finished according to plan, and is in fact rather drab. One barely notices this shortcoming, however, when standing face-to-face with the magnificent stained glass from a variety of world-famous studios. Unfortunately, the lovely architecture is largely lost behind an array of modern ecclesiastical buildings, some connected via a cloister, and other nearby structures.
The church: Originally called St Paul's, its name was changed to Grace in 1873. In 1917 the parish merged with Holy Trinity parish. The building became a cathedral in 1935 when the rector was made Bishop of West Missouri; until then, the diocese had existed without a cathedral. Today, Grace and Holy Trinity is not only the cathedral of the Diocese of West Missouri, but also one of the primary Episcopal faith communities in the greater Kansas City area. The cathedral claims to have a large number of congregants who commute into the city from the suburbs. Its numerous program include formation classes for adult, youth and children, family camp, separate Bible study groups for men and women, and what it calls the Rule of Benedict, a collection of study groups that explore Benedictine spirituality (quoting from their website) "for average people of our own day who grapple with a culture awash in the transitory and the tenuous, in superficiality and confusion." Despite being a cathedral, they do not pray the office each day, although they do have daily eucharist. Evensong is sung only on Sunday evenings according to their website, although I learned that in fact it is sung only once each month on the third Sunday.
The neighborhood: Kansas City, Missouri, sits on the east bank of the Missouri River across from its identically named neighbor in Kansas, and is by far the larger of the two cities. Known as a rough-and-tumble cattle market for a good part of its history, Kansas City is still famous today for steak and barbeque, although the cattle markets have been replaced by auto assembly plants, pharmaceutical firms and government offices. In 1919 the son of a local railroad crewman and construction worker, a young man who had driven an ambulance in France during the Great World War, a boy with a talent for drawing by the name of Walt Disney, returned from the war and opened a short-lived animation studio called Laugh-O-Gram. When the studio went bust, Disney sold his camera for a one-way train ticket to Hollywood, and the rest, as they say, is history. The cathedral is situated on Quality Hill near the Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, which is proving to be Kansas City's iconic structure not unlike the Opera House is in Sydney. The Quality Hill neighborhood is one of the more historic parts of Kansas City and has also been one of the wealthier, more upscale neighborhoods for much of Kansas City's history.
The cast: The Very Revd Peter DeVeau, dean of the cathedral, wearing a white alb with an off-white stole that featured a black almost herringbone-patterned design.
The date & time: Thursday, April 16, 2015, 12.00pm.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Eucharist. The weekday noon hour service is held in chapel off the chancel of the cathedral.

How full was the building?
There were two other congregants worshipping.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Both congregants and the dean welcomed me and shook my hand before and after the service.

Was your pew comfortable?
Somewhat comfortable wooden chairs were the only seating in the chapel. No kneelers were provided.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The emptiness of the cathedral felt as if the rapture had happened and we were left behind.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Alleluia. Christ is risen."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Prayer Book 1979, although almost everything – the exception being the lesson, psalm and gospel reading – was printed on a double-sided service leaflet.

What musical instruments were played?
None. This was a said service.

Did anything distract you?
The omission of both the confession of sin and the creed from the liturgy.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
On the lower end of broad-church Anglicanism. There was no genuflection, no chanting of the sursum corda, and no bowing of the head at the name of Jesus. The plain vestments of the dean – and lack of a chasuble – led me to conclude it was broad church. The confession was listed on the printed order of service leaflet but was not said. I didn't see the dean do the lavabo after making the chalice. He missed a line in the great thanksgiving and had to backtrack to correct himself.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – A timely sermon that was delivered well and without visible prepared text. It was just the sort you would expect from a cathedral dean.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The dean drew upon the life of Molly Brant, also known as Mary Brant, who is commemorated by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada on this particular day. Brant, a Mohawk Indian woman, sided with the British during the American Revolution and was forced to flee to Canada, where she served as an intermediary between the British and the Iroquois Indian nation. The dean said that you never know when God will use you, including in challenging circumstances.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Honestly, nothing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Between the lack of congregants and the broad church emptiness of the liturgy, plus omission of the confession, it felt as if everyone was just going through the motions. Also, call it a pet peeve, but I expect a liberal use of hand sanitizer after the exchange of the peace and before handling the communion elements, especially if the lavabo is going to be omitted too.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I had a chat with the dean about the cathedral itself as well as Anglicanism/Episcopalianism in the Kansas City area. the dean described the cathedral congregation as "diverse and broad."

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 – I wouldn't attend again, unless future services were faithful to the liturgy without key omissions that undermine the very purpose of holy communion.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
No.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
No hand washing, please, we're broad church.
 
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