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2972: St Martin's, Davis, California, USA
St Martin's, Davis, CA (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Amazing Grace.
The church: St Martin's, Davis, California, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of Northern California.
The building: Completed in 1967, it is in the California Modern style. A narthex/baptistery with immersion pool was added later. Its primary distinguishing feature is a lovely stained glass skylight that runs most of the length of the nave. The design of the skylight is echoed in the parish banner, and was even incorporated into the celebrant's chasuble and stole.
The church: They seem to be quite active and play host to many important community functions: Scouts, AA meetings, the "Davis Community Meal" three times weekly for those who are hungry, and the campus ministry at the nearby University of California, Davis.
The neighborhood: Davis is in north-central California about 70 miles northeast of San Francisco. It is home to the University of California, Davis (enrollment 35,415 in 2014) and also a desirable bedroom suburb for professionals working in nearby Sacramento, the state capital. St Martin's is on a quiet, leafy residential street a short distance from one of the main roads in town. The University of California, Davis is one of the United States' premier agricultural universities, and Davis is still surrounded by farmland. When the parish was organized, the name St Martin was chosen in honor of St Martin's in the Fields, London, because the church was literally "out in the fields." There are three Sunday eucharists: Rite I at 7.45am and Rite II at 9.00 and 11.00. However, today's eucharist at 10.00 was a combined service due to the parish's annual meeting.
The cast: Celebrant and preacher was the Revd Mark F. Allen, rector. He was assisted by the Revd Deacon Margaret Grayden and by other parish clergy: the Revd Ernest Lewis, associate priest; the Revd Arthur R. Lillicropp, associate priest; the Revd Anne Beatty, associate priest; and the Revd Ann Hallisey, associate priest and dean of students at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Numerous lay helpers were not named.
The date & time: Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, January 31, 2016, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Eucharist.

How full was the building?
About two-thirds full – a good age range, toddlers to seniors.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I arrived just before start time and got a program and a smile from the usher, but she didn't chat because the entrance procession was forming up in the narthex and it was a bit chaotic in there. I was greeted by others later.

Was your pew comfortable?
Not padded, but reasonably comfortable and with good legroom.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I arrived during the prelude so the chatter had calmed down, but I suspect this is a place where there would be people chatting.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Blessed be the one, holy, and living God."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Everything was in the printed bulletin, including the music. There were Bibles in the pews, plus the Prayer Book 1979 and Hymnal 1982.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, piano, acoustic guitar. The organ is opus 35 of Bond Organ Builders Inc. of Portland, Oregon, and dates from 2009.

Did anything distract you?
I was definitely admiring the architecture, including the skylight window.

St Martin's, Davis, CA (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Reasonably traditional: Rite II, organ, hymns, but some modern music.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – The rector preached with humor, style, presence, and insight. I especially appreciated how he turned his stories, which initially seemed like reminiscing/rambling, around to the day's gospel reading and made them applicable to the congregation, who were gathered together in one assembly instead of at the services they usually attended.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The gospel of the day was Luke 4:21-30, about Jesus at the synagogue in Nazareth, where he was run out of town after he did not tell the congregation what they wanted to hear. (Since it was annual meeting day, I thought this was very apt.) The main theme was that we tend to get offended and angry when we learn that God loves our enemies, or doesn't respect our boundaries. God loves people we think are "way too different" for our own comfort.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music for communion included a movement from Bach's Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, BMV 1007, skillfully played on a guitar. I cried tears of joy.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I actually really don't like the whole "Will visitors raise their hand" thing that some churches do. I understand why they do it, but I'm always afraid they're going to make me stand up and speak or something. They were pretty low key about it here and explained it well: "We just want to give you our welcome packet" but the practice does make this occasionally shy Mystery Worshipper nervous
!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I had to get back on the road, but people seemed like they would be friendly enough.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It looked abundant (to give people sustenance for the meeting) but I did not stay to partake.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – If I lived in the area, I would be a part of this community. I will probably make an effort to stop by when I am passing through again.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The rector's good humor, the sense of peace I felt in the place, and that beautiful stained-glass window.

 
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