Mystery Worshipper: Church Ferret
Church: Lubec Christian Temple
Location: Lubec, Maine, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 19 May 2013, 11:00am
The congregation was founded in 1868, and the present building put up in 1892. Featuring one of the two steeples visible from across the Lubec Narrows in Canada, the building sits atop a hill overlooking the town, alongside the Congregational and Roman Catholic churches. The sanctuary is of finished wood, with the wall broken by stained glass windows on the sides and rear. One interesting quirk of the shape of the building is that ushers on the congregation's left must pass through the mud room to get from the front of the sanctuary to the rear.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) originated in the Second Great Awakening (in the US, this was the early 19th century) as a response to denominational divides. The Disciples are generally non-creedal; the only required belief is that of acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior, and obedience demonstrated through baptism. This church is active in the community life of Lubec. It is one of the hosts of the annual SummerKeys music festival and provides meeting space to the Historical Society and other civic groups.
The Lubec area was settled in 1775 and incorporated as a town in 1811. A haven for smugglers during the War of 1812 and the occupation of Eastport, Lubec became a major sardine cannery and shipbuilding port. Campobello Island, the summer home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, lies just across the Lubec Narrows.
(Interim) Pastor Jim DuFour and Clerk Jane Doré.
What was the name of the service?Morning Worship
How full was the building?
The sanctuary was about a quarter full, which is apparently typical for this time of year. As the summer season was about to begin, many locals were taking a final weekend away before settling in for the busy season.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An usher greeted me at the door with a "Good morning" as he handed me the bulletin.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were wooden with cushions on seat and back and were very comfortable. No kneelers, as the church is a part of the congregational tradition. I also immediately noticed the cup holders on the back of each pew for holding the "wee cuppies".
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Friendly folks were greeting each other, and the clerk of the church was moving around distributing baked goods she runs a B&B in town and always brings tasty items to church on Sunday.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning. Today is Pentecost but more about that later."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Chalice Hymnal, a praise booklet (lyrics only, no melody lines). Pew Bibles were provided, but were not used by the congregation. The scripture readings were from the New King James Version.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
At noon (about midway through the sermon) the chimes at the Congregational Church across the road began sounding. To be honest, they were a welcome distraction, as the pastor had wandered down a rabbit hole (see below).
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship style was reserved, but not frigid there was some good natured ribbing of members of the congregation during the service.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The pastor had a generally engaging speaking style. However, his sermon was a bit complex and consisted of four major bullet points with each of these having three or four sub-bullets (no, there was no PowerPoint presentation, but his outline was verbally present). Twice during the sermon he seemed to lose his place in the outline, and on one of his major points he skipped from his second to his fourth sub-point. (Again, he listed the points by number and letter.)
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
As this was Pentecost, the sermon focused on the Holy Spirit and its role in the world. The emphasis was on how the Holy Spirit works within the Church and in believers in particular.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The enthusiastic singing of the congregation, including a number of teenagers.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I was originally thinking it would be the sharing of the peace there was lots of running around and chatting, to the point that the pastor had loudly to clear his throat and ask everyone to be seated. However, it ended up being the sermon itself. In his description of the Holy Spirit, he consistently placed it as sort of a "gofer" for the Father and the Son. In fact, one not familiar with Trinitarian theology would have come away thinking the Holy Spirit was not in fact God.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was with my family (this is their church), so looking lost wasn't an option.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Everyone scattered immediately and no mention was made of refreshments. Myself, I headed to the pub at the inn I was staying at for a lamb burger and a tasty cider.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – Were I to move to Lubec, this is the church I'd choose – in part as it's close to the traditional church of my upbringing, but also as the Disciples are fairly open to same-sex relationships.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes everyone was clearly happy to be there, including a number of teenagers.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The down-east accents during the opening hymn, the refrain "I stand in awe of you" came out as "I stand in awre of you."