Mystery Worshipper: Rhipidion the Sacred Fan
Church: Galilee Lutheran
Location: Kelseyville, California, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 16 January 2011, 10:00am
A midsize building with clear windows giving a nice view of nature and a lake. There is also another building on the property that is used for outreach to the larger community during the week. They have a lovely memorial garden, a labyrinth, and a peace garden.
The church community is about to start a crafts ministry that will include making a pocket size prayer shawl for members of the armed forces.
Kelseyville is a small town about 85 miles north of San Francisco. The area is very rural a traffic jam means turkeys or deer are crossing the road. They still hold an annual pear festival in the town although much of the land is now being used to grow wine grapes.
The Revd Martha Neff Stum, pastor, led the service. Mary Beth Ingvoldstad played the piano.
What was the name of the service?Sunday Worship.
How full was the building?
The building looked like it was about 80 per cent full with approximately 55 people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A gentleman named Paul, who was out in the parking lot enjoying a smoke and a cup of coffee, welcomed me before I even made it to the church door. A greeter just inside the door offered me a large print order of service, which I very much appreciated as my eyes are not what they used to be. Before the service started, several more people said hello. Very friendly.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable padded pews that looked like they were lightweight. They were in sections that could be rearranged with ease.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty. A lot of visiting back and forth. One lady was talking on her cell phone but moved to the outside to finish her conversation.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. The service and music were all printed in the bulletin.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, guitar and mandolin.
Did anything distract you?
A woman sitting just in front of me stood up and started looking around her seat as if she had lost something. When I realized she was looking for her glasses, I pointed to the top of her head.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Easygoing middle-of-the-road worship, with a great number of free form remarks and exchanges between the pastor and members of the congregation. In the middle of the gospel reading, the pastor hit the microphone and stopped to explain that it was not bolted down. Then she went on with the reading.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Good delivery. Had she not told us she was using notes, I would not have known. I also liked that she gave us concrete examples of how we could use even a small amount of time to serve God.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We often fail to do things in our spiritual life because we think we do not have enough time or talent, but God can take whatever we offer and use it. It is not what we offer, but what God does with it, that can make a difference in the world.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The Galilee chancel choir. Although they were small in number, their special musical offering of "Jesus Lamb of God, Worthy Is Your Name" was very moving.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hell for me started even before I arrived. I looked on the church website and found a picture of a sign that read, "Staying in bed shouting 'Oh God!' does not constitute going to church." While I might have laughed had I seen this any place else, I found it off-putting and a bit offensive to see it on the website. It made me wonder just what kind of message they were trying to give out.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People started talking to me the minute the service was over.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – I would move that to an 8 if it were not for the sign on their website. That seemed really to bother me.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Very much so, especially when they welcomed ten new members into the church community near the start of the service.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
How nice the church grounds were. It made me want to go back in the spring and spend some time outside.