Holy Trinity, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada


Info and corrections →

Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Holy Trinity
Location: Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Date of visit: Sunday, 7 February 2021, 10:30am

The building

This is the parish’s second church, dating from 1950. It is an attractive little building of white clapboard. The interior is bright, with cream colored walls, light wooden pews and red carpeting.

The church

Their website states that they are ‘a family church and we seek to share the truth of God’s love … Our vision is to be a beacon of light and hope … inwardly strong and outwardly focused.’ Both in-person services and Sunday school are currently suspended, but the Sunday service is live-streamed on Facebook. They have a prayer chain, Bible study, ladies’ fellowship and interdenominational men’s breakfast (not sure if these have also been suspended).

The neighborhood

Yellowknife, the capital (and indeed, the only city) of the Northwest Territories, lies slightly right-to-center on the northern shore of Great Slave Lake and about 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Once a gold-mining town, Yellowknife has enjoyed a new boom with the discovery of diamonds north of the city. Yellowknife’s economy also encompasses transportation, communication, education, health, tourism, and government. Famous sons and daughters include several noted hockey players and actress Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane in the Superman movies.

The cast

The rector, in cassock, surplice and green stole. He was assisted by lay readers.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Service.

How full was the building?

The counter showed 12 at its highest point. There was a congregation present, judging from the sound of the responses, but I had no way of knowing how many there were.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

There was a welcome (see opening words below), but I wouldn’t call it a personal one.

Was your pew comfortable?

My desk chair suits me just fine.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

There wasn’t any. The link to the Facebook live-stream that they gave on their website home page didn’t work. I had to access their Facebook page in a separate window and hope that the live-stream would appear at the proper moment. There was no countdown or any other indication that it would. When I finally discovered the feed, it appeared to have just started.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

‘Thank you for joining us on Facebook this morning.’

What books did the congregation use during the service?

None. All text (readings, prayers) appeared on the left half of the screen, while the service proceeded on the right side.

What musical instruments were played?

To be honest, I really couldn’t tell. The sound quality was so bad that I could barely tell that any music was playing, let alone what instruments were involved. I couldn’t tell if singers and instrumentalists were present or if the music was pre-recorded (I suspect the latter).

Did anything distract you?

The entire service was a distraction. The sound quality was extremely poor – I don’t know why. Was it the inferior quality of the microphones being used, or their improper placement, or the incompetency of the sound engineer? Impossible to say. I was not alone in my opinion – people were asking in the comments window what was wrong with the sound.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

I believe it was a Prayer Book service, but there was no indication of which version of the Prayer Book was being used. The language sounded rather stilted and quaint. The music was all insipid easy-listening stuff as far as I could tell – most of it was inaudible and unintelligible, as mentioned above. The rector conducted the Liturgy of the Word from a choir stall and preached from the pulpit. The young lady who read the intercessions was reduced to tears by something she was saying, but the poor sound quality prevented me from hearing what it was – she rambled on for at least 15 minutes (yes, she did!) and I was beginning to wonder if the service was ever going to resume. It finally did, though, as the rector moved to the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist – or I assume he did, as the camera didn’t follow him.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

25 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

4 — Mercifully the sound quality improved during the sermon, so I understood most of it. But I thought the rector could have organized his points more tightly.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

To preserve the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and not to change it to suit our will, is a sacred trust given to all Christians. We must defend it, live it out, and pass it on. Faithful believers stand in contrast to false teachers, about whom we were warned. False teachers have brought false gospels into the church, resulting in division. Division comes not from those who follow the gospel faithfully, but from those who refuse to do so. We are living not only in the last days, but in the last hours. The church is under attack. We often hear false teachers say, ‘The Holy Spirit has told me …’ or ‘God has told me …’ But God and the Holy Spirit have done no such thing! We need to understand the times in which we live. Build yourself up in your most holy faith. How? By the diligent study of God’s word. We can’t stand against error if we are not grounded in the truth. We are deeply loved by our Father in heaven. Keep yourself in God’s love – and reach out to those who are going astray.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Sorry, I can’t think of anything.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

Just about everything, not only because of the split screen (text on one side, video on the other), vapid music, and dismal sound quality, but also because of the camera operator who apparently didn’t know how to pan the camera from the choir stalls to the altar for the eucharist.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

The video feed ended abruptly during what I assume was distribution of communion. I closed my browser so fast that I didn’t have time to look lost. I would have run screaming from the place had I not been in my own apartment.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

I made myself some lunch. I comforted myself with that most comforting of comfort foods – a bowl of tomato soup.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

0 – No blessed way! I didn’t feel like I had been to church, even if only virtually. Besides, if these are indeed the last hours of the last days, I probably won’t have an opportunity to visit in-person.

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

I had hoped it would, but it didn’t. I had bread in front of me but I didn’t feel that it had been consecrated via the ‘invisible eucharist’ and so I didn’t partake.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The dismal sound quality.

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.

Comments and corrections

To comment, please scroll to the end of this report and add your thoughts there. To send us factual corrections, please contact us. We also discuss reports on our Ecclesiantics bulletin board.

© Ship of Fools