Mystery Worshipper: Stand Kneel Sit
Church: Church of the Resurrection
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Date of visit: Sunday, 8 March 2020, 10:00am
A white wooden building with short tower steeple and two large stained glass windows. Red doors. No large sign outside identifying it as a Lutheran church, but there is a small sign by the doors. The church has a main worship area, some office/storage areas, a church hall with full kitchen, and a basement where Sunday school is held. The main worship area is almost square. There is a balcony where the choir (when present) sit and from which the music is played.
The only Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada church on the Halifax Peninsula. The church maintains ties with St George's Anglican, as the Old Dutch Church (now maintained/owned by St George's) was originally founded as a Lutheran church. The ELCIC and the Anglican Church of Canada are in full communion with each other. The church is used for Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. The pastor maintains a personal blog where she posts her sermons. The church has signs that promote photography and social media, with the disclaimer that photos with identifiable people (especially children) shouldn't be posted unless permission is given.
Located in a residential area by the Quinpool district of Halifax, a commercial area featuring an eclectic mix of businesses.
The pastor led the service, read the gospel, and consecrated the eucharist. The lay reader read the two non-gospel readings. The director of music played all the music and announced the hymns. One of the congregants said the Lord's Prayer in Amharic (an Ethiopian language).
What was the name of the service?Sunday Worship: Second Sunday in Lent.
How full was the building?
About one-quarter full – about 50 people. The congregation were very diverse in ages, cultures, and ethnicities.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. I met the greeter once I entered the main part of the church. He handed me a bulletin and told me to sit anywhere as there were plenty of seats.
Was your pew comfortable?
The church had wooden pews, no cushioning, no kneelers. They were decently comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Typical of most churches: people chatting quietly, people reading the bulletin, some children in the back having fun. Before the service started, there was some prelude music that sounded like Christian rock/soft rock music.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
‘Good morning. Before we being, please turn to your neighbour and tell them what you're thankful for today.’
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Evangelical Lutheran Worship (liturgical book and hymnal); The Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard with synthesizer, played by the director of music. The choir were on break for this week.
Did anything distract you?
The soft Christian rock/synthesizer keyboard prelude music caught me off guard. It wasn't what I was expecting from a Lutheran church. The rest of the church music was similar. There were some synthesized instrument mixes that were a bit distracting (i.e. very synthesized brass and strings). The pastor used a ‘Britney Spears microphone’ (portable flesh coloured headset microphone) that allowed her to move around easier, but I was just not used to seeing that type of microphone in church. In some pews, there was something called a ‘Faith Blog’ – a notebook that people could write things in. My pew didn't have one, but I was interested in what people may have been writing.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was contemporary, relaxed, and child friendly. This was no high church Anglican service. There was a kid's corner portion of the service where the pastor sat down with the kids, talked about different ways of praying, and handed them a colouring sheet.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 — The pastor used the pulpit and had a visual aide (her Lutheran pastoral care book). She shared a personal story that allowed the congregation to connect with her and showed us the relevance of her sermon.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The theme centred around Psalm 121 (‘I lift up my eyes to the hills’), which was the psalm that was read earlier in the service. The pastor said that she finds this a psalm that uplifts her during the good times and the bad times during her pastoral duties. We should never forget God, but rather continue with our faith. In faith, blessings will come to the world.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Seeing a congregation with children enjoying their time at church. The Lord's Prayer being done in Amharic was a pleasant surprise. According to the bulletin, during Lent the Lord's Prayer would be done in various languages by members of the congregation. It showed the church's openness to integrate the different cultures of the congregation so that all could share in it and learn from it.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The Christian soft rock music with synthesized keyboard. There's nothing wrong with it, just not my cup of tea for church music.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Immediately after the service, the other worshippers in my pew got up and told me that the service was over and that I should go to the hall for some coffee.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee, tea, and juices were available. Real china mugs and real spoons were used. The coffee was hot. Sugar, milk, and cream were available. There was a variety of baked goods, including cinnamon buns. The people were very friendly and welcoming; many made introductions.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 — A very friendly church. I wouldn't mind coming back to hear their choir.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very much so.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
Christian soft rock.