Mystery Worshipper: Shenton
Church: Holy Trinity
Location: Kew, Victoria, Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 13 July 2014, 10:00am
This is a splendid bluestone church of mid-19th century construction, with a square tower instead of the more usual spire. It has wide transepts, generous nave, lovely stained glass windows, with lots of brass and carved wood apparently no expense was spared in its decoration.
The parish has a family ministry with a dedicated minister, playgroups and a community family network. It holds healing service once a month, and various study groups during the year. Holy Trinity supplies some religious education at Kew Primary School, also supporting the chaplaincy at Kew High School. It has historic links with nearby Trinity Grammar School, an Anglican secondary school for boys.
Kew is a suburb of Melbourne, only six kilometres from the central business district. It is one of the old "establishment" suburbs, with many large houses, notably Raheen, an Italianate mansion formerly the archbishop's residence for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Kew is today still considered as one of the most prestigious suburbs of Melbourne. Holy Trinity is in the middle of a busy shopping centre and close to several private schools, of which Kew has the largest concentration in Melbourne.
The celebrant and preacher was the Revd Graeme Winterton. He was assisted by Pam Hughes, parish chaplain.
What was the name of the service?Choral Eucharist – or so they claimed (see below)
How full was the building?
Only about 45 people attended, looking sparse in the large nave.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A woman said hello as she gave me a service sheet. Another woman said hello to me as she sat in the pew in front of me, as did a man sitting nearby.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, if a hard pew can be comfortable it's what I'm used to.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
About ten people in the narthex chatted loudly in the lead-up to the service, and people a few pews forward of me were also very audible. A friendly atmosphere if hardly reverential.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The Lord be with you."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Service sheet only.
What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ. The organ seemed to be very fine, well played by a young woman who was not the regular organist, who was listed as male.
Did anything distract you?
Once the service began, nothing distracted me. Only the vigour of the pre-service chat was a bit off-putting.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
This was the typical service of what might be called the liberal Catholic parishes: dignified and lively but not stiff, using the Second Order Eucharist from A Prayer Book for Australia. There were candles and vestments, but no incense. Everything was well done: clear lessons, good PA system, formal but not fussy style.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – The Revd Graeme Winterton spoke clearly and vigorously – it would have been hard to sleep through this sermon.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The gospel for the day was the parable of the sower and the seeds. How familiar it all was, said the preacher; how easy to let it wash over us. This is one of the Kingdom parables, he said, and we often fatally confuse the Kingdom of God with the Church. Too often we are "church people" rather than seeking to explore and extend the Kingdom. We need to have fresh approaches to our faith in both prayer and action, not just enjoy its comforting elements.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
This was a well-conducted and quite lively service, but despite the sermon I would not call it inspiring or reminiscent of what heaven might be like. In any such service, I tend to be very conscious of Anglican respectability and niceness. The singing was fine, however, though the choir was not present at this so-called choral eucharist (observing school holidays?).
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
At the risk of repeating myself, I will mention the pre-service loud chat again, though it was far from hellish. The churchwarden did make an announcement concerning two break-ins in the last week or so nothing of great value taken, it seems, but windows broken.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The Revd Graeme Winterton and one other person spoke to me on the way out of church, very warmly. An African family was signing a large farewell card for a person leaving. I must say I did not linger long.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No tea or coffee was mentioned or apparent, and the room used for these after a previous service (as I concluded on the way in) was not in use. I felt sure this was a friendly parish, however, by all I had seen.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I was sorry not to have heard the choir, but I understand they are very good.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The dignified and lively but not fussy worship, but also news of the break-ins.