Mystery Worshipper: Galadriel
Church: Holy Trinity
Location: Picton, New Zealand
Date of visit: Sunday, 27 January 2013, 9:00am
A simple stone building, with a tower to one side, shaded by a large oak tree. Theres been a church in Picton since 1863 when on 31st May the Bishop of Nelson opened the first Holy Trinity building. It could seat no more than 150 people. The present building was dedicated on 25th August 1962. The facing stone was quarried from a stream running through a property further south along the coast.
The church serves Anglicans with both traditional liturgy and family communion each Sunday. There's a daughter church in a more remote community further north.
Picton is a small town on South Island, and is in fact the main link between South and North Island via its ferry service and a rail line that runs to Christchurch. The church is located in a typical New Zealand residential area, with single storey buildings, faced with wood or stone.
The service was led by Geoff Bedward, who, when we met him before the service, described himself as "verger and general dogsbody." Three members of the congregation read the lessons and gospel. A fourth, David Brown, gave the address. When the time came for communion, a lay minister called Ruth stepped forward to administer it.
What was the name of the service?Eucharist (Holy Communion) Using Traditional Liturgy.
How full was the building?
Not very full; six or seven pews occupied by about 20 people in total.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was the first there! But the next people to arrive all came over to offer a greeting.
Was your pew comfortable?
Nothing special but not uncomfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Reverent but not entirely quiet; people greeted each other as they spotted friends.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to all! A particular welcome to any visitors to our church."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
New Zealand Prayer Book, Hymns for Today's Church, The Holy Bible, New International Version.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional Anglican worship using the New Zealand Prayer Book, which included a few phrases in the Maori language. Geoff Bedward led the worship well, consistently giving page numbers in the service book so strangers could easily find their way about.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – David Brown was generous with his quotations from scripture.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It being January, the theme was "new beginnings." A new beginning happened 2000 years ago when Christ was born. Even today there are many newcomers to Christ. Are we excited about Jesus? How do we maintain the excitement of Christianity? We have the Holy Spirit to guide and care for us. We need to be "plugged into God." Age is no barrier: older people can still hold the torch to light others. Every new beginning comes from the end of a previous beginning.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The warmth and welcome of the community. Impossible not to rejoice in their friendliness to each other and to me.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Mildly disorientating rather than infernal: I struggled with the hymns. They were all words I knew and tunes I knew, but the pairing of the two were unfamiliar. I found it particularly difficult to manage the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic to poetry of a metre that just did not quite fit.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I wondered briefly if I would be ignored as I left the church, but after greeting each other many members of the congregation approached me in turn, asking where I was from, where I had been, where I was going, and how was I enjoying New Zealand.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee, though the weekly news sheet made it clear that refreshment are offered after the mid-morning family service.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – Too far from home to be practicable (I live in the UK), but one could feel welcome here. The presence of a drum kit alongside the organ console suggests that other services may be more upbeat, offering a good range of worship to meet the needs of different age groups.
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 friendly welcome.