Trinity Parish, Seattle, Washington

Trinity Parish, Seattle, Washington, USA


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Mystery Worshipper: Diana of the Ephesians
Church: Trinity Parish
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 4 November 2007, 8:00am

The building

Dating from the 1890s and rebuilt after a fire and again after an earthquake, it is a traditional stone building with a comfortably old-fashioned interior – lots of wood paneling, c. 1900 stained glass, high peaked wood roof, shiny brass. There is a garden to one side, open to the sidewalk, with offices and a beautiful parish hall wrapped around.

The church

It seems to be a small parish engaged in a remarkable number of mission and community efforts, and called to minister to many and varied groups. It gets a lot of tourists wandering in from cruise ships in the harbor, shoppers and businesspeople walking up the hill from the central city, visitors and staff from the nearby hospitals, etc.

The neighborhood

Seattle is located on Puget Sound in northwest Washington State. The city is infamous for its damp, cloudy weather, although New York and Miami actually average more rainfall each year. Seattle is also known as the birthplace of Starbucks coffee. Trinity Parish is on the edge of downtown and is near to several major hospital and university buildings, churches of other denominations, apartments and businesses.

The cast

The Revd Rachel Endicott, associate rector, was the celebrant, assisted by the Revd Deacon Judy Mullins. The Revd Paul M. Collins, rector, was the preacher. Martin Olson, music director, presided at the organ.

What was the name of the service?

Holy Eucharist

How full was the building?

Perhaps less than a quarter full but it was an early service.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Two people spoke to me as I was walking from the parking lot, and two more as I started up the front steps. The associate rector stood inside to greet people as they arrived. Once I was settled in, several more people spoke to me as they entered their pews.

Was your pew comfortable?

No. It was designed for smaller people of another generation who must have liked narrow seats and hard cushions. I have some issues with my hips and knees, and so I sat at an angle and managed to make myself reasonably comfortable. Legroom was adequate, and the upturned kneeler made a good footrest.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

People quietly greeted each other as they came in.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Everything was printed in the bulletin in suitably sized type, and so no books were needed.

What musical instruments were played?

A very fine organ.

Did anything distract you?

The hard cushion in the pew. A few latecomers.

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

The various clergy were formal in a relaxed sort of way. I had the sense that many of the congregation were fairly passive and expecting the clergy to worship for them. Fortunately the peace ceremony did not involve forced hugging.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

12 minutes.

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

7 – The rector had a quiet manner of speaking – conversational, gentle in tone.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes the whole communion of saints to raise a Christian – each one of us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The careful reading, by the three clergy, of the names of Trinity's dead, many of whose ashes are kept in the reredos or in the garden, and then the reading of names we were asked to remember.

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

Those pews from yesteryear.

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

No one gave me time to hang around. People were welcoming, but not clinging. I was invited to the parish hall – wonderful space, wonderful windows – for coffee.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Great coffee fairly-traded and well-brewed, served in china cups. There were also plates of cookies, raw veggies and dips.

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

6 – Despite the friendliness of the congregation, the worship style was a bit too passive for me.

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

Yes, but then the liturgy and the eucharist always make me feel glad to be a Christian.

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

"It takes the whole communion of saints to make a Christian."

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