My "mystery visitor" reputation doesn't really apply this week. I'm not exactly a stranger when the vicar's wife greets me with a hug, introduces me to nearly everyone in the congregation and sits with me, does it? I've been trying to get to the Foxburg parish on a second Sunday for months. That is when the vicar from Emmanuel in Grove City, PA is there. Today all the pieces fell in place.
The organist drove in after me and was the first to greet me. I asked her where I should park as that was not obvious. Surprise! She is from our town. Tho we didn't know each other before, we did some gossiping. Most of the rest of the people were still in Bible study with the vicar.
A woman handed me a bulletin as soon as I walked into the church but I don't think she was an usher. Several told me to sit anywhere. There weren't many there yet but those who were smiled or spoke.
The church is what I would call the right size for most of the congregations in our diocese. Large enough for C and E but small enough to keep a couple dozen people from being isolated from each other. I immediately noticed that the altar is flush against the wall. The priest asked me what I thought about that after the service. They have no choice. They could put a communion table in front of the chancel steps but it would be really crowded. I can deal with "unfriendly" celebration when there is no option. Fortunately it was Rite II.
The bulletin was minimal. There is a hymnboard but there was no way to determine what Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus would be used. Only the Sanctus was familiar to me. I probably shouldn't be offended by that but I like to sing and don't like to not know what is being sung. If they use the same settings whenever they have the eucharist, perhaps they should make single sheets with the music, laminate them and put them with the hymnals. Speaking of the music, the organist played the hymns very slowly. I'm not sure she knew the Episcopal hymns very well. The "incidental" music was right out of the old little brown hymnal I remember from the Presbyterian church. (I knew all the words and it was difficult to not hum along.)
The Peace is what would be expected in such a setting - everyone greeted everyone else. That feels welcoming, especially when so many invite me to coffee hour. They stand for the Psalm and kneel or sit for the prayers. I approve.
Most sat. They have cushions, not kneelers. Mine was "comfortable". Few seemed to cross themselves. The eucharist was standard issue BCP.
Many invited me to coffee hour and made conversation once there. The woman who had given me the bulletin commented that I'm always smiling.
I was told this woman almost singlehandedly kept the parish going when they had no clergy. The diocese needs more like her.
I love the lights but couldn't get a decent photo of them even with flash.
The parish house.
This is the space for coffee hour. All of it plus the kitchen.
And this is the kitchen. I don't want to hear any complaints about a lack of space. I didn't ask but I suspect the church property is on the historical register which means they can't do anything to relieve the situation.
This is a very friendly parish. They are survivors having kept the church going despite the lack of clergy. Too bad I'm so far away. I say that often, don't I?
Foxburg is a small town just south of I-80 near Emlenton. The oldest golf course in continuous use is there.
Other church visitations are linked here.