Another adventure over new roads today took me thru Sherman, NY. The road to Mayville is like a kiddo's roller coaster - gentle hills - unlike some of the NW PA roads I've driven that are more like Cedar Point scary at speed. The day began with blue skies but clouds moved in during church.
St Paul's Episcopal Church is on Erie St and easy to find.
The front door leads into a small vestibule where there is a visitor's book but no writing utensil. A turn to the right goes into the church. Go straight across the back and down the steps to the parish hall. Several people spoke but I needed the necessary room which was at the bottom of said steps. When I returned the choir was gathering. I had to move people to get to the pews. The usher(s) welcomed me.
As soon as I sat down the crucifer came and introduced herself then invited me to coffee hour. People were all friendly. Apparently attendance was down a bit possibly because of the weather. I didn't count. There are something like 50 families in the parish. The racks in the pews held two BCPs and one hymnal each. There were card holders but most were empty tho I saw something a few rows down. I didn't investigate. There were lots of tiny pencils tho.
During the prelude the choir and others chatted rather noisily at the back. It was distracting and a little rude, I thought. Several people commented on how they loved the prelude. I wondered how much they heard. The lay reader was good. She read as if she were telling a story - my preference. The crucifer carried a candle rather than a cross during the Gospel procession. They sang something after the Gospel. The words were in the bulletin but no music. The sermon was about all of us being Jesus's "lieutenants" or stand-ins until he returns and that we should not bury our talents. The choir had six people and the priest sang with them. The crucifer was the eucharistic minister. There were no acolytes. At the end they sang something and again the words were in the bulletin without music. That was a bit irritating for this visitor who likes to sing. How about a pew card or the tunes pasted in the hymnals? After the eucharist a number of prayer shawls were blessed then two were taken to people in church. They seemed surprised and grateful.
It is always good to sit down by someone at coffee hour and have them actually make conversation rather than just say hello then talk to a friend or family. When I complimented them on their friendliness they said membership fluctuates occasionally between St Pauls and St Peters Westfield depending on who is being more welcoming at the moment. One woman and I had a long conversation about Chautauqua Institution, especially the Amphitheater plans. The banana chocolate chip cupcakes were sinful. They make good coffee too. And they said they love their new priest.
The windows are bright and lovely. Some on the sunny side were too washed out to post. My overall impression was that the church was quite dark but the windows helped. I learned that they have had them cleaned and reinstalled. I'm soooooo jealous. Christ Church Meadville needs that done desperately.
The priest's daughter was waiting for choir practice and the vestry meeting to end.
The organist was rehearsing the choir men. They are very happy to have a competent organist again.
The church owns the house next door and use it for their outreach activities including their food pantry.
By the end of church, the clouds had thickened making Chautauqua Lake look desolate.
I've always wondered why gulls like parking lots. The casino had hundreds of them. These were in a plaza in Erie on the way home. They did not want to move out of the way.
Yes, I know I said last Sunday would probably be my last new church adventure. I'm a prevaricator. And it may happen yet again. There are plenty of Episcopal churches left to visit tho most are a long distance and it is winter in NW PA now. I'm getting pressure to return to my "home" parish but I'm not getting much encouragement that conditions have improved enough yet. C'mon, folks, step up and get involved. If and when I do return, I will not be doing most of what I was. Where is the newsletter? Who is taking care of the Facebook page and the website? Where are the new lay readers and eucharistic ministers and acolytes? I love all y'all but I believe that church is more than an occasional Sunday morning. Church is a community brought together to serve each other and those outside the walls.