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234: St Mary, Kerrisdale, Vancouver, Canada
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St Mary, Kerrisdale, Vancouver, Canada
Mystery Worshipper: Corpus Cani.
The church: St Mary, Kerrisdale, Vancouver, Canada.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Canada.
The building: The church itself was described as "country style" and is quite pretty in its own way. The interior is lovely – standard Anglican style, but well-tended and recently renovated. The church complex also contains a hall, offices, residences, a sheltered housing development and, rather bizarrely I thought, a gym.
The neighbourhood: Large, expensive homes in very eclectic style, with spacious gardens and broad, tree-lined streets.
The cast: Presiding: Rev. Elizabeth Northcott (associate priest); preaching: Rev. Kevin Dixon (rector); plus the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham (Bishop of New Westminster) in attendance.
What was the name of the service?
Choral evensong – the opening liturgy for the Annual Conference of the Vergers' Guild of the Episcopal Church.

How full was the building?
Just a little space left in the cheap seats.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Delegates at the conference entered in procession and so had gathered beforehand in the gym (so that's what it's for!) where acquaintance was renewed and greetings exchanged.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, apart from the kneeler, which was of the fold-down variety. Such kneelers are invariably exactly the wrong distance from the pew.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A happy murmur of suppressed excitement.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Dearly beloved, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness..."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A specially printed booklet, complete with full score for the hymns.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ and a small, but very able, choir.

Did anything distract you?
The vergers, gathered from churches across Canada, the USA and the UK wore a huge variety of garbs and there was a splendid array of silly hats.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
This ancient prayerbook liturgy is supremely and wonderfully dignified.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
9 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – very easy to listen to, with a comfortable, relaxed style.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The importance of the ministry of vergers throughout the church, linked to the idea of service and commitment.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Only three parts: the beginning, the middle and the end.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Being photographed so much after the service – simply too blushmaking.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No time for loitering. There were photos to take and drinks to quaff.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I can honestly say that no coffee passed my lips. I was far too busy tucking into the magnificent buffet, complete with specially brewed beer and wine.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – a nine-hour flight each way might, conceivably, be something of a drawback, but it would be worth it. This is a thriving church community, overflowing with warmth and Christian love.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Most definitely. To travel so far and hear the same words one uses at home was a powerful reminder that our Church is a world-wide family.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The muted response of the American contingent to the versicle, "O Lord, save the Queen." As one of them said afterwards, "Which queen and why does he need saving?"
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