Ship of Fools
  Bulletin Boards
  Mystery Worshipper
  Caption Competition
  Gadgets for God
  The Fruitcake Zone
  Signs & Blunders
  Born Twice
  About Ship of Fools
  Support us!
  Contact us!
372: St Bartholomew's, New York City
Other reports | Comment on this report
St Bartholomew's, New York City
Mystery Worshipper: Nice Jewish Boy (well, 50 per cent Jewish).
The church: St Bartholomew's, New York City.
Denomination: Episcopal Church, USA.
The building: See my previous report from this church.
The neighbourhood: The church is in the middle of Manhattan's central business district, almost four miles from the World Trade Center. On the day I visited, many flags were flying at half-staff.
The cast: Rev. William Tully.
What was the name of the service?
Day of Remembrance and Hope. The service was to remember those who died in last week's attack on the World Trade Center.

How full was the building?
Jam packed. Standing room only.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not really. But everyone was busy, and this was no ordinary occasion.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew cushions in St Bart's should have been replaced long ago.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Real hustle-bustle. Outside were several rather large gentlemen who appeared to be plain-clothed security guards. When one man tried bringing in a suitcase it was immediately (but politely) taken from him by one of the "ushers", who assured him it could be claimed afterwards.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Specially-printed booklet, Book of Common Prayer, 1982 Episcopal Hymnal.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, plus a small orchestra for a performance of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem by the choir.

Did anything distract you?
The crowd. People were everywhere, trying to find seats.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Reverential, altough not stuffy.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
25 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – This rating represents a midpoint between my ranking (8) and a friend's (4). Considering the circumstances, it was certainly one of the hardest sermons anyone could be called upon to deliver.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
A plea for hope and sanity at this time, when so many are bitter and looking for vengeance. I liked most of it, although my friend commented that it wasn't well-organized.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music. When "Pie Jesu" was performed, there weren't many dry eyes. We also had the chance to sing a couple of patriotic hymns, which lifted everyone's spirits. After the "Star Spangled Banner" everyone applauded, although I am really not sure for whom or what they were clapping. For America? For the organist? Or was it just force of habit, since everybody does that at baseball games?

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hearing the names of the many local firefighters who are still missing in action. Also the faces of so many people who appeared to be in great anguish. The clergy all looked as if they had been through a terrible ordeal. Considering the crisis at hand, I am certain that they were putting in long hours.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing. Then again, many people were just sitting or standing around afterwards.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Good coffee and other refreshments, served on the beautiful terrace outside.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – It's obvious that people here really are doing their utmost for the city. All proceeds from the collection were earmarked for a fund for the attack victims.

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 faces of the people. These are the images that really should be remembered. Buildings can be re-erected. But we must never forget what people are going through.
The Mystery Worshipper is sponsored by, the internet service provider from Christian Aid. By offering email services, special offers with companies such as and, surefish raises more than £300,000 a year for Christian Aid's work around the world.

Click here to find out how to become a Mystery Worshipper. And click here if you would like to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Top | Other Reports | Become a Mystery Worshipper!

© Ship of Fools 2001
Surefish logo