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1997: Holy Trinity, Ocean City, New Jersey, USA
Holy Trinity, Ocean City, New Jersey
Mystery Worshipper: Inscriber.
The church: Holy Trinity, Ocean City, New Jersey, USA.
Denomination: The Episcopal Church, Diocese of New Jersey.
The building: The church is a fairly plain A-frame design, dedicated 35 years ago. The sanctuary is well endowed with a row of small stained glass windows on each wall, which boast some very interesting designs. One window shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, along with... dinosaurs! Many nonbiblical historical figures are pictured: Thomas Cranmer, John Wesley, and (warming my cavalier's heart) Archbishop William Laud and the "Martyr to the Puritans," King Charles I!
The church: The church was sponsoring a golf tournament on June 19th, and sends mission trips to work on education in El Salvador.
The neighborhood: Ocean City, the self-proclaimed "America's Greatest Family Resort," occupies a barrier island on on the Jersey Shore just south of Atlantic City. It is very different to its more famous neighbor, though. Founded in 1879 by four Methodist ministers, Ocean City still retains its family character, and the sale of all alcoholic beverages is forbidden. Holy Trinity Church is located away from all the hotels and tourist attractions, nested among houses on the bay side of the island. A small airport used mostly by advertisement-towing prop planes is nearby.
The cast: The Revd David L Laquintano, rector, and the Revd Elizabeth Ohlson, deacon.
The date & time: June 6th, 2010, 8.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

How full was the building?
About 50 worshipers were present, filling the room maybe one fifth of the way.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was greeted good-naturedly and handed a service leaflet.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was fine.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People were slowly filtering in through the 10 minutes or so before the service. It was quiet, with many parishioners prayerfully kneeling in preparation.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The Holy Eucharist, Rite One."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1979
Book of Common Prayer and a service sheet produced by the church. The Hymnal 1982 was in the pews, but not used, there being no music.

What musical instruments were played?
There were no instruments, and no singing either.

Did anything distract you?
It's hard to say. I kept seeing, in the corner of my eyes, people sitting down in the pews behind me, and was trying to count them without looking back and obviously reporting on them.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was quite simple, without a single frill. We followed the Prayer Book service exactly.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
10 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He preached on the Old Testament reading for the day (1 Kings 17:8-16) where Elijah performed a miracle for a widow and her son. She had but a small amount of meal and oil, but though it was used up each night, the next morning saw it restored. Though we would like to see what God will do for us in the future, we must trust that he will provide what we need when the time comes.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Taking communion is always heavenly.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I was very annoyed that the modern text of the Nicene Creed was used. The prayers of the people were likewise in modern language, addressing God as "you". These intrusions broke the flow of the otherwise beautifully traditionally worded service.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I lurked around the walls taking pictures of the stained glass. After a few minutes, the rector came by and greeted me, and we had a brief chat.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Not just coffee but a whole breakfast was being served, but I sadly had no time to stay and eat.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – It seems like a very pleasant place to worship.

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 stained glass windows!
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