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2983: Our Saviour, Tucson, Arizona, USA
Our Saviour, Tucson, AZ
Mystery Worshipper: Listener.
The church: Our Saviour, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
Denomination: Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
The building: They were founded in 1945 and met first at a YWCA and then in a school auditorium. The Koch Chapel, where today's service was held, was built in 1948. The main church was built in 1956. Koch Chapel is small and tidy, with arches above the altar area and a brown and beige interior color scheme.
The church: From their website: "Our Saviour’s has a long history of involvement with the needs of our church community, the greater Tucson community and the world at large. We support several ministries of care, social justice, and individuals." Please see their website for more information. In addition to chapel communion, which they describe as "our early morning service, a small family gathering," they also hold traditional and contemporary worship in the main church. There is also a congregation of the Japanese Christian Church of Tucson who use Koch Chapel for their services.
The neighborhood: Tucson is located about 100 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the Mexican border. Generally speaking, it enjoys a somewhat more laid back lifestyle than does its big sister to the north. The church is located in a residential neighborhood with eclectic but Southwest flavored architecture.
The cast: The Revd Jeff Kallevig, senior pastor.
The date & time: February 28, 2016, 7.45am.

What was the name of the service?
Chapel Communion.

How full was the building?
Three-quarters full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Two greeters welcomed us with handshakes and programs.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews (chairs, actually) were reasonably comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Prior to the start of the service it was mostly quiet in the chapel.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"God is good – all the time!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
There were no service booklets or hymn books. The liturgy and two hymns were printed in the program. Music for the sung Lord's Prayer was not included (see below).

What musical instruments were played?
Electric piano.

Did anything distract you?
My own memory of having heard a better sermon in this same chapel a dozen years ago. Also, the lay lector reading from 1 Corinthians managed to say, "We must not indulge in sexual immortality..."

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Their website calls it "traditional, informal and simple." I'd call it "liturgy lite."

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – The sermon was called a "message" in the program. The pastor spoke clearly but used a microphone, which really was unnecessary in such a small space. His message was a bit all-purpose and not tied to the day's readings, which I found disappointing.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Scripture addresses the community of Christians rather than the individual.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The welcoming attitude of the congregation was palpable.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
We were asked to gather in small groups and hold each others' hands while singing the Lord's Prayer. I did not recognize the tune being used, and no music was provided, so it was impossible to join in.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The pianist played a postlude. A number of parishioners remained seated to listen to him. At the end there was polite applause. Several people approached us and asked us to join everyone on the patio for coffee.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was both regular and decaf coffee, tea, donuts and other pastries. But people did not linger because the next service, in the main building, was about to begin.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – If I lived in Tucson this would probably be my home congregation.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Disappointment that the outstanding preacher I had heard a dozen years ago had moved on.
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