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St Elisabeth the New Martyr, Wallasey, UK

Read this report | Other comments

21 June 2014

I'm the subdeacon at St Elisabeth's (mentioned as the cantor in the report) and am delighted that our little church has been Mystery Worshipped. I'm grateful to Torold for a glimpse into a visitor's perspective of our worship at St Elisabeth's, and particularly for the generosity of spirit that shows in many of the observations made about something that was probably quite alien and unfamiliar.

This special occasion was a very busy time, and the service was quite unlike anything that usually happens at our little church. Torold's observations are fair descriptions of what took place on the day, but I think that it will always be difficult for a one-off occasion to give a true feel of what a church is really like.

The Mother of God in her manifestation as Our Lady of the Sign in the Kursk icon is loved by many people, and many of them came on the day in question. However, the occasion was very much out of the ordinary for us, and many of Torold's experiences, I think, stem from this fact.

In particular, it is saddening for me to read that any one of our guests was uncomfortable because of the lack of seating on the day. Our custom is to follow the traditional practice of standing for worship. Our services are not short, but they aren't meant as a physical endurance test. We usually provide chairs for people who need them, and it is a sad consequence of the otherwise encouraging crowd that was present on the day that there simply wasn't room for more seating. (There wasn't even enough room for all of the standing worshippers to be in the church at the same time, and they seemed to take it in shifts.) I'm genuinely sorry to hear that somebody who came through our doors suffered discomfort as a result of this, and would like to give my assurance that this isn't the case at our regular services.

Some of the other impressions were certainly those of a newcomer from a different tradition, with different assumptions and expectations, such as the general use of service sheets, and especially the interpretation of the demeanor of worshippers (which varies even within Orthodoxy from one cultural group to the next).

In response to making our church a regular place of worship, a 5 was given. With the welcome received having been mentioned as something that seemed appreciated, and in the hope that the number would have been higher had the question been "How would you feel about going for a return visit?", I would very much like to welcome Torold back for a regular Sunday Liturgy with us.

Michael Astley

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