Sunday, March 21, 2010

Worshipping in Dunedin

I am an Anglican. It is how I was brought up and, even in Sydney evangelical churches of the 50's and 60's, we followed a set liturgy with robed choirs and the priest wore a surplice and stole. I loved wearing cassock and surplice when I sang in the junior choir and later when I read Evening Prayer. After I gained an Arts degree from Sydney University I was so proud to wear my Arts hood when I preached.
Watching on TV the services in English cathedrals with processional crosses, candles and robed clergy always brings a lump to my throat.

I am quite happy for others to have simpler forms of worship but it is not for me. At school, my closest friend was a Presbyterian.  He was overjoyed to show me a book he was reading which described the Presbyterian church as the church of duty while the Anglican church was the church of beauty.  It was just gentle ribbing as we both shared our love of Christ even if our form of worship was different.

As the Sydney diocese began to become less and less Anglican, I searched out churches where they still used the services in the Prayer Book and the priest wore robes. It was a sad fact of life that there were less and less robed choirs as church attendance declined. I also gradually became accustomed to the modern communion service in the Australian Book of Common Prayer rather than the 1662 which I knew off by heart.

When I went to teach in Catholic schools I became used to making the sign of the cross and recognising the altar and the service of Mass was very similar to the modern service used in Anglican churches.

I have walked out of Anglican churches when the priest walks in wearing a collar and tie, as the anger I feel makes Holy Communion impossible.

It was a great joy for me to begin worshipping at St James, King Street. Of course the main reason was the acceptance of people of all sexualties but on the great Holy days when I attended Choral Eucharist rather than Sung Eucharist and we had a full procession with Cross, candles, incense and robes, I had trouble to stop the tears of joy from flowing.
Even on ordinary sundays when I attended Sung Eucharist, there was still the Cross, candles and robed clergy. I have come to love the dignity and meaning of the Sarum form of worship used at St James.

My first choice of worship in Dunedin has been St John's Roslyn. There is a robed choir and the priest wears robes. There is a processional cross. I am glad to see the church is nearly full most Sundays with many young families. I do not really like the service and hymns being projected onto the wall but guess that makes it easier for many. As an old, single, curmudgeon, I am irritated when parents allow their children to run around the church during the service. However the people have been most welcoming and I have come to know some of the men my own age over Morning coffee.

However I have wanted to experience some of what I missed at St James so have tried to attend the cathedral. On previous visits to Dunedin I attended the cathedral but both times were on Remembrance Sunday so the morning service was not the Eucharist but a special community service.

Since moving here, I have attended on Ash Wednesday and for the consecration of Bishop Kelvin. I attended Said Eucharist early one Sunday in the side  chapel as I was meeting overseas friends and showing them around the city for the day.
Two weeks ago I attended and discovered it was Commonwealth Sunday and again no Eucharist. This was mildly annoying as the cathedral website is hopelessly out of date and did not show this.

Today I have finally succeeded in attending choral Eucharist in the cathedral. The choir singing and organ playing was beautiful. The robed procession was good but no candles or incense. The congregation was smaller, although this might have been an illusion due to the size of the cathedral, and certainly older.

The greatest thing for me was that, although the Dean preached and presided at the Eucharist and his preaching is good, the assistant priests distributed and I received the bread from Rev Juan Kinnear, an openly gay partnered man. I hope one day to hear him preach and, even more importantly for me, to see him preside.

I will probably become a parishioner of St John's Roslyn but make an occasional visit to the cathedral.

I would like to attend a service at All Saints, Dunedin which is more high church but will leave that until after Easter.  It's webpage is also hopelessly out of date and is still advertising the Christmas services. Bishop Kelvin Wright is well in the forefront of communication technology and the webpage of St John's Roslyn is always up to date. I wish other churches would see the importance of this in these times.

I must admit to a longing for the services of St James, King Street but am glad to be out of the Sydney Diocese and know I could not have continued the 2 hours each way of train travel to worship there.


MLBuchanan said...

Brian, my job at my church is the head of the a/v ministry where we project the songs and the sermon on the screens at the front. It makes me pay more attention to the song service and sermon because I have to know when to turn the slides, make corrections in the sound, or know when to put in a video. It has taken some of the traditional church members some time to get used to this.

motheramelia said...

Brian, I share your love of high church liturgy. I miss All Saints' San Francisco' liturgy because of that. Not a single one of the parishes that I have served as an interim used incense (except maybe on Easter). However, they all expected the priest to wear a chasuble and most use a processional cross. As far as music is concerned, I like the traditional Anglican choral music and hymns, but find some contemporary music has a lot to offer. Glad to know you've found places to explore.

Doorman-Priest said...

Settling in eh? Good for you.

Davis said...

Yes, good for you, Brian, but what is is about these parishes that don't keep their websites up to date? Exasperating!!!