Monday, March 22, 2004

I did a bit of church searching on my just finished trip, checking out a small continuing Anglican church. I wrote most of the following just after my visits:

As part of my church search, I visited Small Continuing Anglican Church (SCAC, and the name is changed, obviously) this morning. My visit is a lesson in how appearances can be deceiving. Even though I was only 15 minutes early, I was almost the first one there. I went to Morning Prayer. I don’t know if there were even ten people for that service. There were more, but not a lot, for the later Communion service. The sanctuary brick itself was rather large. And to my surprise they had a big pipe organ in the balcony.

Someone might conclude from the large size of the facility and the small size of the congregation that this was a dying church. But one would be wrong. I found out later that they outgrew their old small building and bought the current one about three years ago. And there was a good mix of ages with plenty of families, including a few who had recently joined. Yes, some of those came from ECUSA congregations.

I liked the people there. They were friendly and helpful without being suffocating. It may have been out of necessity, but I liked how all ages met together for Bible study and coffee between the two services. A couple of the kids there knew their Bibles, too!

I talked some with both the rector and the assistant rector (which could be the entire staff from what I can tell) and liked them both. Later, the rector sent me a thoughtful e-mail. I think English is his second language, and some of the congregation was Hispanic, too, which I like. Jesus don’t want his church to be just a bunch of crackers.

And even though SCAC is small and perhaps closer to the Protestant end of Anglicanism, the services had plenty of distinctive music, liturgy, and ceremony even that made worship special. I even had trouble keeping up at times. One of my favorite parts was the reading of the Gospel. The two altar boys and the rector had a procession to the middle of the church for that.

I also like that the entire procession before and after the service consisted of the rector, assistant rector, and two altar boys. Like I said, small church.

Their prayer book is based on the 1662 BCP.

(Speaking of which, I found a 1928 BCP in good condition for only $4 at Half-Price Books where I played chess later.)

I didn’t leave with the impression that I must join this church. But I like it and think I would fit in there and contribute something. As I sat in the Communion service, I thought, I need to keep that in mind – I should join a church not just to be supported and encouraged, but to support and make a difference in Christ’s body. I think I would make a difference here. It’s definitely on my list of churches to consider. And as far as non-ECUSA Anglicanism, it appears to be the only thing in town right now.

Mid-week, I made another visit for Evening Prayer:

Wednesday Evening Prayer last night at Small Continuing Anglican Church was fun. While the organist was playing the preludes up in the balcony, these boys below her were making noises. So she suddenly ended a piece, looked down on them and sternly told them to be quiet. I loved it!

The service itself was excellent. I like Evening Prayer anyway. But singing the Litany with organ accompanying the congregational responses made it really special. When we finished, I had a real sense of peace and joy. The closing hymn was When I Survey the Wonderful Cross, and I sung it with new appreciation.

Afterwards, I found out the rector really likes chess. So we went to Half-Price Books where chess goes on Wednesday nights. We played, and he beat me! We talked a lot, too, of course. He’s really a unique, approachable guy.

I don’t have to really like a rector or pastor to join a church. But the rector of SCAC is a serious plus.

No comments: