Well, for various reasons mostly surrounding the children’s program, we decided that the Anglican church we’ve been attending probably isn’t the place for us. We haven’t ruled it out down the road, but feel it’s probably best to look at some other places.
Today, one of my girls was sick with a cold so my wife told me I could go to church and she would stay home with the kids. I could even visit somewhere and do some “recon” on it. So I did. There was another Anglican parish in town so I decided to go visit it today. From what I could see on their website, it appeared to be more traditional than the one we had been going to. But I was intrigued and headed out in the 20-degree weather to check the place out.
It’s funny. All this time as I’ve been blogging about coming to love liturgy and hymns and tradition, I was beginning to feel like a Renaissance Man of sorts. I thought I had really come to appreciate and get more out of a traditional, liturgical service. I felt more engaged in worship than I had at my contemporary evangelical church. Well, I’ve learned there’s tradition, and then there is TRADITION.
First, the parish is quite small. The evangelical non-denominational church I’d attended before we moved had about 3000 people (including children) there on a Sunday morning for one of the three services. The contemporary Methodist church we’d been going to before starting on this new church hunt has about 6000 in total attendance for all the services they have on a Sunday morning. The Anglican church we’ve been attending the past couple of months probably has about 450 or so. I walked in today to a church of about 20. Now it could have been lower because of the bitter cold, but it couldn’t be much bigger as the size of nave probably would hold 120 max.
Second, these Anglicans aren’t satisfied with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and any of the rites therein. Nor is the 1982 Hymnal suitable. They use the 1928 BCP and the 1940 Hymnal. The language is more “archaic” (think King James Version). The priest (they refer to him as “Father”) spends much of the time facing the altar with his back to the congregation. There seems to be even more formality and ritual involved such as people genuflecting toward the altar before entering the pew, many made the sign of the cross at various times similar to Catholics. At some point, the priest even rang a bell or chime during one of the prayers or readings he was doing. It also appears he preaches based on the lectionary.
Now, I don’t want to sound as if I’m saying there’s anything wrong with these things. But it’s definitely another leap back in time compared to anything I’ve experienced. The Methodist church of my upbringing was fairly “high church” (for Methodists anyway) on Sunday mornings and I even recognized some of the readings as strikingly similar today to those back then. And the other Anglican church was another big step in that direction. But this is just far beyond anything I’m used to. It made me realize that while compared to my parents and in-laws and most of my friends I may seem traditional, I’m in the minor leagues.
All of this said, in the end, it’s not the reason that I won’t be bringing my family there for a follow up visit. The preaching was rather uninspiring despite a good text to base it on from the lectionary. And aside from a couple of teenagers and a handful of young kids, I was by far the youngest person there. They don’t have any children’s program to speak of. They seem like sweet folks though and were all too eager to welcome me and even openly state that they really want and need more young couples. Barring some big time change of heart from God, I just wasn’t feeling drawn to the place.
So the search continues. And any visions I had of myself as some big time traditionalist have been been thoroughly put to rest.
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