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503: St Matthew's Cathedral, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
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St Matthew's Cathedral, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
Mystery Worshipper: Cat.
The church: St Matthew's Cathedral, Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
Denomination: Anglican.
The building: The outside of the cathedral is plain red brick. Built in 1912-13 and designed by the architect W.A. Elliott, the style of the cathedral is late-Gothic revival. The central tower is located at the crossing and is the focal point of the building. Inside, the cathedral is quite elegant with Gothic inspired windows and furnishings, all of which have been lovingly maintained.
The church: Under the Bishop-elect, who had been the Dean for eight years, the cathedral has a high profile in Brandon. Many concerts and events, secular and religious, are held in the cathedral throughout the year. The Diocese of Brandon has 29 parishes covering 100,000 square miles from the US border up to northern Manitoba.
The neighbourhood: Located in southwest Manitoba, Brandon was incorporated as a city in 1882 and is the second largest city in the province with a population of approximately 42,000. The cathedral is located in an older residential neighbourhood in Brandon (old for Manitoba). Since Brandon has a fairly healthy economy and a tight real estate market, most homes in the area are well maintained.
The cast: The service booklet listed three pages of participants, but the chief presider was the Most Rev. Tom Morgan, Metropolitan and Archbishop of Saskatoon; co-consecrators were the Rt. Rev. Charles Arthurson, Suffragan Bishop of Saskatchewan and the Rt. Rev. Donald Phillips, Bishop of Rupert's Land. The Rev. Canon Gordon Light, who had been a teacher of the Bishop-elect, gave the sermon.
What was the name of the service?
The consecration of The Very Reverend James Njegovan as a Bishop in the Church of God and Installation as the Sixth Bishop of The Diocese of Brandon on The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

How full was the building?
Bulging at the seams. The nave holds 600, the choir sat in the south transept, the visiting priests in the north transept and the Bishops and Bishops' Chaplains in the chancel. Apparently up to 50 people had to sit downstairs and watch the service on television. I thought I was smart getting to the cathedral 40 minutes early, but I had a hard timing finding a seat. I ended up near the front, close to the north transept, with my view of the chancel obscured by a pillar.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
There were two young women handing out service booklets and they were very friendly. But since there was such a crowd of people, there was no time to talk.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, comfortable for wooden pews. There was enough space between pews and thankfully I was sitting by the aisle.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was definitely not quiet and reverential, there was quite a buzz – from excitement, not gossip. When the Bishop-elect escorted the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba (Queen's representative) to his pew, the talking stopped abruptly, but when everyone realized that the service was not going to start for another 10 minutes, talking resumed.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Our opening hymns..." Due to the length of the procession, the congregation sang two hymns: "Will You Come and Follow Me," and "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We were given a service booklet which had all the words for the service and hymns in it. The service was taken from the BAS, or as most people here say "the green book".

What musical instruments were played?
The organ was beautifully played, and there was also a harpist and about four brass players. The 20-member cathedral choir had additional "musical friends" on this occasion.

Did anything distract you?
There were two minor distractions. First, they had a couple of television cameras taping the service and I felt uncomfortable thinking that I might end up on local television. During the vesting, I could hear the muffled ring of a cell phone – which caused the two young women across the aisle to rapidly search their purse, coat and bag. It wasn't their cell phone, and luckily the guilty party did turn it off after one ring.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It definitely was not happy clappy, not the style in the diocese. However, apparently some of the visiting bishops felt the service and choice of hymns were a bit "high" Anglican, even though the service followed the BAS and not the BCP. Given that this was an important service, it came with all the "trimmings".

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Even though he read from notes (at one point he began to panic because he thought he had lost one of his pages) he had a friendly, affable delivery. He lost a point because his voice was a little too quiet and even-toned throughout the sermon.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He began by explaining that his first email address had the extension of, which he loved. He went on to discuss how through our baptism we are at home and how we are all connected. At times he spoke directly to the Bishop elect, yet the congregation could relate to what he was saying.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The singing at all times was absolutely glorious. The opening hymn, "Will you come and follow me," one of my favourites, made me cry. The Litany was sung and led by a very professional and capable choir member. There were so many people singing that I could not hear myself sing – that was truly heavenly!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Well, having a view of a pillar is quite horrible. I overcame this by standing in front of the next pillar so I could see the vesting and the installation.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone went to the parish hall. I'm sure most people were caught up in the crowd.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was coffee, tea, drinks and dainties in the parish hall afterward. It was quite crowded, and since it was a Saturday and I had some shopping to do and also a 45-minute drive back home, I did not stay. But I'm sure it was real coffee served in real coffee cups – it is the cathedral, after all.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I lived in Brandon I would certainly make this my regular church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, definitely. The service lasted 2.5 hours and I don't remember ever looking at my watch or feeling restless from sitting for so long. It was a wonderful experience.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The singing.
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