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868: St Luke, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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St Luke, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Mystery Worshipper: The Vicar.
The church: Parish of St Luke, Osborne Village, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Denomination: Anglican Church of Canada.
The building: The building is Gothic in style, 100 years old, and would probably seat at least 300 in the nave. It has a traditional divided chancel with choir stalls and an east-facing high altar. The church has some very nice stained glass windows.
The church: It is one of Winnipeg's older Anglican parishes and is considered to have some of the more traditional liturgy, music and ceremonial in the city.
The neighbourhood: The church is located in Osborne Village, a trendy and diverse part of Winnipeg, with luxury townhouse and highrise condominiums and apartments nearby, as well as single family homes, restaurants, lounges and shops. In fairly close proximity are more modest accomodations. In terms of population density, it is one of the most densely populated parts of Winnipeg.
The cast: Officiant: Rev. Robert L. Brownlie, assisted by a lay reader. Choirmaster: Keith Tinsley Guest Organist: Lottie Enns-Braun.
What was the name of the service?
Choral Evensong for Pentecost. It was a celebration of the centenary of the church building (the parish itself is somewhat older).

How full was the building?
About half full, with probably about 150-160 in the congregation. It was a good-sized crowd for evensong in Winnipeg, particularly given that the weather was very wet and rainy.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were met at the door by the rector, Rev. Brownlie. A sidesman smiled, said hello and asked us to sign the guestbook as he handed us a leaflet and a Book of Common Prayer.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was quite comfortable. Basically a standard traditional wooden pew and a cushioned kneeler.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Mostly quiet with hushed conversations as is normally the case in most Anglican churches I have attended. The one exception was our pewmate (non-Anglican) who visited with one of our party in a fairly audible voice to those of us around her.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Will you stand please?" Spoken by the rector from the back of the church, just prior to leading in the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, the Hon. Peter Liba, his wife Shirley, and the aide-de-camp. The actual first words of the service (following a choral introit – Tallis's "If Ye Love Me") were: "The Lord is in his holy temple. Let the whole earth worship before him."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer, and the 1971 Anglican Church of Canada/United Church of Canada hymn book.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ, very well played by the guest organist.

Did anything distract you?
Not particularly, although the church had held a floral festival the previous day and many of the arrangements were still in the church, filling it with beautiful sights and smells. Still, it was a good kind of distraction.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was traditional Anglican evensong, with the music well done, the liturgy and ceremonial done with a fair bit of care. (I would have liked to have seen Fr. Brownlie wearing a cope, though).

Exactly how long was the sermon?
There was no sermon.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music, done well by the parish choir, which included a performance of Vivaldi's "Gloria" as well as Rutter's "A Clare Benediction."

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hmm... nothing really, except perhaps the pre-service conversation next to me...

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Given that the Anglican community in Winnipeg is not that large, we ended up seeing some familiar faces almost immediately. A reception in the parish hall followed immediately and we went in for some refreshments. A couple of people, including the rector's warden and a few of the choir members spoke to me, as well as Father Brownlie (who I have met before). If you were not an outgoing person and did not know anyone there, I have to admit that I think it would be quite easy to stand around for awhile before someone would take notice of you. There appeared to be a good camaraderie among parishioners, and as a result, I get the sense that newcomers might not always get noticed.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee was available, as was wine, soda, and a spread of cheeses and pates, crackers, fruit, vegetables and dainties. Post-service receptions are one of several things that St Luke's does very well.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I am already active in my own parish, which is "higher up the candle" than St Luke's, and am happy there. However, if my parish were to ever close (heaven forbid), I think this would be my parish of choice.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, absolutely.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Walking into the church from a rainy, miserable May afternoon and seeing the mass of flowers and smelling their scents.
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