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  1194: Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Mystery Worshipper: The Asian Anglican.
The church: Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City, Missouri, USA.
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the USA.
Comment: We have received comments about this report.
The building: The cathedral, a beautiful example of the "transitional Norman" style, stands on the outskirts of Kansas City's downtown business district right next to the interstate. Its cornerstone was laid in 1889. In January 1986 the north wall suffered a collapse, but repairs and an extensive renovation were completed in 1988. There is also a modern parish hall that seems to blend well with the old building.
The church: The cathedral is firmly committed to service and outreach in the greater Kansas City community. I noticed a long line of homeless people gathering for what looked like a hot lunch program.
The neighborhood: Kansas City began in 1826 as a trading post along the Missouri River and became a major embarcation point for pioneers journeying to the great unsettled West. The coming of the railroads turned Kansas City into one of the world's major cattle markets, and even today Kansas City beef is prized as among the tenderest and tastiest to be found anywhere. Modern-day Kansas City has shaken off its 19th century reputation as a wild and bawdy cowtown, and has a clean, green, stately air to it. The city is said to have more fountains than any city except Rome, and more boulevards than any city except Paris.
The cast: The Rt Rev. Barry R. Howe, Bishop of West Missouri, was the celebrant, but he was not listed in the service booklet. The Very Rev. Terry White, dean of the cathedral, was the homilist. There was a supporting cast of an unnamed deacon and two priests.
The date & time: Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 12.05pm.

What was the name of the service?
Ash Wednesday Service.

How full was the building?
Decently full at a little over 100 people

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not a soul was in the narthex. There were service booklets laid out on a table in the back. Pretty darn unfriendly if you ask me!

Was your pew comfortable?
The dark cherry wooden pew was not at all comfortable! Thank goodness the service clocked in right at an hour. I would have been squirming in my seat had it lasted any longer than that.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Extremely quiet and reverential. The nave, although vast, focuses sound well, so you can hear just about everything in the place. There was very little conversation before the service began.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The congregation used an Ash Wednesday booklet that was prepared specifically for the day. The 1982 Hymnal and 1979 Prayer Book were also available in the pews, as were offering envelopes.

What musical instruments were played?
Just the organ... and that was just heavenly!

Did anything distract you?
The service was just about flawless, I thought. Everyone seemed to be on their best behavior, probably because the bishop was the celebrant. Sticking out among this perfection like a rag doll at a ballet was one adult acolyte who wore bright white tennis shoes underneath her red cassock and donned a pair of white gloves to direct traffic at the altar rail during communion.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
This was extraordinarily traditional Episcopal worship. It's hard to be experimental on the first day of Lent! Very understated and reverential, indeed. I was blessed by it!

Exactly how long was the sermon?
8 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – Dean White basically read his manuscripted sermon. It was OK – standard fare for Ash Wednesday. Nothing particularly new or insightful, but still a solid sermon.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Ash Wednesday is a great leveler amongst the classes. Rich and poor are all reminded of their mortality on this day.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music was just beautiful. We sang only two hymns, but the organ was so skillfully played it made me feel like I was in heaven.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Let's go with the awful choice of tennis shoes underneath the acolyte's vestments!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone made a run for the back doors as soon as the service was over. This was lunch hour in the business district so I can understand. So no one greeted me personally as I looked lost.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee! The place emptied out in a hurry.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – I'm not sure if a noonday Ash Wednesday service is a fair criterion for judging if this would be my church home. But I was blessed by the service, that's for sure!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Sure, why not?

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