Sunday #31 – Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Start-up church meeting inside Faith Presbyterian Church on Blanco, San Antonio
Why this Church?
Proximity and timing! With huge weekend work demands, I needed to find a church nearby, but also one with a service not held on Sunday morning — not an easy task. This start up church meets at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon inside the Faith Presbyterian Church and is less than five miles away. BINGO!
Preconceived Notions about Anglicans
Once again, I have never known anyone who attended an Anglican church, so my knowledge is vastly inadequate. My preconceived notions about the denomination are limited to two:
- Anglicans are probably most similar to Catholics and Episcopalians
- Most Anglican churchgoers are likely English or descendents from the English
Late, late, late – always late. Had to stop for gas before this service, putting me a few minutes behind. Funny, but after visiting 30 churches, I have no uncomfortable feelings about popping into a church a few minutes late, even though I have no clue what will be going on when I arrive. I think the non-denominational and Pentecostal services are designed for those like me — while song after song is sung with people on their feet, latecomers can slip in and quickly blend in. Almost the same held true here, because everyone had just finished a song as I walked through the sanctuary doors and accepted a flyer, as well as a spiral-bound pamphlet (the guide to the service.)
I took a seat on one of the cushioned bench seats. Looking around, I saw people of every age, except small children, which made this service very, very quiet. The worshippers, dressed in everything from jeans and sundresses to sandals and capris seemed like a casual bunch. This wasn’t the smallest church I’ve ever attended with less than 30 in attendance, but close. I think I’d be hard pressed to ever surpass the underwhelming crowds at the Church of Scientology Mission of San Antonio. Weird when you are just one of four – awkward! It wasn’t until the end of the Anglican service that I figured out that most of the congregational responses were derived from the spiral-bound notebook. I kept trying to follow the service from the flyer outlining some of the musical selections of the service. Ooops.
Service Has Begun
As the crowd sat down, a layman stood to read several pieces of scripture. I fiddled around trying to figure out the order of service , so I don’t remember much of what was read. Then, we quickly stood for another hymn: Great is Our Faithfulness. I knew this one…YAY!
Then one of the two white-robed men sitting in the first pew benches stood to read the Gospel. I quickly noted his attire as similar to that found in the Episcopal or Presbyterian church – white hooded robe, rope tied around the waist with black and white priest’s collar under the robe.
Then the lead (interim) Rector named Ed rose to give his message. He started by telling a story about people who lived in a valley that had all gone blind. One day a visitor traveled over the mountain and entered their village, but this man had sight. As time went on, the visitor fell in love with a young lady from the village and asked her to marry him. The visitor often walked across the grass instead of taking the pebble paths, so the blind villagers didn’t hear him coming. This upset the villagers and so they called a meeting in their church to discuss what to do about it. As his fate was decided, the villager hid in the balcony to listen in, where he learned that the people intended to cut his eyes out. That way, he’d be blind, too. That fate would take place quickly that night. The visitor ran to his fiancée. He told her of the villager’s plans and told her that they must leave right away, but the young girl refused, instead wishing to stay with her people. In the end, the villager left without his fiancée, but with his sight intact.
The Rector related this story back to the Gospel by saying that oftentimes we find ourselves in the midst of people who cannot see clearly. If we remain with these people, they will remove our ability to see clearly.
After the Rector’s message, we continued with the Liturgy and stood to “Confess Our Faith.” I noted that some of the words were similar to those heard previously in the University Presbyterian Church, but there were many additional words and sentences. Again, I had not realized that those words were found in the spiral-notebook, so I just listened.
Then another layperson (my word for a person-not-in-collar) stood to “Pray for All People.” This included the bishop, priests, deacons and arch bishop. That gave me a clue that these laypeople were probably deacons instead of just random people being asked to read scripture. I also gleaned something about the religious hierarchy in the denomination.
After that, we “Passed the Peace” where the church goers walked around and said, “Peace be with you.” Less habit-driven than most churches I’ve visited, this portion of the service seemed to last a while and many people nearby came over to say hello, including the Rector.
Then the Rector made some church announcements, followed by the offertory music from a newly formed four person choir and accompanied by a woman on a grand piano. Then as deacons brought the baskets of money they’d just collected to the altar, we all stood to sing the Doxology. I know that one, too!
From there, we moved into the Lord’s Supper. As the Rector stood to share why we break bread and drink wine in remembrance of Christ, I noted a few things:
- Wafers instead of bread – very Episcopalian!
- Two heavy wine glasses rimmed in blue –think Margaritas and you get the picture!
- One colorful ceramic pitcher that is often found in the San Antonio area depicting its Mexican heritage
Then, as churchgoers silently rose from their pew benches and walked to the front with their hands cupped in front of them, I searched my mind as to whether the website instructed visitors to go up front, or not. Couldn’t remember because I peruse so many church websites. I finally decided to remain seated. However, an older woman came from behind and asked me to join her up front, so I went along. I noticed that many took the wafer and then made the sign of the cross. I quickly decided not to do that because I suddenly didn’t remember whether it is cross right to left or left to right. (Going to a Greek Orthodox Church like St. Sophia, where they do it backward can really mix things up in your mind.) As I approached, the Rector said a few words and placed the wafer in my cupped hands, then I moved to the side where a Deacon held out a glass of wine. I took a sip from the communal glass (I live dangerously) and immediately recognized the taste. Oh my….this heavenly liquid is my favorite kind of wine. So why couldn’t I remember the name of it?
For the next portion of the liturgy, my mind Is searching, as I’m so prone to do in my later years. Why can’t I remember the name of the wine? Okay…it’s a short word. Begins with the letter B or P. What is it? Maybe if I just think of all the wines that begin with B or P, I’ll come up with it.
A few more minutes go by in the service when it finally dawns on me – PORT wine. Ahhh…..delayed mental gratification!
<< I give an elderly satisfied smirk and think: Not old YET!>>
Then we had the Processional Hymn and everyone was dismissed.
Post Service Thoughts
If you were raised Catholic or Episcopalian, you’d feel fairly comfortable in the Anglican church. Also, you’d find the liturgy to be similar to that found in Lutheran or Presbyterian services. It was quite interesting attending a start-up church held in a different denominations’ building. After the service, I learned that the church is about four years old and they are looking for another place that will allow for Sunday morning services. For now, I’m glad this one was held on a Sunday afternoon, or I might not have made it to this particular service. And oh by the way….didn’t meet one person who said “BUGGER,” “Bloody Hell,” or hear anyone say “Bloke.” Guess I got that notion wrong!
UPDATE: Rev. John Lohman sent me a YouTube video that gives a fun way to look at the history of the Anglican church. Many of you don’t know that I LOVE CommonCraft videos and this one seems to have been created by CommonCraft.com. LOVE IT!
Thanks, Rev. John!
I’m hoping my weekend is a bit more free next time. I think the service will be a Unity church or possibly Episcopalian. Or I might even stretch myself and hit a Mission Church with an entirely Spanish service. That will really put pressure on my old brain cells.