Posted by: scribe9 | November 29, 2009

Another St. Andrew’s

My home church in Portland is St. Andrew’s Presbyterian. Here in Whangarei, the closest Presbyterian church is St. Andrews Uniting Church, a joint parish of Presbyterians and Methodists, no doubt because mainline churches have shrunk. No problem–I grew up Methodist, and the Presbyterian pastor I know best assures me that I’m still relentlessly Methodist.

The sanctuary is in a classic white frame building with gothic windows along the sides and in the back. The communion table, lectern, and pulpit are Victorian, I’d guess, but part of the front wall has been painted white, for projecting song lyrics, announcements, and the like even during the traditional service, the one I prefer.

The hymnal is the Church of Scotland’s.  It has all the psalms, followed by the words, but not the music, to hymns. Thank goodness a lot of the hymn tunes are familiar, and many are Wesley hymns. There are some American hymns. This morning we sang one by Oliver Wendell Holmes–I hadn’t realized he’d written one. I stumbled across two versions of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” but the usual second verse about “the watchfires of a hundred circling camps” was omitted, I’d guess because it’s too strong a reference to the Civil War for Europeans to want to sing.

I’m surprised that the service includes no Confession and no Lord’s Prayer, although I’ve been in one US Presbyterian church that omitted them.

Naturally, mission’s important; this morning three high schoolers spoke about their coming month trip to Thailand.

After the service, coffee and tea are served in the fellowship hall. I introduced myself to a couple of people and got invited to a small group’s barbecue on Wednesday. I met a couple of native Kiwis, but also an Englishman, a Dutchman, and a Scot who grew up in Zimbabwe. Expats everywhere!

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