Church Visits

Visiting Churches: Chris Thompson (stainedglass) is an amateur Alaskan biblical scholar and student of religion, especially as it relates to popular culture. He regularly attends national and regional American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature events to interact with and learn from worldwide religion scholars. Through unannounced mystery visits to churches in Anchorage and South-Central Alaska, he observes how guests (visitors) are treated during this initial church visit. Research indicates guests first visit perceptions affects further spiritual growth and religious attitudes as they search for a church home. Chris' church visits focus primarily on Christian churches. This blog contains accounts of those visits, and related posts about religion in culture. Chris looks for the following in his visits:

•Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality

•Friendliness and warmth

•Effective, well-delivered, Bible-based, main teaching

•Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment

Google map of churches Chris Thompson has visited.

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Chris Thompson’s email: churchvisits@gmail.com

Significant 2013 Church Visits Posts

Top Ten Issues Local Churches Must Address in 2013

Ten Things Churches Did That Blew Me Away In 2012

Guest Post: Why Theology Matters to Musicians

Church Visits: Easter asks for our joy, not our spending - 4/19/2014 1:17 pm

Church Visits: What do millennials look for in worship? - 4/11/2014 10:29 pm

Church Visits: Visits to 2 churches leave 2 different impressions - 4/4/2014 9:19 pm

Church Visits: Research underscores deeper church attendance issues - 3/28/2014 9:19 pm

Church Visits: It's time we get back to observing the Sabbath - 3/21/2014 8:30 pm

Church Visits: Look deeper into Lent than just 'give-ups' - 3/14/2014 10:37 pm

First Congregational Church Revisit: Not Bad - Room to Grow - 3/14/2014 11:23 am

Church Visits: Pastors mark start of Lent by taking ashes to the people - 3/8/2014 10:56 am

My Ash Wednesday...2013

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I'm in Seattle at a Rotary conference and observed Ash Wednesday at St. Mark's Cathedral during a noon service in it's nave. It was a deeply moving experience; a much needed and blessed counterpoint to a self-absorbed world as I moved into Lent.

St. Mark's, an Episcopal church, is sited on the north end of Capital Hill in a quiet neighborhood. It was spawned in 1865, and has been in various locations here, in one form or another since. It's interesting history can be seen by clicking HERE. St Mark's Cathedral - Nave - SeattleSt Mark's Cathedral - Nave - Seattle

The church has beautiful acoustics and is the scene of many wonderful Seattle music events, and weekly compline and evensongs which I've only heard by radio or in recording.

From beginning to end, the service was most moving. It was performed by clergy and laity together. The Very Reverend Steve Thomason was the Presider, and the Reverend Irene Tanabe was the Preacher. The service was a skillfully interwoven series of readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, and the New Testament. Reverand Tanabe gave a warm and wonderful homily, touching several times on some familiar Seinfeld episodes. I could have listened to this gentle woman pastor for hours. Her recorded homily is available for your listening pleasure HERE.

The music for the service was simple, and beautiful. It was supplied by cantor and flutist Brian Fairbanks. He chanted the text of Psalm 51 during The Imposition of Ashes, and then, during the offertory, he beautifully rendered, on the flute, the Sarabande from Sonata in A minor by J.S. Bach. What a wonderful experience this was!

During the Imposition of Ashes, Reverend Tanabe served my section. I noticed her warm, affectionate smile on each person receiving their ashes in the sign of the cross on their foreheads. I felt the same as she served me. Too many preachers, I fear, are stern and foreboding instead of being warm and caring. This simple act went straight to my heart.

The congregants on this cool, cloudy Seattle day were primarily older persons, retired, with some depending heavily on canes or walkers to assist them. There were some children in attendance. I especially noted a father and mother with a toddler in a special place on the main floor with a rocking chair and large rug for the child to crawl upon. There were some business and professional people in evidence as well. What a wonderful mixture for this service! The Eucharist was shared before the service ended.

Normally I do not like the Passing of the Peace but this day, I was close to tears as young and old greeted me warmly with great eye contact and love in their voices. My entire experience here was most stirring and I was deeply moved. If I lived in this churches neighborhood, I'd probably check in here regularly.St Marks Cathedral - Organ Loft & OrganSt Marks Cathedral - Organ Loft & Organ



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