Ship of Fools: St John’s Lutheran, Glendale, Arizona, USA

imageShip of Fools: St John’s Lutheran, Glendale, Arizona, USA

Our Mystery Worshipper felt good about this church even without a 'bony bottom'

Read the full Mystery Worshipper report here


  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor

    I attended the outdoor in-person service this evening. About 25 people there, including a nun in full old-style habit. Otherwise mostly elderly folk. Husbands and wives (or so I assume) sat together, but the rest of us were well spread out. Everyone was masked - fully, no "half maskers" to be seen.

    The format was pretty much what it was last Sunday, except that there was communion. The pastor dropped a host into our cupped hands, and we all removed out masks and consumed upon invitation from the pastor. It was a joy to be receiving communion after such a long hiatus.

    In the Apostles Creed, we said that we believed in the "holy catholic church" (small c). That's the first time I've heard this at a Lutheran service - usually it's "Christian church" although I've always wondered why it isn't "universal church".

    The hymns were for the most part traditional. They wheeled out an acoustic upright piano that someone was playing (very well). We were asked to sing with our hearts, not with our mouths. But most people said the prayers out loud, although I whispered them.

    I felt safe and comfortable. I really do like this church. Arnold Schwarzenegger would agree with me: "I'll be back."
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    That's a liberal Lutheran synod, isn't it? The one that's in communion with the Episcopalians and so forth? Very unlike Lutheranism here. It certainly sounds a very welcoming community.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    Yes, they are in communion. I expect that this church will be very welcoming once it is safe to be so.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Thanks for that confirmation. There is (at least as far as I know) only the one Lutheran grouping here, with only a half dozen churches at the most in the Sydney metropolitan area; they seem very enclosed and none too interested in ecumenical contact or activity. Websites are hard to find also. There are more Lutherans in South Australia, which had a comparatively large influx of German migrants move into winemaking, and also into Queensland.

    Your local church does sound welcoming and to have a high liturgy, a lucky find for you.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    edited October 2020
    Wikipedia is instructive re the Lutheran Church of Australia. They do seem awfully conservative.

    But a discussion of the beliefs and practices of various Lutheran communions worldwide probably belongs in Purgatory or Ecclesiantics. Let's limit this thread to a discussion of the experience I had at this particular church. Thanks.
  • I think we are all pleased to hear that Miss Amanda was able, at long last, to once more receive the Sacrament, and in a suitable setting liturgically.
  • BakerBaker Shipmate
    I'm American, raised in the very conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It is in the past ten years that women became voting members of their congregations, and of course women are not ordained. I left them many years ago to be an ELCA member. Oddly enough, the church reviewed here, and the one I grew up at, have the same name, St. John's. It' very popular.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    John was Jesus' cousin after all, and Jesus himself said some nice things about him.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Mss Amanda, I logged in a few moments ago to ask (amongst other things) if you had in fact made a move to St John's, or is that something for post-covid?
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I have been attending services regularly -- mostly Saturday evening but I did try the Sunday morning traditional service once -- and am still of a mind to make it my "regular", but I don't want to do anything until it's safe to do so. The pastor has been very cordial although I have not made overtures into the congregation.

    I'm a little concerned about the congregation insisting on singing, although the pastor has admonished them several times to "sing with the heart, not with the voice." In fact, I had a rather unpleasant e-mail exchange with one member of the congregation concerning this, although other members have encouraged me to overlook it.

    But the services are held outdoors, with ample spacing between chairs, and everyone is fully masked. I take a seat in the back, near the gate, so I can make a hasty exit if I feel unsafe. So far I have felt safe.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Thank you, sounds as if you're making a fairly traditional entry to a new church. Most people pleasant, one not.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The Parish Council are voting this week whether to suspend in-person worship and go back to on-line only.

    I've felt safe at in-person services, although there's still more singing than I'm comfortable with. Unfortunately the pastor seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth -- he frequently admonishes the congregation to "sing with the heart, not with the voice" but he's been preaching on the meaning of various Christmas carols, encouraging the congregation to sing the particular verses that are his subject at any given time.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The rules here have not permitted congregational singing at any stage. A small number of choristers may sing, provided that they are more than a certain distance from the congregation etc. The rest of us mouth silently behind our masks.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The Council have voted unanimously to suspend in-person services until further notice -- not due to any concerns over safety, but rather to set a good example.

    I'm not sure I agree -- I don't imagine that their example will travel very far -- but who am I?
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The Catholic and Anglican Abps of Sydney (sometimes joined by the Greek Orthodox) pressured the government for quite some time to allow services to resume, with some success. What they did not realise is that many parishioners do not share the same optimism; numbers attending in person remain low.
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    The Saturday afternoon outdoor service in the courtyard at St. John's got off to a good start, I thought, with about 25 or 30 attending at first. The numbers dwindled, though, as the weeks went by. Finally, as winter approached and darkness fell earlier, they changed the time from 5:30 to 4:00, and after that there were no more than a half dozen or so attendees.

    At the Sunday morning traditional service at 8:00, the clergy celebrated in the sanctuary but the congregation sat outside in the courtyard and watched it on video monitors. I found this to be unsatisfactory due to the setup but also to the inevitable technical difficulties. I attended twice, and I would guess there were no more than a dozen or so present each time.

    I did not sample the 11:00 contemporary service.

    I'll miss the Saturday afternoon gatherings, although, as I said above, I thought people were beginning to take some unnecessary chances with singing. "Sing with the heart, not with the voice," we were told, but I heard a lot of voices behind those masks.
  • Difficult times - hopefully, some sort of normality (whatever that is) will be restored eventually.

    Might the 11am service be worth a try, Miss Amanda? It may not be quite as *happy-clappy* as perhaps you fear...
  • Amanda B ReckondwythAmanda B Reckondwyth Mystery Worship Editor
    I would rather not find out.
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