Church Search Victoria — Sunday August 16* — Grace Lutheran

  • Building: I’m guessing the building was constructed sometime in the 1970s or maybe even the 1980s.  It’s not very old.  I do not find the exterior to be attractive or even particularly welcoming (despite the painted message).  You have to walk a long way up those rainbow coloured steps and around behind the bushes to find the entrance.  There seems to be quite a bit of the building that was just plainly not used on Sunday morning.  The sanctuary is attractive enough.  Wall to wall carpeting does a nice job of dulling out trorg footsteps.
  • Demographics: The congregation was small, maybe 20-30 people. Mostly older than me but not quite as elderly as some of the places we’ve been.  There were no other trorgs.
  • Service: Hymns and organ.  No choir.  Full sheet music on the projector.  No communion this week.  The speaker appears to not be their usual person.  He made bread while he delivered his sermon.
  • Overall Impressions: I enjoy the smaller congregations.  Even though they didn’t have anything in the way of programs for trorgs, they were also welcoming and tolerant of his squirming.  I liked the service and did actually feel welcomed (once I got inside) but I suspect the demographics here won’t work.

* Oops. I’m starting to fall behind.
 

My new wardrobe

Has arrived:

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Church Search Victoria — Sunday August 9 — Victoria Christian Reformed Church

  • Building: Large and (relatively) modern.  I would guess that the building is somewhat newer than the standard issue CRC that I’m used to in Ontario. Or perhaps it’s just the the entire building has been recently updated.  Some of the decisions of how the sanctuary is layed out were clearly made to enable projection.  I find often I like how CRCs look.  Simple, minimalist decor, but thoughtful.  Lots of windows for a bright, airy feel.***

    The basement has a collection of reasonably well furnished classrooms and meeting rooms and nurseries (apparently there are two?).  Coffee was in the lobby immediately outside the sanctuary (probably to avoid taxing a single elevator.)

  • Demographics: More promising than anything we’ve seen so far.  Half a dozen kids went down for Sunday school and there was an additional half dozen in the nursery (only one nursery was in use this week).  Unlike anything we’ve seen so far, the age distribution was continuous.  I even saw some teenagers.  It was still substantially little top heavy, and almost entirely uniform in everything except age.  But definitely more promising than anything we’ve seen so far.

    This also felt more like an actual community than most of the churches we’ve been to recently.  People clearly knew and cared about each other in a way that hasn’t been obvious in many of the historic downtown churches that we’ve been to.

  • Service: Somewhat streamlined CRC service.  It didn’t feel short though.  Just like there were pieces missing.  (Like the whole section usually labelled “Reconciliation” back at Inglewood.)  The sermon felt long.** And compared the the Anglican services that I so liked in Ottawa, the focus on the sermon felt weird.  There was plenty of singing lead by a small praise band.  Nothing written before the year 2000.
  • Overall Impression: After the discouragement of the last several weeks, I really needed to walk out of a church saying “OK, that could work.”  And this could work.  It’s not perfect, but CRCs seem to be predictably… comfortable.  They sing well enough, their children’s programs are good enough, they were welcoming enough.

    The drawback is distance.  We went a little bit out of our way to this one.  It’s about a 25 minute bike ride, and with all the getting out bikes and hooking up strollers, it took us at least 30 minutes to get there.  That’s fine on a nice sunny Sunday like today, but I’m told that sometimes it rains here.

    But.  A solution exists.  I can relax and enjoy the rest of the search.


*** The internet seems to have no pictures of this building that I can borrow for this post.  But look at their website: http://www.victoriacrc.com/ Their interior decor pretty much matches that website.

** And contained a couple of nit-picky things I didn’t like.

Church Search Victoria — Sunday August 2 — St Andrew’s Presbyterian, Victoria

I went to church alone.  This is the last of the big mainlines in the downtown core.  More or less the same story as before.  Big rambling well maintained older building with a congregation that matches in age if not size.

I’m too discouraged to write a properly thoughtful post about it.

Next week we’ll start on somewhat more suburban options.  Unfortunately some of the more hopeful looking options have their family friendly service at 9am.  When was the last time you prodded a family of night-owls out of bed to bicycle across town and arrive somewhere by 9am on a Sunday?  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

Grandma

2008-05-08_193315

When I was a little girl, my grandma taught me to knit.  She gave me this pair of old plastic needles, sat me down on her couch, cast on for me, and showed me how to do the basic stitch.

That first practice swatch was terrible.

That was a long time ago and a lot has happened since then.

I think some of the other grandkids will know what I mean when I say that grandma didn’t always understand our accomplishments or our life decisions.

But she was always proud of us.

She always loved us.

And when I was packing to travel to be here today, I was sure to pack my knitting.


My grandmother died on July 20th.  She was 77 and we all expected her to live another 20 years.  When we saw her at Easter, there was no indication that anything was wrong.

These are the words I spoke at her funeral.


The image above is my favourite picture of grandma.  As far as I know this is the last image of her with her natural hair texture.  For most of her life, she kept her hair shorter and permed.

Church Search Victoria — Sunday July 19 — St John the Divine Anglican Church

When church searching, special services are dis-preferred.

This morning we went to St. John the Divine Anglican Church.  They had a guest choir and a guest speaker.  I have very little idea what their ordinary service is like.

  • Building: Pretty.    I was interested to see that despite being built in a similar time period to both the United Churches we’ve been in this month, the architecture was considerably different.  United churches seem to often be kind of round, with those curvy wrap-around balconies.  This church was straight with no balcony at all.  It gives a substantially different feel.* In this particular building there are many seats that don’t have very good sight-lines.  And the congregation easily fills all the good seats (and some of the less good ones).  The other difference here was the lack of additional classrooms and meeting rooms.  I saw a nursery and a bathroom, but most of the doors out of the sanctuary actually lead outside.  Apparently there is a church hall in another building, and from the outside it’s clear that the old minister’s house is actually connected to the church somehow.  But by that time I was too discouraged to try to find these things.
  • Demographics: This is a large congregation.  Or…It seemed to be large.  Kind of hard to tell given the guest choir and the guest speaker and the baptisms, but I’d estimate there were at least 300 people present.  Larger than I’d like really.  Most of the good seats were taken by the time we got there.  It is full of old people.  There were one or two younger families, totally drowned out by a couple hundred people older than my parents.  I saw a few babies and toddlers.  Many of them seemed to be at church with their grandparents.  I did not see anyone between 5 and 25 and there was hardly anyone between 25 and 50. **
  • Service: Again here, it’s really hard to tell how much was the special occasion, but I found this church to be significantly more formal “high church” than I prefer.  The choir was definitely contributing to that:  there’s nothing that gives a high church feel than choral music in Latin.  Do they use that much Latin usually?  No idea.  I find it interesting though to see how some of the same liturgical elements that made St Albans or Ascension in Ottawa feel informal and participatory, made this service feel formal (and quite awkward with a 3 year old).

    This congregation can sing.  It was really impressive.  That alone could be enough to bring  me back for an occasional visit, but of course it’s hard to know if this is a usual thing either (if the usual church choir was in the congregation this week to make way for the guest choir that could make a big difference to the quality of singing in the congregation.)

  • Overall Impression: Doesn’t really fit me in any way.  Except they can sing.

* Pretty sure there are functional and theological reasons.  I wonder which came first, the architecture or the beliefs and practices.

** I realised on the way home that these demographics may not be quite as depressing as they seem.  If people are retiring to Victoria, it’s possible that these churches get most of their new members quite late in life.  At least I hope that’s what I’m seeing rather than the ageing remnants of congregations that have been declining since the 1960s.

Felt

Did I mention how much fun felt is?

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