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Please note that we are still soliciting opinions about hymns.

Hallo again to all.

Today we talked to some Anglican friends who had been traveling, and who had attended Sunday worship at a church in a (former) British colony. Before those colonies became former, all of their churches were part of the Church of England, and were therefore English churches. It was the separation of those colonies from the mother country and the formation of new nations that created the Anglican Communion.

Our friends commented that the church building in which they had worshipped did not look or feel much like an Anglican church. We were intrigued, so asked for elaboration. 'It feels more like a United Methodist church. It doesn't seem to be structured for Anglican liturgy.'

We've previously noticed a reverence for church buildings that look like English country churches. The Hotel Monterey Grasmere in Osaka, Japan has on its top floors a near-perfect replica of All Saints Brockhampton in the Diocese of Hereford, and reputedly does a brisk business in weddings there. But we don't think our friends' comment had anything to do with the appearance of the church; rather its suitability for the liturgical activities one would expect to find as part of an Anglican worship service. And we seriously doubt that a couple being married on the 21st floor of a Japanese hotel has any particular expectation of the liturgy. Appearance and ambiance likely dominate their requirements.

We were intrigued, and have been thinking about that comment, and mentally sifting through all of the churches we've attended. Quite frankly, we don't think that St Paul's Cathedral in London is very suitable for Anglican liturgy, but we also suspect that no one cares.

We've been to Anglican churches that don't look at all English, and that seem to work out OK. Our favourite is the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, NZ, which in truth looks like nothing else anywhere, but which works well for the congregation worshipping there. Another is the Church of the Ascension in Alice Springs, NT, Australia. Alice Springs is a town that is 1000 miles from anything, and when you are there you do have to keep reminding yourself that you are actually on planet Earth. Ascension, while welcoming and pretty, has no resemblance to a traditional English church.

Our own church was built 150 years after the ends of the wars that resulted in colonies becoming countries. We wouldn't be surprised to learn that none of its designers or planners had ever been to England, though perhaps they had been to replica proto-English cathedral buildings. They designed a building that pleased their eyes and, we presume, pleased the Rector and parish council at the time. Like most church buildings that we've seen, it has its shortcomings, but we never thought about whether the building itself would inhibit or shape Anglican worship.

Do you think it might? Do you know of church buildings that work against Anglican liturgy? Do they look English? Do you know of church buildings that are decidedly un-English in their style and appearance but that do work well? We'd love it if you could tell us.

See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

28 June 2015


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