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January 04, 2009

The 'English' Church in Wiesbaden

After attending a Lutheran service last Sunday, Mausi decided I should try the "English" Church this time round. Except it is not the Church of England in Germany (Though we do have a Diocese of Europe) but this one is now a Parish in the Episcopalian Church Diocese of Paris. The church itself was built in 1853 as a gift of the local Duke to the many "English" people then residing for various reasons in Wiesbaden and was probably, at that time, a part of the C of E. That seems to have changed after the second World War when this was part of the American Zone - though why the Episcopalian Church decided to duplicate the then existing Diocese of Gibralter I'll have to explore later.

The church building is quite small but rather nicely proportioned and consists of a small nave with a North Aisle attached and a small Sanctuary. The heating system was just right for it as well and the internal temperature was just right. A Gallery at the West End houses a small and rather pleasant organ and the choir. A wooden vaulted ceiling gives a rather "dry" acoustic and the sound system seemed to have a mind of its own at times. The choir, a small one, was augmented today by visitors from the Antipodies and from Texas and sang some rather good music, which the acoustics of the building was just right for.

The service has a form that is familiar to those who use to the Common Worship liturgy, but the words are different enough to trip you up if you stray from the page of the US Prayer Book. We were greeted by having a pair of books offered to us with a service sheet and found ourselves a pew in good Anglican style near the back. The sermon was good, the theme on receiving Christ and revealing Him to the world, well covered, but longer than I am used to in a Eucharist, lasting a little over twenty minutes. No one spoke to us until the Peace, and then only the briefest exchange asking where we were from and in response to my saying "Tewkesbury Abbey" the statement - "Sounds very grand, bet its not as welcoming as we are," followed by a swift retreat! There isn't much you can say after that, so we shared the Peace and stayed where we were while everyone else wandered about and started conversations. Evenetually the Presiding Priest managed to call everyone back to place and began to call for notices, again something I find strange in a Eucharist as we normally give these briefly before the service or make sure longer items are printed and distributed. As it was the "notices" included several people taking time to discuss activities, explain parish finances or thank members for their efforts and took up a further half hour in the middle of the service.

The Offertory seemed to take a longer time than the size of the congregation would have suggested, but then it also gave the choir the opportunity to sing several anthems and the service continued with the Eucharistic Prayers and the Communion. There was a brief confusion when I obviously broke their usual system and indicated that I expected to drink from the chalice and not 'dip the biscuit' and I found myself holding the chalice rather awkwardly and communicating myself! The final prayers and the hymns concluded our worship and once again we found ourselves in a strange limbo as we replaced coats and returned our books, no one acknowledging our being visitors as they all busied themselves chatting with friends - even the priest being busily engaged by a member of the congregation as we were about to say our good byes. So, we let ourselves out into the street quietly and crunched off across the road in search of coffee and "kuchen".

Perhaps the Polish Mass at the Catholic Dom will be our next encounter with a church here - or simply back to the Lutheran. After all, I can struggle along quite happily in German and recognise the bits I need to and can say in English without upsetting anyone.

Posted by The Gray Monk at January 4, 2009 12:40 PM

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