St. Ebbe’s Church

July 9, 2007

Tonight Clara, Sarah, Christina and I went to St. Ebbe’s Church. It is an old, beautiful, and small Anglican church about half a mile down High Street from Univ, on a little street called Penny Farthing Way. I had planned to go to a Church of England service just once before the program was over, if just to experience the state religion around here, but the girls and I had talked about going to church while here and so we may start going when we can.

Very interesting. Only 7% of the English population regularly attends church, and the clergy here would be considered liberals in America. They don’t understand the notion of a conservative right wing, which we seem to think so normal in the U.S. Lucky them. Anyway, we wondered just how many people would actually be at the Evensong service, which started at 6:30. One person mentioned to us that we would be greeted with great excitement just for showing up. Surprisingly, it was almost totally full.

It was a very old stone/marble building in the middle of a block between some clubs and bars. The sanctuary was beautiful, with a very high wood ceiling and stone walls. There were stained glass windows memorializing those who gave up their lives in “The Great War”, and stone carvings memorializing other events and people that have affected the church.

Evensong was rather contemporary. There were lots of college-aged people wearing jeans and such, and the music consisted of hymn type lyrics set to modern music. The biggest surprise to me was the sermon.

Apparently a big part of the Anglican faith is a strong belief in predestination. I have been to many services of various denominations, but never one that preached predestination. It was very strange sitting there and essentially disagreeing with one of the foundational points of the sermon while agreeing with the general stuff. At one point one of the elders was praying about some missions and said something to the extent of “We know that You have hardened the hearts of nonbelievers so that they can’t see Your Light, but nevertheless we pray that You will allow them to see the Light.” And later, the pastor (a very cheerful and well-spoken fortyish man) said something like “If you accept Jesus tonight you can say that God has chosen you and that He selected you before the world was created.” This after quoting Calvin and agreeing that nonbelievers can’t see the light.

It was actually kind of a shock to the system, seeing as I had only ever met two people who believe in predestination and thought the whole idea rather antiquated. I loved the music though. And the people were very warm and welcoming. The best part was the tea served afterwards in a vast collection of mismatched coffee mugs.

An interesting experience. I will definitely be attending service there again if I can.

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One Response to “St. Ebbe’s Church”

  1. O'Shea said

    Very insightful — great notes on your first church experience there. Looking forward to hearing about more church/cathedral experiences! The quaint architecture must have been beautiful-any photos?

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