Today, I visited the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Federal Way, Washington. It is a quaint and simple-looking church built on a slight hill above 312th Street in Federal Way. The back property of the church was filled with beautiful fir trees…mesmerizing from the narthex of the church.
I found the people of the parish to be extremely kind and welcoming. Several people approached me during and after the service and welcomed me and introduced themselves. I was invited to join everyone for coffee afterward. I was definitely impressed with the beauty of how the Lord’s Prayer was recited during the service. I was given a heads up by a lady sitting in the pew across from mine during the Peace (which lasted several minutes, as everyone wanted to make sure they had time to greet every other person). She let me know that they sing the Lord’s prayer while holding hands with the person next to them. How nice! We sang “The Sung Lord’s Prayer” from Beckham and Mallory.
Something else that stood out to me, which I found awesome…they had a visiting priest since the Rector was away on vacation. The visiting priest was a blind man, and I was thoroughly impressed and in awe with how he carried out his duties: with grace and dignity. He walked in and out with each procession, using his walking stick. During communion, as he administered the consecrated bread, he used his walking stick to go back and forth along the altar rail. People reached their hands out and touched his wrist so that he knew a person was there to receive communion. It was extremely intimate and beautiful. After the service, I shook hands with the priest and thanked him for his service. I noticed he had a Harley Davidson emblem sewn on his stole…how cool!
One thing I didn’t care much for (and this is a VERY minor thing) was that they had a projector screen in the nave of the church. Most people sang the words to the hymns that were on the projector screen (without accompanying musical score) instead of using their hymnals. That saddens me, as I find the singing much more meaningful when I have the musical score to follow along with. In any case, I think this works well for this parish…it is just not my cup of tea!
Overall, I found the people of the parish to be a close-knit community who truly cared for me as a visitor. Several people afterward asked what brought me in, and I told them about my recent move to the area. Several of them gave me suggestions on places I might look to live, and suggested some places I might take my dog.