Dothan, Alabama—I am watching an Episcopalian choir sing. The music is good enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. One soprano has a voice so robust it makes the stained glass vibrate and the rafters shake.
The choir is singing in Latin. At least I think it’s Latin.
The Baptist churches of my childhood had choirs, but not like this. We did not sing in Latin. We sang in polyester and khakis.
Episcopalians are interesting birds. The “Piskies” do everything differently than the Evangelicals who raised me. They even have different terminology. I have trouble remembering all the definitions.
For example: a priest’s robe is a “cassock.” This comes from the ancient word, “cass,” which is literally translated: the American lead female singer from the Mamas and the Papas.
Some other explanations:
Those in the congregation are not “people,” but “laity.”
The area where the the laity sit is called the “nave.”
The short prayers between the priest and the laity are
And the official title for the man who reads the scriptures aloud to the laity is: “Randy.”
After the singing, a woman takes the pulpit. She is middle-aged, wearing a cassock and surplice. She is not the priest of this parish, but a “curate.”
This curate’s name is Alice.
Like many Episcopalians, Alice was called into the ministry later in life. And this means she is, by default, a person with real life experience.
Lots of Episcopalian clergy enter the ministry later in life.
This is unlike the Evangelical ministers from my childhood. My friend Anderson, for instance, received a call into ministry around age three. He became church treasurer by age nine, associate pastor by age twelve, and he finally got his own Freewill Baptist church three weeks before he sprouted armpit hair.
Alice delivers a very brief sermon.…