Sunday, April 27, 2014

Indifference to Details

As usual, I attended the 10:45 service at St. Paul’s this morning. I noticed several operational/maintenance issues that were upsetting.

When entering the building, I tried using the automatic door opener. As is often the case, it didn’t work. I have complained about this before. (See “Handicapped Access.”) There is a toggle switch on the opener mechanism that sits above the door. The switch was off at 9:15 this morning. I turned it on, and the door worked, sort of. The opener seemed defeated by the striker of the door lock. (I didn’t stay around to investigate this.)

Why can’t the automatic door opener be activated whenever the church is open? Turning it on and assuring that it is working should be a standard part of opening the building for visitors. Apparently, the most welcoming church in the South Hills can’t get this right.

We had a baptism at the 10:45 service today. (I wondered why the baptism had not be performed at the more appropriate Easter Vigil, but I won’t belabor that point.) It struck me that the font seemed darker than it should have been. After the service, I noticed that the two spotlights that are supposed to illuminate the font and the two spotlights that are supposed to illuminate the pulpit were all pointed in the wrong direction. Since bulbs seem to have been replaced recently—see “Easter”—I would guess that their aim was adjusted in ignorance of the purpose of the spotlights. Since we seldom change the lighting in the church anymore, it is not surprising that no one seems to understand how our lighting system is supposed to work. (I am constantly irritated that we illuminate an evening service just as we do a daytime service, thereby virtually disguising the fact that the service is an evening service.)

Two related issues are worth noting. I have remarked elsewhere that having the font cover off the font at the beginning of a baptism service eliminates the drama of revealing the font during the service. (See “Unnecessary Change.”) As we have done with our sophisticated lighting system, have dumbed down the use of our font. Too bad.

Finally, I noticed that the indicator lights for the lighting system—there are four sets of illuminated control buttons in the church—are mostly burned out. No one seems to have thought of replacing them. Of course, since we almost never use the buttons, there is perhaps little reason to care any more. The lamps are very unusual ones, but they can be ordered from the manufacturer of our dimmer equipment, something I did more than once over the telephone when I was Audio-Visual Coördinator at St. Paul’s.

Why does no one at St. Paul’s seem to pay attention to details anymore?

Update, 5/13/2014. When I originally wrote this post, I stated that a wall switch needed to be on for the door opener to work. This was incorrect. The switch in question operates the lamp over the door.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Charlie Appel Sentenced

Some St. Paul’s know Charlie Appel, a former Episcopal priest who has lately been a DJ. He has just be sentenced to five years in prison for downloading child pornography. Details are available here.

Monday, April 21, 2014


There was a lot to like in the Easter Sunday services at St. Paul’s yesterday. The flowers were lovely. We had enough acolytes that flags could be carried in procession. We sang a collection of great Easter hymns. The handbell choir played better than the ringers had a right to expect. Brass, choir, and organist acquitted themselves well, and the postlude was a tasty Easter treat.

As former Audio-Visual Coördinator, however, I continue to be disappointed by the current indifference of St. Paul’s to lighting. I’ll save for another day my general rant about our failure to use our lighting controls effectively. What I noted yesterday was that at least three light bulbs in lanterns were burned out, and some of these were at the front of the church where the situation was conspicuous. Equally appalling and even more obvious was the outage of three of the six lights on the high altar. (See the photo below. Two lamps are out on the left and one on the right.) There was a time when, before Easter or Christmas, making sure that all lamps in the church were working was an item on the preparations checklist. No more. Am I the only parishioner who cares?

Brass players in front of the high altar
Photo from Doug Starr’s Facebook page

Update, 4/24/2014. I was in the church this evening and discovered that: (1) Only one lamp was out on the high altar. (There are only four lamps, not six.) All lights on the high altar were working tonight. (2) The burned-out lamps in the lanterns that I noticed on Sunday have been replaced. I did notice one other lamp that is out, which I didn’t see on Sunday.