|55: St John the Baptist, Glastonbury, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Sir Robin the-not-quite-so-Brave.
The church: St John the Baptist, Glastonbury, Somerset, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Imposing and impressive (largely) AD1500 traditional English church.
The neighbourhood: The church is in the centre of Glastonbury, with a vast range of shops for different spiritualities all within two minutes' walk. As a spiritual centre in the UK, drawing people of many different beliefs, Glastonbury is shrouded in mystery. According to legend, Joseph of Arimathea came here, making the first British converts to Christianity on the site of the Abbey (which is just across the road). He is also said to have buried the Holy Grail the cup used at the Last Supper at a site now called the Chalice Spring, which is a short walk from the church. Glastonbury was a centre for learning many centuries ago, and remains a major focus for the legends surrounding King Arthur, Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. An appropriate spot for Mystery Worship!
The cast: Prebendary Patrick Riley.
What was the name of the service?
The Six O'Clock Service.
How full was the building?
About one quarter full, if that.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The welcome team was most impressive all staff wore name badges, which was a little intimidating after a while, when you realised that nearly everyone in church had name badges on! A man named Bill gave me a hearty welcome with a broad West Country accent and hearty handshake.
Was your pew comfortable?
Not after 10 minutes, but it was a pleasant change to sit down on it because we had 40 minutes of standing for choruses.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very quiet, because of the small number of people there. All the people with responsibilities in the service were huddled together in a prayer scrum in a side chapel.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Welcome this evening to St Johns, on behalf of the church family.'
What books did the congregation use during the service?
An overhead projector was used throughout. 'You don't need any hymnbooks,' Bill told me on the way in. 'It's all on the screen.'
What musical instruments were played?
Guitar and electric piano.
Did anything distract you?
The final verse to 'Amazing Grace' on the overhead screen was written: 'When we've been there 10,000 times.' It's '10,000 years', surely?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy clappy, done in a reverential and restrained way, with lots of outstretched hands and gently swaying arms. Quite a typical charismatic service, with plenty of 'experienced worshippers' getting carried away in God's presence. There was also a testimony of God's healing touch, during which a fly saw fit to dive-bomb me, resulting in a spontaneous raising of the arm and flick of the hand might have been mistaken for the activity of the Holy Spirit to anyone who had not seen the fly!