|65: St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, Middlesex, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Five pints.
The church: St Joseph the Worker, Northolt, Middlesex, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: An ugly 1960s concrete construction, with separate church and bell tower, which have been described as 'a smarties tube placed next to a biscuit tin'. However, the reality once across the threshold is very different. It has the architecture of a sports hall, but inside is a welcoming, light, versatile and attractively decorated worship space.
The neighbourhood: The church is on the edge of a modern estate. All worshippers were handed an information sheet about how to give to the church's 'Dovetail Centre' project, which aims to build facilities to meet the needs of the local community.
The cast: The parish priest, Fr Denis Bradshaw. Preacher: Fr Scott Anderson, vicar of St Andrew, Willesden Green, London.
What was the name of the service?
Celebration Mass for Patronal Festival (St Joseph's Day). Pope Pius XII instituted this feast day on International Workers' Day (May 1st) in 1955, when he put all working people under the protection of St Joseph, the Worker.
How full was the building?
Packed, with people of all ages.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I got a warm 'hello' as I was handed my service book.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, it was a modern, comfortable, low pew.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty, worshipful (we sang two worship songs before the service proper began), and expectant.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Good evening, everyone', from Fr Denis, to which the immediate response was, 'Good evening, Father'.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A service booklet produced especially for the occasion, with all the liturgy and songs we needed.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, synth, guitar and drums, plus a music group of nine singers.
Did anything distract you?
My stiff new Doc Martens shoes, which rubbed painfully on my heels whenever I stood up or sat down. Why did I wear them to a long church service?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A most intriguing mixture. It combined the richness of the Catholic tradition (liturgy, bells, smells, vestments and lots of bowing) with openness to the power of the Holy Spirit within the Charismatic tradition. We had lively worship songs, lots of arms in the air, singing in tongues, words of knowledge and 'ministry' times, with people having powerful encounters with the Holy Spirit, and some falling over.