|90: St Hilary, Trowbridge, Cardiff, Wales|
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Mystery Worshipper: Esmerelda Beakin.
The church: St Hilary, Trowbridge Mawr, Cardiff, Wales.
Denomination: Church in Wales.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.
The building: A dreary, prefabricated building on the outside, but inside, an Anglo-Catholic interior which is light, spacious and with good atmosphere for liturgy.
The neighbourhood: St Hilary's started out as the "daughter" church to St Augustine, Rumney, to serve the new council estates of Lower Rumney and Trowbridge in 1959. The surrounding area is very run down with a high crime rate, drugs and prostitution. The church has a loyal congregation of around 30 worshippers, including young and old.
The cast: Rev Tom Wood (priest in charge), Bishop Rowan Williams (preacher).
What was the name of the service?
Evening Prayer, Blessing of Outside Calvary and Benediction.
How full was the building?
Full there were parishioners from the neighbouring churches of St Augustine, Rumney, and St Dyfrig, Llanrumney.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes I'm an occasional visitor here. Most of the regular worshippers know me, so I felt at home and sat happily in the back row.
Was your pew comfortable?
No, it was an uncomfortable, upright chair.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Happy, with people greeting each other. There was also an air of excitement because the bishop was there.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The angel of the Lotd brought tidings unto Mary..." (the opening words of the Angelus).
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A printed booklet produced for the occasion.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The smell of something that smelt suspiciously like marijuana wafting through the open window (I don't think it was the incense), and motorbikes roaring up and down outside.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Dignified, but joyful and relaxed. Two young girls were acolytes for the first time and conducted themselves with cool dignity. There was plenty of smoke in the sanctuary and a feeling of awe when the bishop celebrated the benediction.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
About 10 minutes.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 he is always excellent!
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The reality of Christ in the eucharist, in the here and now. What matters is what God has done and is doing in the darkest and most hopeless places.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
All of it. I was aware of Christ being present in those around me, through their warmth and in the enthusiastic way they celebrated the liturgy.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't. Lots of people talked with me and wanted to know when I was coming again.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
As it was a special occasion, we had lots of food and wine (or coffee, tea and squash).
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 if I lived in the area.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Bishop Rowan's sermon.