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100: St Michael's Cathedral, Bridgetown, Barbados
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St Michael's Cathedral, Barbados
Mystery Worshipper: Two Sheds.
The church: St Michael's Cathedral, Bridgetown, Barbados.
Denomination: Anglican.
The building: In size, like a large English parish church, but constructed with white stone and a corrugated red roof. There was a church on the site as long ago as 1665, which was the year of the Great Plague in London, and one year before the Great Fire.
The neighbourhood: There is a large cemetery next to the cathedral, where a previous prime minister of Barbados is buried. The houses behind the cathedral are poorly maintained one-storey, colourful wooden houses. It looked like the poor part of town.
The cast: I forgot to ask his name, but the Dean of the Cathedral is the Very Rev Harold E. Cric.
What was the name of the service?
Choral Matins (11.00am).

How full was the building?
Practically empty. There were approximately 14 adults and four children. In all fairness, though, the previous service was packed. We came in on the tail end of the 9.30 family service, which had about 300 or more people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, two clergymen from the outgoing service asked where we were from – and it turned out that one of them had lived in England until recently, not far from where we live. Some members of the congregation said hullo to us as they walked out of church.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, but I found the distance between the pew and the wooden rail in front of me too great. It meant I had difficulty resting my bottom on the pew seat while kneeling to pray. Everyone was kneeling, but at our home church we have the choice to kneel or sit when praying.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, reverent.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"We start our service with hymn number 192."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books. We used a printed booklet with order of service and hymns included.

What musical instruments were played?
A massive organ.

Did anything distract you?
Some plaques on the wall opposite, some broken stained glass in the open window, a churchwarden moving silently through the main pews, a rumbling noise which I hoped was thunder.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Stiff-upper-lip, in keeping with Anglican cathedral tradition.

St Michael's, Barbados

Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 – the content was fairly straightforward and basic. He spoke so quietly that it was difficult to hear him, even though he was using a microphone.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Christian giving: of oneself and one's money.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Aiming for the pews in the main aisle and being directed away from them to the choir stalls. When I did a previous Mystery Worship report on Westminster Abbey, we made a bee-line for the choir stalls there but were directed away from them. I thought it ironic that we had to travel thousands of miles to be offered the best seats in the house. It was like the feast mentioned in the Bible. You sit at the lowest end of the table and get ushered to the top table.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The sweltering heat. It was 86-90F in the shade, tropical heat, with sweat running down my back.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I forgot to look lost and asked a member of the clergy if they had any postcards. He offered me one for free.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No coffee.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10. If it meant a longer stay on the beautiful island of Barbados, yes please.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
No, but the people did. It was great to be worshipping with fellow Christians in a foreign land using Anglican liturgy.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The fact that two of the clergy had visited (or knew of) my home church in England, thousands of miles away.

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