|103: Stoneleigh Bible Week, Coventry, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Polycarp the Elder.
The church: Stoneleigh Bible Week, Coventry, England (not a single church, but actually 200 different churches mostly from the UK).
Denomination: New Frontiers International.
The building: A cattle shed, because the Bible Week is held in the National Agricultural Centre. The main meeting is in a large hall that for 50 weeks of the year is an actual cattle shed (with real cows... and the rest!). The hall, which holds 8,000 people, is suitably washed down and cleaned up with carpets and chairs and the odd banner added with a large stage at the front.
The neighbourhood: The next-door building (an exhibition hall) holds an overflow of 4,000 people in relative comfort. The Natioanl Agricultural Centre is on the edge of Coventry.
The cast: The preacher was Terry Virgo. Others taking part included Simon Petit, Dave Holden, Dave Devenish and Duncan Watkinson.
What was the name of the service?
7.00pm Evening Meeting.
How full was the building?
The main hall (the cattle shed) was packed with virtually no free seats. The exhibition hall (technically the "overflow") was about 70 per cent full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. Several stewards on the way in and the people we sat next to spoke to us.
Was your pew comfortable?
Not so much a pew as a burgundy-coloured folding plastic chair not that comfy, quite squeaky and quite closely packed in.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Buzzing! The sheer number of people was overwhelming. Most were wearing shorts and t-shirts because of the hot weather. The band were playing before the meeting started with lots of people joining in.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Would you like to stand up and find a seat... ohh errr... everyone stand near a seat."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books. All the words for the songs, plus some announcements, were on close circuit TV monitors and video walls around the room. Most people at the meeting brought their own Bible.
What musical instruments were played?
Acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboard, synth, drums, vocals plus a backing choir.
Did anything distract you?
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very happy and fairly clappy. I spotted some flags and streamers, but no tambourines!