|145: Hope Christian Fellowship, Rathgar, Dublin|
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Mystery Worshipper: St Patrick.
The church: Hope Christian Fellowship, Rathgar, Dublin.
Denomination: Independent evangelical church.
The building: They use the premises of Rathgar Methodist Church, which is a typical late 19th century church building.
The neighbourhood: The church is located in a reasonably leafy and quiet suburb of Dublin.
The cast: Pat O'Sullivan.
What was the name of the service?
Not too sure of a name, maybe Sunday Worship Service.
How full was the building?
A quarter full, around 50 people. Children and teachers went out to creche and Sunday school just before the sermon began, so the congregation dwindled somewhat at this point.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, I arrived slightly late, and slipped in quietly with no fuss or bother.
Was your pew comfortable?
Typical church pew fairly comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I was about five minutes late, however, maybe half a dozen people arrived after me.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
A prayer was being said and I waited until that was over before entering.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Overheads were used for all the songs, along with NIV Bibles.
What musical instruments were played?
Guitar, drums and violin.
Did anything distract you?
Not really, though one or two babies were a bit restless when prayers were being said.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was both modern and relevant. People felt free to praise, worship and share as the Spirit led them, without fear or embarrassment. To close with, we sang a beautiful arrangement of "And can it be".
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. The preacher, who is from Cork, had an accent which was sometimes difficult to understand. People not used to such an accent may have found this a bit off-putting.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The text for the sermon was Exodus 3:1-10. No matter what the circumstances are, God can speak to us at any time, in any place, and by whatever means he wishes.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sense of community that existed among the congregation.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Almost immediately, someone in the pew in front turned around and we started talking. Surprisingly, this person had attended the carol service in my usual morning church and also happened to share a house with someone who attends my regular evening fellowship. I had a great chat with someone else over a mug of tea. It is always amazing and encouraging how well networked is the evangelical Christian community in a city the size of Dublin.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The refreshments afterwards were great. Tea, coffee and biscuits were served in an adjacent hall.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very much so.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The welcoming nature and sense of community throughout the whole church.