|147: Church of Our Saviour, Chelmsford, Essex|
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Mystery Worshipper: Jordan.
The church: Church of Our Saviour, Chelmsford, Essex.
Denomination: The church is a local ecumenical project of the Church of England, the United Reformed Church (URC) and Roman Catholic Church.
The building: Modern community hall with sanctuary and side rooms. The building is 15 years old and already shows signs of wear and tear.
The neighbourhood: The church is built on huge new housing estate which is still being developed.
The cast: URC Minister Jim Thorneycroft. The preacher was an Anglican Reader, Bob Woods.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion (URC tradition).
How full was the building?
Did anyone welcome you personally?
The man standing in the main entrance said "good morning" without a smile. There was no comment from the people sitting next to me or during the Peace. One familiar face came and joined me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Chairs, actually, and they were comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Most people were chatting and laughing. It felt like waiting for a performance to begin, with no hushed expectancy. Half of the congregation arrived at the last minute, and the service started late.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Songs of Fellowship.
What musical instruments were played?
Synthesizer and guitar.
Did anything distract you?
The bored teenager next to me, although generally well-behaved, fidgeted quite a bit.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Weak happy clappy.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
There were two sermons: the children's talk (8 minutes) and one for the adults (21 minutes).
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
Children's, 7. Adults, 4. He knew his stuff, but put too much of it into the sermon.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The theme was surprises (and the Week of Prayer for Christian unity). We all have a different understanding of God, but he's beyond our full comprehension, so we need to be tolerant.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Watching the children being blessed they knelt right up on kneelers and the minister knelt down to them. They were all joyful! The music playing at the time was "My Jesus, my Saviour".
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Laughter among the congregation during distribution of communion.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I spoke to the person I knew, who introduced me to the minister. No one else spoke to me.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no coffee.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 it could be quite acceptable, but the welcome and pastoral care were appalling.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Singing and taking communion always makes me glad to be a Christian, but the attitudes towards newcomers makes me ashamed.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Not being offered a hymn book on my way into the church.