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224: Dunwoody Baptist, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
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Dunwoody Baptist, Atlanta
Mystery Worshipper: UK Grockle & Wife.
The church: Dunwoody Baptist, Dunwoody, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Denomination: Baptist.
The building: I was told it was an ex-Avon Cosmetics distribution centre, but if it was it has been refurbished in a fairly nondescript way. To be fair, the church is undergoing a massive redevelopment to accommodate a growing congregation which will eventually entail tearing down the existing building.
The neighbourhood: Mainly residential with a large number of shopping precincts.
The cast: Jim Johnson, senior pastor, was the preacher. The service was lead by Rod Padgett, contemporary worship leader. They have a traditional worship leader too.
What was the name of the service?
10.45am contemporary worship.

How full was the building?
About three-quarters full – some 400 people. Mainly WASPs, reflecting the neighbourhood, but there were one or two black and Hispanic faces also.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Team of greeters at the door. Ours turned out to be from Brighton in the UK, so we had a good gossip about things English.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, deep and padded.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quietly chatty. Because of the cavernous nature of the sanctuary, the noise appeared to get lost. I spent the pre-service period watching the ads for church events on the two video screens.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Hallo and good morning – at least the Braves won last night!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. Hymns were projected on the two video screens. The New International Version of the Bible was in the pews, which surprised me, as we were in part of the Bible belt.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, synth, guitar, drums and sax, plus trumpets and trombones (both slide and valve). The brass section disappeared after the first two songs.

Did anything distract you?
Wondering where the brass section went.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Middle of the road. They taught us a new (for them) song called "reign in me" which I've been singing for at least 15 years. But to be fair I didn't know any of the other hymns or songs. The brass added a punchy note to the songs and I missed them when they went.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
30 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
This was the first of a series on the "World's Greatest Lover" (i.e. God). It was not all that deep, but had plenty of personal and local analogies. The points were projected onto the video screens.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
When the congregation finally got hold of "reign in me" and with the brass section behind them they got a real Gospel sound going.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The heat outside (85 degrees F and 95 per cent humidity). The sanctuary was air-conditioned.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone dispersed very quickly. It was very near lunchtime.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There did not appear to be any.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – if I lived in this part of Atlanta, this would be my kind of church. I could even teach them some of our worship songs.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The difference a brass section can make to worship songs. I love the big-band sound.
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