|244: Westbourne Grove Christian Fellowship, Notting Hill, West London, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Bee.
The church: Westbourne Grove Christian Fellowship, Notting Hill, West London, England.
Denomination: Salt & Light Ministries.
The building: Traditional Victorian stone church. The interior is very sparse and showing signs of wear and tear. There are no fixtures except for a large, unused-looking organ dominating the front.
The neighbourhood: Residential area with a number of small shops nearby. Close to Portobello Road Market.
The cast: Chris Thackery.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Morning Service.
How full was the building?
About half (30) of the seats were filled.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Someone came over, after I'd sat down, to welcome me. Then a couple sat next to me and chatted briefly.
Was your pew comfortable?
Run of the mill plastic chair. Okay.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very informal. People chatted and children played. The service started about 10 minutes late.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome. We have a few visitors today."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The New International Version of the Bible. The words of the songs were on an overhead projector.
What musical instruments were played?
Guitar, bass guitar and trombone.
Did anything distract you?
A baby crawling by my feet was a pleasant distraction.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Best described as a happy-clappy charismatic service.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
There was no sermon. Instead, we were asked by a guy called John to get into four groups.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The four groups were each given different encounters with Jesus and ask to report on: Who took the initiative? What were the obstacles? What did Jesus do? What questions were asked? The aim was to prepare for the afternoon's Ice Cream Party for the local community and enable the regular members of the congregation to encounter seekers and non-believers at the party.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music and praise. Most of the songs were new to me some written "in-house" and I found this very refeshing.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The thought of breaking into groups. The reality wasn't so bad.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The woman sitting next to me in my group chatted for a while. Then when I stood around, coffee in hand, it didn't take long for the minister's wife to approach me.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Instant. Served with a smile and a very nice cookie.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 I liked the informality of the service for a change, and enjoyed the friendliness of a small congregation. But, being an Anglican at heart, I'm not sure if I'd like the unstructured approach every week.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes it did. Particularly the music.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Andre, who is a very gifted musician and played the trombone beautifully.