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267: Danube International Church, Budapest, Hungary
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Danube International Church, Budapest
Mystery Worshipper: Eagle Eye.
The church: Danube International Church, Budapest, Hungary.
Denomination: Non-denominational Protestant.
The building: A round meeting room at the Folkloric Exhibition Hall.
The neighbourhood: Gritty urban neighborhood. We arrived by tram, but many of the congregation drove their own cars, apparently fighting with the local Lada and Skoda owners for a place to jump the curb and park on the sidewalk or any other available space.
The cast: Rev. Ronald Miller, Pastor.
What was the name of the service?
No name was given for the service. It was the Sunday morning worship at 10.30.

How full was the building?
The service is in a round meeting room and there were chairs set for about 140. I'd say the attendance was about 125.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. We were with a regular attender at this church and several people came to introduce themselves and make sure that we felt welcome.

Was your pew comfortable?
No pews. Chairs – the stackable kind, not the folding kind.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Noisy, with the song leader working with the pianist and soloist, the general chit-chat of regular attendees catching up on the week, children getting out of their winter clothes, etc. Lots of friendly greetings.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning. Would everyone find a seat please?"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. The text from which the sermon was taken was in the bulletin and many seemed to have brought their own Bibles. Words to hymns and praise choruses were projected on the front wall.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, guitar, violin and some sort of sound board which provided musical accompaniment (gushing violins and a "virtual choir") to a soloist who sang early in the service. The pianist was very talented, the guitarist less so and the violinist appeared to be a middle schooler who played with the pianist for the offertory and did a very nice job indeed.

Did anything distract you?
Not really.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It never really got to the happy clappy stage, but there was at least one attempt to start clapping in time to the music... but it failed to take hold. There was some hand-waving during the praise songs.

Service booklet

Exactly how long was the sermon?
34:35 precisely.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
I'd give him a 7. He stuck to the text and provided current-day illustrations for each verse or new thought. His delivery was robust and friendly, although a bit like an enthusiastic service club member (although that was the idea, I think). He was well prepared and provided an outline of the sermon in the bulletin.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Entitled, "To the praise of his glory", it expounded the first 14 verses of Ephesians, a section that I have never understood very well and still don't, despite the outline and sermon. I understand the concept of praising God in any of his three personages, but the idea of praising the glory has always seemed like gilding the lily to me. Why praise the glory when you can skip that stage and praise him directly? This passage has always seemed to fire up the evangelicals but has always left me with the feeling that it included too many words which sort of overlap each other.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I never saw the pearly gates.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Never got there either.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have the chance as I was with a regular attender who had friends who needed meeting. This is a very friendly congregation.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Non-existent. The person in charge of the coffee was away and was to return the following week, according to the pastor.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 – I prefer a more traditional, structured service, and this left me hungering for the dignity and opportunity for participation in such a service. The setting was meeting-like, but not particularly worshipful, although the hand wavers and clappers would doubtless disagree. There was no altar, but there was what seemed to be a card table with a purple cloth beneath a screen on which the words of the songs were projected. There were a couple of traditional hymns, but mostly praise songs. There was just one brief prayer and no readings except a call to worship. With no music to look at, there was no part-singing on the hymns and no choir. The dismissal, delivered by the song leader, was "you are dismissed".

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. And clearly it made those in attendance glad too.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The oasis of Americans in the midst of Budapest.

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