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305: Sacred Heart, Chorley, Lancashire, England
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Sacred Heart R.C Church, Chorley, LANCS, UK
Mystery Worshipper: Woody Slim.
The church: Sacred Heart, Chorley, Lancashire, England.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: This is a very imposing building from outside and once inside I was surprised at how light and airy it was. The church itself was beautiful - all white paint and dark wood. I was particularly struck by the paintings of the stations of the cross that were up round the church – they were stunning!
The neighbourhood: My favourite Indian restaursant is just down the road.
The cast: The clergy of Sacred Heart (RC), St James's (Anglican), St Joseph's (RC) and St Peter's (Anglican).
What was the name of the service?
Divine Office for Good Friday. This was a united service for the four churches listed above.

How full was the building?
About three-quarters full. Maybe 150-200 people altogether.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were greeted at the door (once we'd found it – there seemed to be about seven ways of getting into the church!) by a very polite gentleman who gave us our service booklets.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew itself was wooden (no cushion) and not too bad. However, what made it particularly uncomfortable was the fact that the kneeling rail was always down, so I had to either sit with my feet tucked right underneath me or streched out in front of me – which I was quite reluctant to do, as it made me look like a complete slob!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very quiet – just a few murmurs here and there as people prayed quietly.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to the united divine office service for Good Friday."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A booklet which contained all the hymns, psalms and responses for the service.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
After the priest had welcomed everyone, he proceeded to outline a few instructions for the service which had a lot of people (including me) completely confused. We figured out pretty soon, though. Also the four clergymen conducted the service together from the front where they stood in a line. I kept thinking that they looked like they were on the "Whose Line is it Anyway?" World's Worst step!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
As I'm not a Catholic myself I couldn't say whether this was a typical service, but it was generally very meditative, with lots of psalms and scripture readings. There is always something wonderful about reading psalms out loud together.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
There was no sermon – but we had a reading from St John Chrysostom on the nature of Christ's sacrifice.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
At the end of the service we all processed in silence from Sacred Heart through the streets to St Peter's, where we had a final hymn. I've never done this before and I found it very moving. I spent a good part of the walk thinking about the events of Good Friday and I thought about Jesus having to walk to the site of the crucifixion. It made me look at things in a new way.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
That pew. My knees were screaming at me by the time we got up for the procession!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
After the service we went to St Peter's hall for coffee and hot cross buns. Everyone was very talkative after being silent for about half an hour or so. The four clergy were circulating saying hello to everyone.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Very good, and there were free hot cross buns.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – I thoroughly enjoyed the service even though it was rather different to what I've experienced before – but I don't think I'd like to make it my regular church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Definitely. Seeing these four churches coming together to remember what Jesus did for us was very uplifting. Also the fact that I had the opportunity to think about Jesus's last day in a way I never had before.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Walking through the streets of Chorley almost in tears as I thought about Jesus walking to his death.
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