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406: St Andrew's, Mevagissey, Cornwall
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St Andrew's, Mevagissey, Cornwall
Mystery Worshipper: Sunbeam.
The church: St Andrew's, Mevagissey, Cornwall.
Denomination: Methodist and United Reformed Church.
The building: A fairly traditional nonconformist chapel, built at the end of the 19th century, that has since been extensively reordered to provide worship space upstairs in the old gallery of the chapel, and a church hall downstairs. The building seems very well used.
The neighbourhood: Mevagissey is a Cornish fishing village, and a number of tourists come here in the summer (like me) and from what I could gather the place is rather quieter in the winter. I'm told that the summer congregation is larger than the winter one.
The cast: Mr Cyril Dowling (a local preacher, or whatever the URC equivalent is).
What was the name of the service?
Fellowship Service.

How full was the building?
Mostly full – I had thought it was going to be more sparse than it was, but a lot of people came in just before the start of the service.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes! Three separate people – and it seemed genuine, not a detached "I'm-on-welcoming-duty" greeting that you find in some places.

Was your pew comfortable?
The church had separate, individually cushioned seats, which were very comfortable. A minor quibble is that the book holder attached to the seat in front wasn't large enough to hold the three books that we had.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet and reverential to begin with, but just before the service started a number of people came in which created a bit of a disturbance. The instruction on the notice sheet to keep silence after the Bible was brought in didn't seem to be terribly well-heeded.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning everybody!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
I was offered (and accepted) a Good News Bible as I came in. Two hymnbooks, "Hymns & Psalms" (the Methodist one) and "Rejoice & Sing" (the URC one) were in the seats; "Rejoice & Sing" was not used.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ and guitar (separately).

Did anything distract you?
The lady sitting next to me kept looking at me strangely – particularly during the hymns – I wondered if I'd buttoned my shirt wrongly or something.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Fairly middle-of-the-road hymn sandwich, though with one or two differences. The intercessions were offered immediately after the Bible readings (I'd expected them after the sermon) which I thought rather disrupted the flow of the ministry of the word.

St Andrew's, Mevagissey, Cornwall

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – The preacher seemed to ramble around the topic rather than having any logical progression – some thought-provoking things were said, though.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon was on wisdom. We were told that if we desired wisdom we had only to ask it of God and it would be given. God's wisdom is infinitely superior to our own, and we must learn to trust God's wisdom in all things.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The congregation instinctively observed all the commas in the hymns – it lifted this church musician's heart!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
In the place of the children's address the preacher played his guitar for a chorus. No one seemed to know it, and unfortunately he didn't seem to provide much of a lead, so I found myself desperately wanting it to stop.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have a chance – directly the service had finished, a number of people came over to say hello and shake my hand. I was chatted to by the organist, and then invited down to coffee in the church hall.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Fairly traded coffee or tea was available, with a bowl for charity donations.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – This church seems very friendly and welcoming, though I'm generally happier in the more liturgical end of Methodism.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The warmth of the welcome.

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