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448: St James & Emmanuel, Didsbury, Manchester, England
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St James & Emmanuel, Didsbury, Manchester, England
Mystery Worshipper: Woody Slim.
The church: St James & Emmanuel, Didsbury, Manchester, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Emmanuel church is an attractive yellow stone church in the centre of Didsbury – an area of Manchester that is distinctly trendy. The number of trendy restaurants, cafés and shops is extraordinary!
The neighbourhood: Nothing spectacular.
The cast: Leader: Christine Mullins (children's & family worker). Preacher: Rev. David Hughes (Rector) and assorted puppet bods.
What was the name of the service?
All Age Worship with Baptism.

How full was the building?
Almost completely full, 250-300-ish. I was glad I arrived a little early and bagged a back row seat.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A polite hello at the door and a news-sheet thrust into my hands.

Was your pew comfortable?
There weren't any pews – just chairs. The chairs were aesthetically very good, but appeared to be designed to cause the maximum amount of discomfort and numbness.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quite loud as millions of children raced around shouting or crying (maybe it wasn't millions, it just seemed like it).

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"God morning, good morning, good morning," as the congregation were sprayed with a water pistol. An opening I found quite amusing.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
None. The words for the songs and all the Common Worship liturgy were on acetate.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, piano, guitar, drums, violin and flute.

Did anything distract you?
I have to say the children in the service – and they were lots – were often quite noisy, even during the sermon. This led to an awful lot of distractions, not least the small child in front of me I spent 10 minutes playing hide & seek with! To be fair to the church, this service is the family service. If I was looking for quiet meditation I would have tried something different.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Restrained Anglican charismatic worship – a mix of hymns, choruses and children's songs.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
16 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The sermon was delivered by the Rector while he was sitting down on the dais surrounded by children. This was cosy, but unfortunately it looked a bit like a cheesy Christian postcard.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The church had been following a series of sermons based on the Pilgrim's Progress. The sermon took the section where Christian and his companion are approaching the celestial city and have to cross a river. The story was told by puppets and Rev. Hughes used the story of the sailor Vasco de Gama as a springboard to an excellent, simple and appropriate gospel message.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
It was great to see a church that caters for families.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I felt the service was a bit flat. Maybe I just caught them on an off day!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I talked with one or two people, who were friendly and polite. I certainly wasn't ignored.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't any. Apparently the church kitchen was being redone. We were all invited to come back next week and see how wonderful it looked.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – On the strength of this service I probably wouldn't want to go every week. However, if I had a young family it would definitely appeal to me as there were lots of young families there.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. Particularly when the rector, David Hughes, got up and said, "Hello, my name is Louise."

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Daniel, the baby who was being baptized really stole the show! One particularly amusing moment happened while he was being prayed for. Rev. Hughes had his hand raised over the baby, and Daniel chose this moment to high five the rector.
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