Ship of Fools
  Bulletin Boards
  Mystery Worshipper
  Caption Competition
  Gadgets for God
  The Fruitcake Zone
  Signs & Blunders
  Born Twice
  About Ship of Fools
  Support us!
  Contact us!
467: St Columba's, Cambridge, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
St Columba's, Cambridge, England
Mystery Worshipper: Sunbeam.
The church: St Columba's, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: United Reformed Church.
The building: A high lofty building, with generally plain furnishing, though there were some adornments. There was a rather good screen at the back.
The church: The church hosts the Cambridge Chinese Christian Church and is also the Church of Scotland chaplaincy in Cambridge.
The neighbourhood: Lots of college and university buildings.
The cast: Rev. Keith Riglin, minister.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion.

How full was the building?
The service was taking place in the apse of the church, with chairs laid around the Holy Table. All the chairs provided were taken, and one or two more had to put out.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, there were two people at the door. The greeting did seem rather formalized, and one got the impression that they didn't quite know what to do with new people.

Was your pew comfortable?
A wooden chair was provided. Perfectly adequate.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A great deal of preparation appeared to be going on, not very efficiently. This meant that the atmosphere was rather bustly.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening, and welcome to public worship."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Church Hymnary and the Revised Bible. The liturgy was on a printed sheet.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano (though it appeared to have been a somewhat last minute arrangement!).

Did anything distract you?
The disordered start to the service was a bit of a distraction, but once the service proper had started, the atmosphere was devotional.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
High Church Reformed, though in an informal style. The celebrant wore alb and stole, and the sign of the cross was made at the blessing.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Four minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The sermon was delivered without any apparent use of notes, and came off well. It was precise and to the point.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The epiphany is the manifestation of Christ, and this is seen in the Bible in many ways, for example, in the baptism of Christ and the wedding at Cana. Christ is manifest today to all races, and comes to us in Holy Communion.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The relaxed way the service flowed on. Silence was well used and allowed plenty of time for reflection without seeming to break up the service.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hardly hellish, but the words of institution were used at the breaking of the bread, which for me left the eucharistic prayer seeming a bit empty – like a lamp without a bulb.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The minister came over and talked to us before we had left our seats. Other people greeted us also.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I enjoyed the service, and if I was in the market for a church in Cambridge this would be high on my list.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Leaving quickly, suspecting that I might have been rumbled.
The Mystery Worshipper is sponsored by, the internet service provider from Christian Aid. By offering email services, special offers with companies such as and, surefish raises more than £300,000 a year for Christian Aid's work around the world.

Click here to find out how to become a Mystery Worshipper. And click here if you would like to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Top | Other Reports | Become a Mystery Worshipper!

© Ship of Fools 2002
Surefish logo