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482: St Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe, Kampala, Uganda
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St Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe, Kampala, Uganda
Mystery Worshipper: Mzungu.
The church: St Paul's Cathedral, Namirembe, Kampala, Uganda.
Denomination: Church of Uganda (Anglican).
The building: A newish building with wonderful stained glass, portraying the bringing of the gospel to Africa.
The church: This is the main cathedral for all of Uganda and it is very traditionally Western in style.
The neighbourhood: The cathedral is built on top of a hill which rises out of the Kampalan smog. This is a slightly posh region of Kampala, but not the poshest. About a 15-minute walk from the town centre (but it is uphill!).
The cast: Leader: Rev. John Castle. Preacher: Rev. Canon J. Kisawazi.
What was the name of the service?
8.30am English Service.

How full was the building?
Mostly full (about four out of every five seats were taken).

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Rather surprisingly, no, as Ugandan churches are normally super-friendly. We were on a conveyor belt system, though, as the communion service was emptying as we were entering. Rev. Castle did ask all visitors to raise their hands and we were greeted with applause, but there was no face-to-face welcome.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was comfortable, and the prayer bar was at the right height, so you could rest your bum on the seat when praying. Very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Like a tube station. People were moving in for our service and leaving the previous service all at once. Once the hustle and bustle had died down, it was quiet and reverential.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
The first unoffical words were some random Lugandan from a guy who was just ranting up at the front until he was led away. The first Offical words were: "Good morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A service sheet, "Hymns for Today's Church" and "Come and Worship".

What musical instruments were played?
African drums, keyboard, trumpet, pipe organ and guitar.

Did anything distract you?
A couple of Swedes talking next to me was a tad distracting. Also the fact that the preacher sounded a bit like Darth Vader. The OHP board also distracted me as it was a sheet on a wire which I couldn't see, so it looked as if it was floating. (As you can see, I'm easily distracted.)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was a mixture: some of your good, old-fashioned cathedral style, and also some African pop, courtesy of the band, Joint Heirs. Also an African style choir. All of them different from each other, but it all worked in the setting.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
25 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 – I completely lost what he was talking about after about five minutes. He kept bouncing around the Bible for various reasons, none of which were ever fully explained. Also, as he got more excited, his accent became stronger and he became harder to understand.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was based on the fall in the book of Genesis, and despite his copious notes, I'm not sure what his message was. I think it was that we shouldn't hide from God but should stand up to our responsibilities.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The pomp and circumstance. The feeling of the awe and majesty of God.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Bad acoustics due to poor speaker placement.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Sorry, but I couldn't do this, as the next service was beginning straight away. I stood around for a bit, and then the service started.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Not in existence.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – It'd be a long trek each week, and I don't know how much community the cathedral has – but for worship it would be great. Not so much for the teaching.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes and glad for the diverse ways to do it.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The mad Ugandan prophet who was standing at the altar ranting at all and sundry as we were coming in. He was gently led away by an offical-looking person.
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