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515: Fredrick Street United Reformed, Loughborough, England
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Fredrick Street United Reformed Church, Loughborough
Mystery Worshipper: Candle in the dark.
The church: Fredrick Street United Reformed, Loughborough, England.
Denomination: United Reformed.
The building: Large, barn-style building on the side of a fairly busy road. Inside it is light and airy with fixed pews and a balcony. The corridors and halls aren't in too good a state, but the church itself looks clean and well kept.
The church: Like most churches in Loughborough, the majority of the congregation come from the estates into the centre to visit church.
The neighbourhood: I know little about the housing or community to one side of the building. On the other side, the church is close to the town hall, library and main shopping area.
The cast: Mrs Daphne Beale led, preached, celebrated, read and intercessed. There were a couple of stewards also.
What was the name of the service?
6.30pm communion service.

How full was the building?
Fairly empty. I counted 15 people, and the closest sat seven rows back, which felt like a long way!

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed in with the words, "Hello, dear, sit wherever you like!" A small group chatting quietly turned and nodded kindly to me.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews are standard old style – not uncomfortable, but don't allow sleeping. They have comfortable cushions on them.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There were few people, but most were chatting quietly. Just off reverential, perhaps habitual.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening and a happy St Patrick's Day."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymn book: Rejoice and Sing, which also contains prayers for the call to worship, offertory, communion narrative, etc. A bit awkward to keep flipping from prayers to hymns.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ only.

Did anything distract you?
Microphone noise: evidently the lectern was standing against the microphone stand, because whenever the preacher shuffled her books (frequently) a selection of bangs and thuds came over loud and clear. This was most distracting, as I know how easily it can be solved!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Done without emotion or demonstration. Rather quiet singing of hymns, at a slow pace. This service felt like it was a routine or a duty performed without joy or enthusiasm.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – I found the preacher hard to listen to by this point. The intercessions earlier on had been very long.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was based on the raising of Lazarus from the tomb. Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, knew all the sufferings that we do, and so we needn't fear. We can therefore celebrate the Lord's supper because of the hope it leads to.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Afterwards, when I was really welcomed, by several people. They even offered me a lift home!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The last hymn got slower and slower. I found I didn't have enough breath to sing a line!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people came over, introduced themselves and chatted, very friendly and welcoming.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
None was served. The stewards tidied up and we all shuffled out.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – I found the lack of liturgy, along with the rather monotone dutifulness of the service, rather disconcerting compared with my usual church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
The people did, but the service didn't!

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The inside of the church – it is an attractive space in which to worship.
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