|606: Brownley Green Baptist, Wythenshawe, Manchester, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Mary Magdalene.
The church: Brownley Green Baptist Church, Wythenshawe, Manchester, England.
The building: This is a modern, single storey, brick-built worship space. Next door is the 60 year old original building which is now the church hall and meeting rooms. It stands on Poundswick Lane, opposite the Wythenshawe Civic Centre.
The church: From what was shared during the service, it seems that this will be the first time for a while that they have had a full time minister. It was obviously a very special occasion for the worshipping community there.
The neighbourhood: The church is in the middle of Wythenshawe, which was reputedly the largest council estate in Europe for some years. The housing around the church has since been transferred to a Housing Trust. Brownley Green is part of the Benchill Ward; the most deprived ward in all of England and Wales. However, the area is very pleasant to look at with traditional housing and mature trees. There was reference in the service to the Church's work in reaching out into the community, which has been an area of recent development.
The cast: The Rev. Chris Haig led most of the service. The Rev. Dr Richard Kidd preached. Oh and the Rev. Adrian Klos was centre of attention as the Ordinand and Inductee.
What was the name of the service?
Induction and Ordination Service.
How full was the building?
Every seat was taken, and the service was relayed by loudspeaker to more people standing at the back and in the entrance hall. There were approximately 230 people in all, in a relatively small building. However, when members of the church were asked to stand, only about 25 people did so. I would guess that the church was unusually full.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed with a friendly smile, a handshake and a "Good afternoon," by the man who handed me a service sheet.
Was your pew comfortable?
A very comfortable, padded chair.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A happy, excited and rather noisy atmosphere, with people greeting each other across the church. I could hardly hear the choruses the pianist was playing.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"On behalf of Brownley..." (feedback followed by much fiddling with microphones) "On behalf of Brownley Green Baptist Church, Adrian and Ruth and on this happy occassion a very warm welcome"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A specially printed service sheet. The reader referred to the page in the Church Bible for anyone who wanted to follow the reading, but I couldn't see one. This didn't really matter since the reading was very clear.
What musical instruments were played?
Just a piano, which was played rather well.
Did anything distract you?
A mobile phone rang during the secretary's comments, playing something approximating a snatch of Brandenburg Concerto. As a repressed Anglican of a high church background I also found the murmurs of "Yes," "Amen," "That's right," which punctuated both prayers and sermon alike somewhat offputting!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Gently happy clappy, but with a couple of traditional hymns thrown in for good measure. I only spotted one hand waving in the air although there was lots of audible agreement with the sentiment of prayers and sermons.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 The preacher was very engaging and spoke naturally, I think without notes. He managed to include everyone: the ordinand and his family; the church members and the many visitors, who seemed to be drawn from lots of churches. Wythenshawe apparently has quite a healthy ecumenical scene.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We are drawn from many and varied backgrounds and traditions, but whatever our worship style the mark of authenticity which we share is a commitment to justice. The pursuit of justice brings its own reward, which is true joy. The Kingdom is one of justice and joy.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
An inspiring sermon on an inspiring text (Isaiah 58:5-14). Being part of a congregation of all ages and varied denominations and traditions worshipping together.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Trying to sing a hymn beginning, "The time we have is precious, we have no time to waste", which neither I nor the majority of the congregation knew. The vague meandering half-tune which resulted from our attempts to sing it was a painful moment in an otherwise uplifting service.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There were clear instructions about how to get to the meal which had been prepared and all were encouraged to share in this. Lots of people seemed to have been asked to guide visitors, and there was really no opportunity to look lost.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Unfortunately, I had to dash off at the end of the service, but there were lots of sandwiches, crisps, flans, cakes and biscuits. I assume these would have been accompanied by coffee or tea!
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 The church is clearly very welcoming, and the worship was nice for a change. However, I'm not sure I can deal with my prayers being punctuated by other people's agreement! I would definitely go out of my way to hear the Rev. Dr Richard Kidd preach again.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sermon, with its message of justice and joy.