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662: St Nicholas, Nottingham, England
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St Nicholas Church Nottingham
Mystery Worshipper: Son of a Preacher Man.
The church: St Nicholas, Nottingham, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: 17th century building with 18th century aisles, separated from the nave by tuscan columns. The pews have been removed and replaced with modern chairs, and the floor carpeted. Kitchen and toilet area in the south west corner. It has limited stained glass but many wall monuments.
The church: There was a wide range of ages in attendance, from students to pensioners. I got the impression that the majority travel from outside the area as the parish itself is very small.
The neighbourhood: The church is placed on the ascent to the hill on which the castle stands. It is shielded by a few trees from Maid Marion Way, a road built in the 1960s which cuts across the historic road layout. Heavy traffic now passes within a few metres of the building.
The cast: The Rector, Rev. Trevor Hatton.
What was the name of the service?
Evening worship.

How full was the building?
About 60 per cent full. Estimated attendance just over 100.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I received a quick "good evening" on entering the building. The weekly news sheet was thrust into my hands.

Was your pew comfortable?
We were seated on fairly comfortable chairs, although they were rather closely crammed together.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was a fair bit of low level chattering before the band struck up five minutes before the service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening and welcome to St Nic's, I'm Chris Easton". Chris appeared to be some sort of lay worker.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We had Bibles for readings (New International Version, I think). OHPs – one on each side of the church – were used for the worship songs.

What musical instruments were played?
Guitars (electric and acoustic), keyboard, saxophone and drums.

Did anything distract you?
As I was seated in the south aisle I was in the jetstream of the heating system, which was a bit like a wind tunnel. Howling dogs outside did not aid my concentration.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Much as I hate the description, it was probably happy clappy, with some clapping and plenty of arms raised to the heavens.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
29 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Trevor wandered about a bit, making it difficult to maintain sight of him around the tuscan columns.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Worship is a response to grace. The basic gist was that worship comes from the heart, and cannot be forced. If we have not been saved then we cannot worship. We must be receptive to God's goodness before we can respond.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The whole thing, just experiencing an hour and a half with the Lord. There was no doubting the spirituality of the service.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The worship leader trying to stare out members of the congregation.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The young ladies next to me entertained me with lively conversation, which was most enjoyable.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea and coffee were available, but I did not have time to partake as I needed to get home for supper, and I was talking to the young women for a good 20 minutes.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – Very few doubts, apart from perhaps the size of the church community. Good biblical preaching and enjoyable worship.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Very much so. I had my hands in the air by the end of the service. The rousing "My Jesus, My Saviour", a personal favourite, was a superb (and fitting) finale.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The quality of the worship and preaching.
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