|727: Auburn Uniting, Melbourne, Australia|
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Mystery Worshipper: Adeodatus.
The church: Auburn Uniting, Melbourne, Australia.
Denomination: Uniting Church of Australia.
The building: This is a large, redbrick, 19th church with a tower. Inside, the choir and organ loom above the communion table – a reflection of the Methodist heritage of this congregation. The building could probably accommodate up to 500 people.
The cast: Rev. Ian Littler.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
There was a congregation of 30, which included a choir of 12!
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. I was welcomed warmly, and unexpectedly, by an acquaintance from years ago, which was a nice surprise.
Was your pew comfortable?
The seats were padded with upright backs, which were quite alright for an hour's service.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Generally, the atmosphere was reverential and quiet. There was a little muttering behind me, but believe me, I've struck a lot worse.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The heavens declare the glory of the Lord."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
I was given an Australian Hymn Book, Uniting in Worship (the service book), and a printed order of service.
What musical instruments were played?
Only a pipe organ.
Did anything distract you?
The minister was wearing something that looked like a chasuble, which was a surprise. I caught myself contemplating this item of clothing once or twice when my mind should have been on other things.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was traditional, reverent and dignified.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon centred about the first and second commandments, leading to an examination of idolatry in contemporary society and in the church. With regard to the latter, even the worthy aims of good liturgy and music can become idolatrous if they assume greater importance than the worship of the living God.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music, definitely. Obviously this church has a fine musical tradition, and the excellent choir would be the envy of much larger congregations.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I doubt whether the internal walls had been painted for the last 50 years. Somehow stains on church walls seem to bother me, though I tell myself to forget it if the worship is good. After a time I did forget. And it was.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everyone headed to the side of the church, and as there were so few there, I was soon introduced to most of them. Those I talked to were friendly, without being overwhelming.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The ubiquitous instant coffee, teabags and boring biscuits.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 The small congregation would not put me off, as I enjoyed the service.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
These words from the sermon – "Our minds are idol factories".