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911: St Martin Kirche, Dornstetten, Germany
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St Martin Kirche, Dornstetten
Mystery Worshipper: Herminator.
The church: St Martin Kirche, Dornstetten, Germany.
Denomination: Evangelical.
The building: Rebuilt after a fire that destroyed the original church of 1676, the church incorporates a few parts of the older church building. A wonderful window showing the risen Christ glows in the morning sun. Otherwise the church is quite plain, with predominatly Gothic elements.
The neighbourhood: Dornstetten has many old buildings with a half-timbered construction, this being a major attraction of the town.
The cast: Pastor Siegfried Schanz and two readers (no names given).
What was the name of the service?
Communion service.

How full was the building?
Nearly half the seats were taken, and that during the holidays!

Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, nobody welcomed me. The lady in my pew nodded, but that was all.

Was your pew comfortable?
Standard pew, and as I was sitting in the first row of the gallery, there was even enough legroom.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was quiet with very little whispering.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Wir feiern diesen Gottesdienst im Namen des Vaters, des Sohnes und des Heiligen Geistes." ("We celebrate this service in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.")

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Evangelisches Gesangbuch, standard with most evangelical churches in Germany.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ in the apse was played and also a piano for the more modern songs.

Did anything distract you?
The sound system had a metallic rattling sound which was especially distracting during the sermon.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Mostly hymns were sung, but also a Taizé song. The one modern song from the hymnbook was not well known, to judge by the thin singing on this one!

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – The style was very lively. Sadly, the preacher did not go beyond well known theological – may I say? – platitudes.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Paul being called to follow Jesus. Jesus knocks him down and changes his life. In the darkness he beholds the light and experiences forgiveness – even for a persecutor. A loving and supportive community is necessary for a Christian life.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The Taizé singing was very touching. Also, it is always quite wonderful to take communion with other Christians, who all belong to the body of Christ, even without knowing each other.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
When the preacher talked about Jesus breaking sin in our life he referred to several sins and then singled out a group of confirmands to talk about sexuality and adequate behaviour toward the other sex. Why them? And why did this have to be in a sermon in front of the congregation? And why does it always have to be sex? What about hate, gluttony, greed... arrgh!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Nothing! There was no after-service coffee, and everybody seemed to head home as quickly as possible. I waited in the church for about five minutes, then outside for another five minutes, and nobody talked to me!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – While I was not made to feel very welcome this Sunday, I already know some members of the congregation pesonally. I hope the welcome is better on other occasions.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
What I most vividly remember is cringing during the pastor's talk to the confirmands (after three weeks!).
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