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|1642: St George's,
Church of England, Diocese
St George's, designed by the Spanish architect Teodoro de Anasagasti,
was consecrated in 1925. It is built in a Spanish Romanesque
style, complete with bell tower and tiled roof, but in a very
Anglican shape. The building is light and homely, with a children's
chapel under the tower skillfully introducing light into the
space. One quick look around and you would know that you were
in an Anglican church. Of special note are the stained glass
windows representing St George, patron of England; St David
of Wales; St Andrew, patron of Scotland; St Patrick, patron
of Ireland; and St Francis of Assisi; as well as St James the
Great, patron of Spain; and Sts John, Peter and Paul. The window
in the north choir depicts St Cecilia.
They minister to a mixture of British, American and other English
speaking nationalities living in or visiting Madrid. They sponsor
a mothers' and toddlers' group and offer both singing lessons
and violin lessons. They also host a chapter of Weight Watchers.
They are especially committed to ecumenism among the various
Spanish churches under the Anglican umbrella, with outreaches
to the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church, The American Episcopal
Church's Convocation of American Churches in Europe, and the
Lusitanian Catholic Apostolic Evangelical Church of Portugal.
There are three masses each Sunday, with evening prayer on Wednesdays
and holy communion on Fridays.
Madrid, the capital of Spain, in modern times has consolidated
its position as an important economic, cultural, financial,
industrial, educational, and technological centre. While Madrid
possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look
and feel of many of its historic neighbourhoods and streets.
The church is near the Parque del Buen Retiro ("Park of
the Pleasant Retreat"), a magnificent expanse of greenery
and horticulture surrounding an artificial lake, in a well heeled
residential area that also has a number of classy shops and
The Revd Canon Ian Hutchinson Cervantes, chaplain, led the service
and presided at holy communion. The Revd Jack Childs, who was
visiting Madrid from the United States, preached. Members of
the congregation read the Old Testament lesson and the epistle;
another member led the prayers of intercession.
The date & time:
Fourth Sunday before Advent, 2 November 2008, 11.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The church was about half full by the time we got to the sermon;
quite a number of people came late. I guess that the building
would seat just under 200 people.
Did anyone welcome you
Yes. I was welcomed at the door, handed the weekly notice sheet,
and shown into the church. At the end of the service the person
next to me introduced herself.
Was your pew comfortable?
The first ten rows are pews with the usual carpet type covering.
They looked to be as comfortable as pews can be and there seemed
to be sufficient leg room. I sat behind the pews in one of a
half dozen rows of comfortable chairs.
How would you describe the pre-service
I arrived shortly after the end of the previous mass, a family
service, and there was plenty going on as the screen which had
been used in that service was being removed. There was a buzz
of activity as people arrived and greeted one another but it
was not distracting. However, what was distracting was the arrival
of a number of latecomers during the first half hour of the
What were the exact opening words of the
"Welcome to St George's Church. We spend a few moments
in quietness as we become aware of the presence of God."
What books did the congregation use during the
The service was from Common Worship. The hymn book
was Hymns Ancient and Modern and the English Standard
Version of the Bible was available in the pews.
What musical instruments were played?
Did anything distract you?
The arrival of latecomers was particularly irritating as I was
sitting near to the door. But even more distracting was the
constant flashing and flickering of two illuminated exit signs.
I'm sure it is necessary to have the signs but I am equally
sure that any electrician could sort out the flashing.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
A very traditional middle of the road Anglican style. The small
adult choir and the organist gave an excellent lead to the singing
of the hymns and the sung sections of the liturgy. Not being
Anglican myself, I was not familiar with the setting, but clearly
the congregation were and it was easy to follow the confident
lead given by the choir and organist.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 Father Jack began by sharing an anecdote about long
winded preachers from the USA, and in sharing this story he
made good eye contact with the congregation. But from then on
his head was in his notes and the style became theological lecture
rather than preaching. It isn't possible to include everything
in a single sermon, but I would like to have seen him connect
up his points better to our experiences in the 21st century.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The sermon was a good theological expounding of Matthew 24:1-14
(Jesus tells of warfare, false prophets and trials for the faithful
heralding the end times). Jesus talks to the disciples (and
through the pages of the New Testament to us as well) about
the signs of the end of the age. He speaks of the destruction
of the temple and it is clear that he, rather than a building,
is at the centre of God's plan for humanity. Father Jack ended
his sermon as Jesus ended the set passage by calling us to live
in hope, because at the end of all things we will be vindicated
Which part of the service was like being in
The enthusiastic singing of the final hymn, Charles Wesley's
"Love divine," with a descant from the choir in the
final verse. In fact it wasn't just I who felt moved by the
singing, as Father Ian commented on it during the notices after
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
At the risk of repetition, I do wish people would arrive on
time. We had an appointment at 11.30am with each other and with
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people spoke to me and I was shown the way to the refreshments.
On warm days, they serve refreshments in a lovely courtyard
between the church and the hall in the shade of a large and
obviously very old fig tree. But the day of my visit was cold,
so refreshments were served in the hall.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Red and white wine in plastic cups, plus cans of beer and soft
drinks. It didn't appear that coffee or tea were provided. There
were bowls of crisps on the serving table.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 If I lived in Madrid I would certainly worship here
unless my Spanish improved to the point where I could fully
participate in a Spanish speaking church.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
Singing "Love divine" with an enthusiastic congregation
in a lovely building in Madrid, my favourite European city.
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