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Methodist, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Methodist, Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.
Church of Great Britain.
Built in 1888, Eldwick Methodist Church is like every other
small Methodist church in the country. I think there must have
been a 19th century Methodist equivalent of George Wimpey Ltd,
one of the UK's largest house builders. The building is in good
condition and well maintained. The interior is bright and looks
They sponsor several social groups such as a walking tour group
and play group for youngsters. They contribute regularly to
Methodist Homes, a charity providing a range of care services
for older people. Until recently they sponsored a child in Zimbabwe
but had to withdraw their support due to the unfavourable political
climate. There is one worship service each Sunday, with communion
on the third Sunday of each month, and Bible study the first
Wednesday of each month.
Eldwick is steeped in history in an interesting area. Bradford
is an industrial city on the edge of the moors of the West Yorkshire
Pennines, a low-rising mountain range often called the "backbone
of England." The composer Frederick Delius was born in
Bradford, as were the Bronte sisters (Emily, Anne and Charlotte),
famous for such classics as Wuthering Heights and Jane
Eyre. The church is built on the corner of a steep hill,
which makes turning into the parking exciting as you can't see
the cars coming the other way.
The service was introduced by Gareth Ashton, steward, and led
by Mr John Anderson.
The date & time:
Sunday, 12 July 2009, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
There were about 25 people. As is often the case, they filled
the church from the back, leaving six or seven rows between
themselves and the pulpit. The congregation were predominantly
female; we saw no children.
Did anyone welcome you
We were greeted at the door with a handshake and given three
pieces of paper containing various notices. After we had found
a seat (not difficult in an empty church), Mr Ashton came and
introduced himself and asked where we were from. At the end
of the service we were approached by Mrs Ashton, who invited
us for coffee and added that if we were Mystery Worshippers
she hoped we would not judge the church by that morning's service.
Was your pew comfortable?
There were quite modern seats; very comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
When we first arrived there was some quiet recorded music playing.
About two minutes before the service began, the organist played
quietly in the background. The general atmosphere had a murmur
What were the exact opening words of the
Mr Ashton opened the service with: "Good morning. Welcome
to Eldwick Methodist Church. The weather is reasonably good
if a little windy."
What books did the congregation use during the
Hymns and Psalms and the Good News Bible were
the books in the pews. When the video projector didn't have
the words, we were given a small folder with printed songs.
What musical instruments were played?
Fairly modern church pipe organ.
Did anything distract you?
The audio-visual team, seated in the balcony, were having a
couple of problems. Their computer crashed a few times with
a "critical stop"beep. They appeared to be missing
something from the PowerPoint presentation, as they could be
heard typing away during the sermon. There were times when what
appeared on the PowerPoint didn't match what was happening in
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
It's almost indefinable: traditional Methodist meets Salvador
Dali. A surreal series of five sermonettes interspersed with
Exactly how long was the sermon?
3, 6, 4, 5 and 3 minutes long, respectively. However, they seemed
so much longer.
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
2 The preacher began by outlining his sermon on prayer
with the mnemonic ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving
and supplication), but then introduced the concept of how he
used a CD called Singing
for Snorers to help him in his prayer life. At the start
of each of the five sermonettes, the AV team played a short
section from the CD and the preacher sang along. It is difficult
to describe the content. The only sad thing is that there are
no sound files on the Singing for Snorers website to let you
share our experience.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
He said that prayer is difficult and that he used visual aids
such as a picture or a crystal that reflects rainbows on his
cupboards to aid him in his prayer. He also said that he uses
the acronym ACTS to lead him through his prayer time. He gave
a short example of each type of prayer. These ranged from prayers
for Israel to our need to care for insects, but they didn't
seem particularly rooted in the real world.
Which part of the service was like being in
The PowerPoint presented the words of the hymns well and included
good background visuals. The organist and the singing were above
average, even given the small congregation.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The sermonettes in five parts felt longer than they actually
were, although it has to be said that Singing for Snorers provided
us with one or two light moments. The final hymn was a version
of the the Lord's Prayer to the tune of "Kumbaya."
At the close of the service the preacher came forward and invited
us to hold hands to say "the grace." It would have
been worse only if we had sung "Bind us Together."
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Two or three people invited us for coffee and we were made to
How would you describe the after-service
The tea and coffee were fair trade and were served hot in mugs.
There were also some biscuits. A bowl for payment had been set
out, although no one asked us donate anything.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 We felt that we had not caught them on their best day
and will do a return visit when their minister is at home. However,
if we had been seekers it is unlikely that we would return.
Not that the congregation were unwelcoming, but the major flaw
with the service was the preacher.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
No. We often drive past Eldwick and had seen some really imaginative
and contemporary posters for example: "Would those
who say it can’t be done please get out of the way of
those doing it." They seem really to be trying to reach
out, but unfortunately they didn't reach us based on our experience
of this visit.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
Singing for Snorers.
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