homepage
   
about the ship sign up for our newsletter support the ship
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
mystery worshipper home reports from the uk and ireland reports from the usa reports from australia and new zealand reports from canada reports from elsewhere famous and infamous reports comments and corrections
 
the mystery worshipper
Comment on this report, or find other reports.
Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
 
1801: St John the Baptist, Bishop Monkton, North Yorkshire, England
St John the Baptist, Bishop Monkton, Yorkshire, England
Mystery Worshipper: Jacobsen.
The church: St John the Baptist, Bishop Monkton, Yorkshire, England.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Ripon and Leeds.
The building: Limestone, designed by the noted Durham architect C Hodgson Fowler and built with steeple and porch in the Old English style in 1879. It occupies the site of two previous chapels of ease. From the outside it seems deceptively large, as the long wall runs parallel with St Johnís Road. Inside, however, it is tiny, seating 120 at most. Two banks of pews are separated by one central aisle. There is some very nice stained glass, especially a side window depicting an angel and child. An appeal is currently being launched to pay for an extension that will house loos, a kitchen, a quiet room and social space.
The church: This is a true village church with enthusiastic volunteers, witnessed by the albums of photographs on display to celebrate the craftsmanship of kneelers and flower arrangements. The church advertises and supports village activities such as the duck race (plastic ducks being raced down the beck that runs along one side of St Johnís Road) and the local primary schoolís bank holiday fun day for children.
The neighbourhood: A beautiful Yorkshire village a little over a mile from the main road, with stream, one shop, and an indigenous live duck population. It is set in the agricultural triangle between Knaresborough, Boroughbridge and Ripon. The spring bulbs, many planted by residents in common ground, are a glorious sight.
The cast: The Very Revd Keith Jukes, dean of Ripon and Leeds. Since the parish is a benefice of the cathedral, the dean is also its vicar.
The date & time: Sunday, 30 August 2009, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Joint Parish Eucharist with St Leonard's Church, Burton Leonard.

How full was the building?
I counted 29 in the congregation and 16 in the visiting choir from Burton Leonard. It sounds a small number, but was quite substantial, given the small size of the church.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The sidesman giving out the service sheets said hello. I was also approached by a churchwarden who introduced himself and asked me where I was from, and also told me about this particular service. Finally, as the members of the congregation entered, they said hello to right and left as they moved down the church.

Was your pew comfortable?
Standard dark wood pews, rather narrow from front to back, with carpet to soften the effect. Beautiful wool worked kneelers, some with standard patterns, but others of local views and buildings, cats, dogs, mice, etc. Sufficiently comfortable for an hourís service.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The visiting choir were rehearsing, and there was a good deal of talking at the front of the church. This quieted down, and the last few minutes were occupied by an organ solo, the slow movement from Winter (Vivaldiís Four Seasons).

What were the exact opening words of the service?
The service opened with a lively choral introit, after which the dean said: "Well, with such a rousing beginning, these next words are very poignant." He then went on to recite the scripture sentence: "Proclaim the glory of the Lord amongst the nations, his marvellous deeds to all peoples: great is the Lord, worthy of all praise."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
There were no books. A full service leaflet for the day was provided, plus a sheet with the notices for the week.

What musical instruments were played?
An electric piano keyboard for the introit, and the church's two-manual organ for the remainder of the service.

St John the Baptist, Bishop Monkton, Yorkshire, England

Did anything distract you?
It wasnít the warmest of mornings, and I was happy to snuggle up to the radiator, which was on!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Vested priest and robed choir, traditional Anglican service. Jazzy introit, hence the keyboard, but good standard hymns.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
10 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The dean's first comment was that younger priests had described the dayís readings with a rather unkind word. He confessed that the readings were not necessarily the easiest to connect up or make relevant, but he did it, using a personal anecdote. And he got absolute and intense silence while he did it!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The readings were Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (my beloved comes to me and bids me go away with him), and Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 (mere lip service does not honour God; what comes out of a man defiles him, not what goes in). He related these passages to genuine love and worship.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The obvious thought and care which had gone into preparing this special service, which also marked the launch of the appeal for the church extension.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The first hymn was in a key too high for a contralto, so I defaulted into harmony. By the second hymn, my voice had warmed up. This can happen when thereís a choir with real sopranos around.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The lady in the pew in front of me turned round to thank me for my singing! Not, I think, the harmony. We got into a conversation about the projected building works, the history of St Johnís, and her recent visit to London. She steered me toward the refreshments.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea and coffee in disposable cups, plus biscuits.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I found the style of worship congenial. The people were friendly and welcoming. Handshakes at the peace, with no mention of swine flu precautions.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The windows of wonderful Victorian stained glass.
 
please give to the floating fund
camino pilgrimage
The Mystery Pilgrim
One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
mystery worshipper sunday
London churches
Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.
   
 
 
follow ship of fools on twitter
buy your ship of fools postcards
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
 
      More Mystery Worshipper reports          
      ship of fools