|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.
Paul's, Auckland, New Zealand
Mystery Worshipper: Zadok.
The church: St Paul's,
Auckland, New Zealand.
Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Diocese of Auckland.
The building: Now in its third manifestation, St Paul's is the oldest church
in Auckland, having been a light in the city since 1841. The
first St Paul's was built in Emily Place, just off Princes
Street, where a plaque still marks the site of the beginning
of God's church in the city of Auckland. The church's third
and final building was built in brick Gothic style, though
it's missing the tower and steeple that were part of the architect
William Skinner's original design due to the economic depression
of the day. However, I think some of the interior is ready
if the church ever wishes to proceed with this rather belated
addition. It has a lovely stained glass window at the far
end, and many artifacts gifted by the Revd George Selwyn (who
played a part in early Auckland history, including the local
Selwyn College named after him).
The church: Much of the congregation drifted off during the 1980s and 1990s,
but since 2004 the modern St Paul's has experienced a second
revival after a team from St Mary's from Bryanston Square
in London took over. It now ministers to a wide range of ages
and stages in life, and the congregational mix reflects this.
It is growing in numbers and it has an outward look to its
The neighbourhood: An eclectic mix of business, public transport,
high-rise accommodation (including student accommodation for the nearby
Auckland University) and retail.
The cast: Revd Mathew Newton, priest assistant, led the welcome. Andy
Campbell, assistant leader, led the worship. A visiting
preacher, the Revd Tim Keel, was the speaker. Mr Keel
is pastor of Jacob's Well Church in Kansas City, Missouri,
USA, and a leader of the emergent church movement, which
seeks to reframe the meaning of church in the modern age.
The date & time: Sunday, 23 May 2010, 11.00am.
What was the
name of the service?
How full was
Mostly full but not packed. I'm guessing the capacity
was about 200, minus the children.
welcome you personally?
I was warmly greeted at the door and given a service sheet.
Also, as parking is at a premium on the surrounding streets,
I was offered a discount ticket for the nearby car park,
which was nice.
Was your pew
No traditional wooden pews. Individual padded seats
(the stackable variety). What surprised me was that the
seating wasn't set up facing the traditional front
of the church, where the stained glass window, traditional
wooden pulpit and sanctuary give a sense of distance,
but instead it was more inclusive and faced from side
wall to side wall.
How would you
describe the pre-service
Quietly humming but not loud.
What were the
exact opening words of the
"Good morning, everyone, and welcome to St Paul's."
What books did
the congregation use during the
No Bibles were supplied; those who wanted one just brought
their own (I assume). The words of the songs were projected
onto a screen.
instruments were played?
Acoustic, electric and bass guitars, drums, three vocalists.
Did anything distract
When I first seated myself down, I felt like I was being
glared at, including by several children on their way
to crèche (haven't they seen a red-headed, large-sized
woman before?). Rather off-putting! Thankfully that only
lasted a few minutes.
Was the worship
stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
I was surprised to find no traditional music being played
or sung out of song books. One song was called "Hosanna".
It was heartfelt, not happy clappy but nice, with modern
instruments to accompany it.
long was the sermon?
37 minutes, including the closing prayer.
On a scale of
1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – I liked how Mr Keel used metaphors and analogies
to describe his concepts. But I would have benefited from
hearing his talk the previous week, which was part one
of a series. I felt a bit out of the loop.
In a nutshell,
what was the sermon
How to do community, part two. He said that windmills generate power by catching the wind,
and have a prayer-like posture as though they were standing
with their arms up and open (i.e., the blades). Electricity
is like the current it produces, just like grace is the
power current we produce in similar prayer-like postures,
with the wind being the power of God the Holy Spirit.
Just like the electricity that gets passed through to
grid stations and power lines, so grace is passed through
a network, often on behalf of others.
Which part of
the service was like being in
The church building and interior were amazing. And the
service had a refreshing, modern feel to it.
And which part
was like being in... er... the other place?
Some rude children who hadn't been taught that staring
is bad manners.
when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone pointed me down to the crypt for coffee and refreshments.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Proper percolated coffee. However, by the time I got to
it, all that was left was "bottom of the pot"
– more coffee grounds than coffee – which
was a shame. And there was a very long set of stairs to
get down to the bottom level of the crypt and back up
again. I was then shooed
out after loitering around for too long afterward, looking
at all the historic plaques on the walls.
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
While the building is lovely, I didn't feel entirely at
home or fully welcomed. I did, however, like the theological
sermon, and how the church is reaching out in the community,
which is great.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a
Yes, it certainly did.
What one thing
will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The building, and being shooed out afterward.
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.