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Church, Worcester, England
The Yam Yam.
The church: City
Church, Worcester, England.
Denomination: Salt and
The building: They meet in Christopher Whitehead Language College (the local
state school), but their day-to-day work is based in a building
they own in Barbourne, north of the city centre, which I happened
to stumble on while out for a stroll. That building (which
I photographed – see above) is a fine Victorian villa in
an area of large Regency and Victorian houses.
The church: Founded in 1980, they are an evangelical and charismatic church,
part of Salt and Light Ministries. Their values include a
passion to follow Jesus and every-member ministry (which is
something many new evangelical churches aspire to). They also
want to foster good links with other churches (which hasn't
always been the case with the new churches). They are involved
with a number of activities, including the marriage course,
Alpha, English classes, and a fellowship group for retired
The neighbourhood: Worcester is one of Engand's historic towns, still economically
successful and expanding. It includes many historic buildings,
although much damage was done in the 1960s and 70s –
the work of which the city council hopes to sweep away in
coming years. Christopher Whitehead Language College is located
in the St John's area, west of the River Severn (which splits
the town), a quieter area with an alarming number of un-let
The cast: Rick Thomas (former leader but now working to develop
the church's wider ministry)
led the service. Andrea Wharton, another member of the leadership team,
The date & time: Sunday, 15 May 2011, 10.15am.
What was the
name of the service?
How full was
I would estimate there were about 130 present.
Did anyone welcome you
The school has two entrances from the road: a right way in
and a wrong way in. We went the wrong way and spent ages wandering
around the complex trying locked doors. But once we managed
to find the right way in, yes. A welcomer shook my hand and
asked me if I had been there before. She said she would speak
to me afterward, but that did not happen – mainly because
various other people were speaking to me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Plastic school chair – OK.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty, relaxed. People continued arriving while we were singing a
What were the
exact opening words of the
"Well, good morning! If someone asked you to show them God, what would
you show them?"
What books did
the congregation use during the
None. The words of the songs were on a screen. People brought their own
instruments were played?
Band: keyboard, two guitars, cello, bass, drums.
Some bicycles were suspended from the ceiling. I think they were an
inspirational installation for pupils (unless they had been placed
there after being confiscated).
Was the worship
stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Spirit-led and charismatic. No formal liturgy. Modern worship
music. Prayer ministry (someone was slain in the Spirit).
Congregation speaking out their praise or otherwise contributing
if they felt moved to do so. There was a flag-waver. He moved
very well (I would have knocked one of the bicycles from the
roof onto someone's head) and you could hear the whoosh of
the flag through the air. Mrs Yam said it was very powerful,
that it made her think of the Holy Spirit and gave her something
to focus on during worship.
long was the sermon?
I forgot my watch, but approximately 30 minutes.
On a scale of
1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Andrea Wharton has a slightly loquacious style,
but this is deceptive. Her sermon was packed with good things.
She used the example of her mother to illustrate her points.
(I happen to know that her mother died recently, and so I
give her credit for mentioning her at what must have been
a difficult time.)
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
Her text was Romans 12 (we should be a living sacrifice, serving
God, hating evil, and loving what is good). Worship is two
things: words and actions. Singing is part of it, but our
whole life should be worship. (Andrea's mother, for example,
was a terrible singer but a terrific worshipper!) We were
created so that we might worship, but what do we worship?
People are not made to be worshipped; only God is.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
At the conclusion of the sermon, Andrea read out a long list
of adjectives and superlatives for God. She then asked the
congregation to read a few words of praise from the Psalms.
Many did. It was, well, heavenly.
And which part
was like being in... er... the other place?
Salt and Light churches, like many new churches, borrow buildings
for meetings. Church buildings are a blessing and a curse.
Not having one saves the bother of upkeep appeals, but having
one does help with a sense of identity and, well, finding
when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone I knew saw me and we had a long chat. I spoke to some other
people too, as did Mrs Yam. It was very welcoming.
How would you
describe the after-service
Tea in a plastic cup. Not sure if it was fairly traded.
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
7 – This style of worship isn't for everyone. The Yams
liked it and felt it was a Spirit-breathed service. Good children's
groups too. The Yams, however, are probably Anglicans.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a
What one thing
will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Bicycles on the roof and flag-waving. Maybe they should combine the two.
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