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2511: St Mary's, Crawford Street, London
St Mary Crawford Street, London (Church)
Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: St Mary's, Crawford Street, London.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of London.
The building: It is the work of 19th century English Greek Revival architect Sir Robert Smirke, who also designed the main block and facade of the British Museum as well as dozens of churches, public buildings and private homes. One enters through a side door into a space dominated by brown, blue and white, with many decorations. Tea, coffee and food are available just inside the entrance.
The church: They describe themselves on their website as adventurous, religion-free, human, messy and informal. Everyone seemed very friendly There is also a school, St Mary's School, next door.
The neighbourhood: There is a very busy road, Marylebone Road, with many buses and cars. Just alongside beside the front of the church there are some shops and a place where we can swim and exercise.
The cast: The Revd John Peters, rector; the Revd Barry Kissel, associate rector; the Revd Ed Flint, associate vicar.
The date & time: Palm Sunday, 24 March 2013, 11.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Palm Sunday Service.

How full was the building?
It was very full, about 200, with many children.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The clergy and others smiled, welcomed me, and asked if I wanted tea or coffee. The people beside me chatted with me and asked where I came from.

Was your pew comfortable?
We all had seats, yellow wooden ones, very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Everyone was chatting and also many were having tea and coffee. The children were about to put on a presentation for for Palm Sunday. I was told that it would last for at least 20 minutes before they went to another place in the church for religious instruction.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
Rector John Peters said, "Welcome, all visitors."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We did not use any books, although there were stacks of Bibles (New International Version) at the entry area. Everything was projected.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, several guitars, drums. The drums were very noisy.

Did anything distract you?
I enjoyed the children playing and singing "Our God is a great big God; God holds us with his hands" and was really enjoying being distracted as an adult! Some of the children were dressed as a large grey donkey that was being ridden about, and two yellow creatures of some sort. We all followed around after the children. This was very different from what has happened in other churches.

St Mary's, Crawford Street, London (School) height=

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Many people put up their hands, both or one. All this was after the children went to their place.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
25 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The associate vicar was pleasant to listen to. He said that he was not a Christian as a child and teenager, but came to be convinced of the truth about what Jesus did and his resurrection.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
His text was taken from Matthew 20 (On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicts his death and heals two blind men). Jesus is King, and yet is a humble servant. He knew he was going to die. He prayed to his Father in heaven and asked his disciples to pray for him also. He died on the cross, and yet three days later all see him alive. Jesus recruits us for God. We are to be directed by the love of God.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Feeling happy that God loves us and rescued us and that we are with God.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The associate vicar mentioned a dream in his sermon, and that reminded me of a nightmare I had a while ago.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People chatted to me and showed me where I could find some brochures about the church and its programs, including an upcoming Maundy Supper and the Easter services.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea and coffee were available before the service but not after.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I was near this church I would experience more in it!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I felt very glad to be a Christian, experiencing God's love for me.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I remember, and will remember for a long time, the children leading us about on the donkey.
 
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