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2527: HTB Brompton Road, London
HTB Brompton Road, London
Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: HTB Brompton Road, London.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of London.
The building: Consecrated in 1829, the building was designed by the 19th century architect Thomas Leverton Donaldson, a pioneer in architectural education and co-founder of the Royal Institute of British Architects. It was extensively modified in the 1980s to accommodate a growing interest in the Alpha course, which was first developed in this very church. The building has both upstairs and ground level. There is a round place at the front for the musicians and clergy. Further down is a refreshment area and a bookshop. Just outside is a big green grass area with trees and seats, where they at times meet.
The church: Officially known as Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul's, Onslow Square, HTB meets at two other venues in London besides this one, and has planted more than a dozen churches in the greater London area. As mentioned, the Alpha course was first developed here in 1977 and quickly gained worldwide attention. Their other ministries are well described on their website. They offer a downloadable app called The Bible In One Year, which explores a number of contemporary topics in relation to the Bible.
The neighbourhood: HTB is beside the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Science Museum. The streets beside them are very busy with many cars, bikes and buses. There are many, many shops all along there. Not far away are a Roman Catholic church and a Church of Scotland.
The cast: The Revd Chris Lee and the Revd Toby Flint, both curates.
The date & time: Sunday, 14 April 2013, 7.00pm.

What was the name of the service?
Informal Service of Worship, Teaching and Ministry.

How full was the building?
There must have been 500 or 600 people. The ground floor was very full, and there were also some people upstairs.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I arrived, I was welcomed by a woman at the door, who showed me the way into the church and where to sit. She told me that the hymns would all be shown above the musicians at the front.

Was your pew comfortable?
There are no pews. We all had light brown wood seats, with extra bits in front of them with the Bibles there.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was full of adults chatting. Many had got their coffee (available only before the service) and had brought it in. As many arrived, they had to look to find seats.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome all!" This was followed by prayers for peace and an exhortation to love Jesus, as Jesus has loved us.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We all had The Holy Bible, New International Version. The hymns were all shown up ahead of us above the singers and musicians.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, and several guitars, and several singers.

Did anything distract you?
Lots of people arriving with their coffee and keeping it during the service.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
An informal service. Everyone seemed to enjoy singing the hymns, and many raised their hands and waved them around often. The teaching was Bible based, and it brought to mind the hymn I used to sing as a child: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so."

Exactly how long was the sermon?
30 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The preacher gave us very positive ways to love and belong to God.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ saved us, as we and our ancestors misbehaved. Jesus is against death. He went into death and raised us out of it, free. He destroyed the last enemy. Sin has been completely dealt with by Jesus. Be baptised if you believe in Christ; go down under water and then up to God. We all belong to Jesus, who is fully God and fully man. The Doubting Thomas put his finger into Jesus' wounds in order to believe. If we open the door of our hearts, Jesus will enter.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
With all the preaching about God's love and care and rescue of us, I felt close to God, loving God and being loved by God. The musicians and the singers were also excellent. Will we sing in heaven?

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The modifications to the building, including projection screens, made it hard to see the stained glass and other artwork.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The people beside me spoke to me, having previously given me the peace. They asked about the bus routes near the church.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was all before the service and I had not arrived early enough to get any. But those who had seemed to be enjoying it!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I felt very happy to see so many people there. There was a positive atmosphere full of the love and kindness of God. If I lived closer, I would consider joining.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, I felt like a Christian who would always continue to Love God. I feel that I would never abandon that.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
"Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!"
 
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