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3256: All Saints, Glossop, England
All Saints, Glossop
Mystery Worshipper: Vulpus Peregrinus.
The church: All Saints, Glossop, Derbyshire, England.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Derby.
The building: A Large Victorian building dating from 1831, with parts added as late as 1923, replacing several older structures dating back to medieval times. The clock dates back to 1883; its original mechanism is still in working order. It has only a westward-oriented face, unusual for a church clock. A ring of bells dates from 1923. Inside, there is some nice stained glass and a stunning modern window depicting the mill town's development.
The church: Quoting from their website: "As a community we seek to be inclusive, and welcoming of the variety and diversity of human experience." Their mode of worship is High Church Catholic. They have an "open church drop-in" each month featuring arts and crafts, reading, meditation, and tending the churchyard. They celebrate family eucharist each Sunday, plus they have an early traditional Common Worship eucharist and evening prayer on the first Sunday of the month. There is also a mid-week eucharist on Wednesdays and evening prayer on Fridays.
The neighbourhood: Glossop, in Derbyshire, lies about 15 miles east of Manchester. It is called the Gateway to the Peak District National Park, an area of great natural beauty and the first national park to be created in the United Kingdom. There are three excellent pubs beside the church and stunning views up to the High Peaks from every corner.
The cast: The parish is in interregnum at the moment. Today's service was taken by the Revd Norman Shaw, associate priest, assisted by lay minister/reader Michael Wilson.
The date & time: Bible Sunday, 29 October 2017, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Family Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Poorly attended. About 30 in the congregation but with an altar party and choir of 12 persons.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was welcomed at the door with all the right books and leaflets. The whole church shared the peace with me as they did each other. The clergy also shared with everyone and especially welcomed me too.

Was your pew comfortable?
The wooden seats were comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Generally quiet and meditative, allowing for the quiet greeting at the door. A microphone had been left accidentally live where the children were collecting their colouring pencils, which was more amusing than distracting.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome, especially if you a visitor or attending for the first time."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
English Hymnal, locally produced service booklet of communion extracted from Common Worship, weekly pew-sheet of notices.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ for almost all of the service but piano for the gradual hymn. The organ is a 1910 opus of Norman and Beard of Norwich and had originally been installed in the local Unitarian church.

Did anything distract you?
Some beautiful colours on the walls as sun shone through the stained glass. But the only significant unpleasant distraction was my phone, which I had forgotten to silence.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The style was high church: incense, bells, candles – but both gentle and dignified. I did not feel I was watching a performance; rather, I was uplifted by the ritual.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
14 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – The Revd Norman Shaw's sermon was informative and friendly without being patronising. He did not preach from the pulpit, which was fine for a small congregation. He spoke clearly and in a friendly and personal way without notes, so one felt he was sharing himself with us and not delivering a lecture. The sermon was totally relevant to the theme of the collect.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
As it was Bible Sunday, he spoke about the use of the Bible as history, good stories, examples of godly living, and words of Jesus. He reminded us that what was written was of a time and reflects the writers and their time. He told us to read, mark, learn, but not to be afraid to criticise and find how it works for you.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Not every service has to be a heavenly experience. But this was as spiritually uplifting as one would expect for a normal Sunday.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The embarrassment of realising it was my phone making noises during the intercessions. Also, the sight lines were not good, so I had to lean to one side to see around the person in front of me.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people invited me to coffee. A baptism party was also due to arrive, so people were looking out to welcome that group. Yet both priest and reader took the time to speak with me without any pressure to join or return.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Good hot coffee in china and with biscuits and cake.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I was made to feel warmly welcome. It was good to be at a service where one already knew the ritual and books and when to stand or sit. And it certainly was a pleasure not to be quizzed on whether one would join the parish, attend groups or events, etc., but merely to have a pleasurable conversation and be wished a good time in the town and hope to meet again. Someone even recommended a good local pub to go to for a meal and to escape trick-or-treat.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The recommendations for a good local pub!
 
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