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  1055: Covent Garden Evangelical, Covent Garden, London

Covent Garden Evangelical, Covent Garden, London

Mystery Worshipper: JJB.
The church: Covent Garden Evangelical, Nottingham Court, Covent Garden, London WC2.
Denomination: Evangelical.
The building: The building is essentially a fairly typical 80s functional block, with plenty of glass windows. There's a café called The Vine on the Neal Street side, which looks quite welcoming. The church entrance is at the back, and is much less welcoming as there is so little suggestion that this might be a church.
The church community: The building here is owned by London City Mission, who run the café. The church runs Christian outreach in the local area and has a partner church in Soho. Covent Garden Evangelical itself has only seven members. The building is also used for Thursday lunchtime teaching services by St Helen's, Bishopsgate.
The neighbourhood: Covent Garden is a vibrant place, full of tourists from London and beyond. There are not many local residents, as rents are high and most of the properties are commercial buildings. Nottingham Court, off which the church part of the building opens, is an unprepossessing and rather smelly alleyway (see picture above).
The cast: The leader was Derek Sewell; the preacher was Andrew Murray.
Comment: We have received a comment on this report.

What was the name of the service?
Sunday worship.

How full was the building?
The church room is quite small, and was comfortably full with about 35 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Oh yes! As a new face I got lots of attention before and after the service, from both the ministers and from two female members of the congregation.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a padded chair, and was very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It felt more like students waiting for a lecture, rather than a congregation waiting for a service to start. There were also four old ladies in the back row who were determined to talk to their friends.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to our service this morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The New International Version of the Bible. And Praise! – psalms, hymns and songs for Christian worship.

What musical instruments were played?
Guitar and keyboard.

Did anything distract you?
The aforementioned old ladies were very funny, as they kept talking to each other, and also heckled the minister. There were a couple of small babies crawling around, too.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was fairly typical low-church evangelical, with a longish sermon, sober singing and no eucharist. There was a big emphasis on being "settled in God".

Covent Garden Evangelical, Covent Garden, London

Exactly how long was the sermon?
43 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – He was quite good, though slightly patronising in his tone and definitely self-referential in his style.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
There was no mention of anything political at all. It was centred on Daniel 2:1-23, and focused on hearing and obeying God's word over and above worldly wisdom. There was also a big focus on evangelism, not suprisingly. One of the good points made was that God can disturb anyone's peace of mind, however powerful they may be. We were also told that not everyone is going to heaven: only those who trust Christ will be saved.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The welcome seemed very genuine, and was certainly warm.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The intercessions! They were breathy, incoherent and very parochial, and they distracted me from praying. They were also too long.

If intercessory prayers were said, what issues were raised?
Thanks be to God for his love, justice and infinite wisdom. God is in control. Thanks for the opportunity to praise and bear witness to God in this place. We pray for those who mourn... and for a couple from CGEC who are on a mission in Bournemouth... and also for an open air mission in Covent Garden in June. Nothing political or extra-mural was mentioned.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A woman in front turned round to talk to me. One of the ministers gave me a coffee and engaged me in conversation about the mission. He described central London as "a dark place, spiritually". I wondered to myself how St Paul's, Covent Garden, would react to such a remark!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Fair-trade coffee in a proper mug. Custard cream biscuits.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
3 – The welcome is what salvaged an uninspiring service.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Not particularly. The remark in the sermon that "as Christians, we know where we're going because Christ died for us" was irritating and smug, rather than affirming. As a mission church, they seem disengaged from the local area. I did wonder how they would react if one of Covent Garden's more flamboyant characters were to turn up for a service.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The hilarious old ladies in the back row, and the consternation they caused to everyone.
 
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