Kensington Temple, London (Exterior)

Kensington Temple, Notting Hill, London


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Kensington Temple
Location: Notting Hill, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 8 December 2013, 7:00pm

The building

A large church, built in 1849 as Horbury Chapel, an outreach of a nearby Congregational church, and acquired in 1931 by the Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance. It appears to have changed hands several times between then and 1965, when the Elim Pentecostals took possession of "the empty, dusty building" (quoting from their website). At some time during that period it acquired the name Kensington Temple. Romanesque on the outside, the inside uses every available space for worship: gallery, sanctuary and basement. The walls are yellow, with a purple light at the front.

The church

According to their website, they are "a large, international, multi-cultural community of charismatic Christians" with "an international ministry of planting churches, equipping local churches and encouraging ministries." The London City Church network boasts "over 130 churches ... networking together as one body ... linked in strong relationship to fulfill the mandate of Christ." I refer you to their website for a listing and description of their many ministries and activities.

The neighborhood

Kensington Temple is in Notting Hill, an area of West London much favoured by the upper middle classes in Victorian times. Many of the buildings were damaged by bombs during World War II but have been rebuilt. Today's residents live in a mixture of new as well as old-fashioned homes. There are very many shops close to the church, as well as many buses and a tube area. It's also not far from the King and Queen's Park.

The cast

Bruce Atkinson led the service and preached the sermon.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Evening Service.

How full was the building?

There were many adults, about 200. There were lots of people who seemed to be from all over the world, all Christians.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

As I went in, someone told me that there wan't anything to hand out, as everything would be projected onto screens. Once I was seated, the people next to me chatted to me.

Was your pew comfortable?

We all sat in very comfortable blue seats. We all stood up for quite a while, though, as we sang.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Everyone was chatting and the musicians and singers were getting together. Many were early and there were also others who came later!

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good evening, everyone! Time to pray! Thank you, Jesus!" And we all clapped to Jesus.

What books did the congregation use during the service?


What musical instruments were played?

There was a piano, and four guitars and drums, and quite a few who were singing, and also two who danced during a long hymn. They were all very excellent.

Did anything distract you?

I wished I had brought my Bible with me, or at least that the readings had been provided, so I could read them as well as hear them.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

They showed us how to hang our arms out and clap and wave at God. So we all did not stay absolutely still. We did better than in many churches! The music singing was excellent as well as the prayer for people who were ill.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

60 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 – Bruce Atkinson preached very clearly and calmly, but raised his voice now and then to make a point. He made some humourous remarks, such as you wouldn't expect to see a Pharisee at a Pentecostal service. He also spoke of the late Nelson Mandela and how miraculous it was that he was able to change the nature of South Africa.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Don't worry about anything in life. You Father, King, Lord, looks after you. Christianity is a "heart" religion. "Ticking all the boxes" on the outside simply won't do! God draws near to us. The Holy Spirit is good and nice to us. The Lord is gracious, just and merciful, and his glory and holiness help us to be good. The Holy Spirit can transform lives. You have to open your heart to the Holy Spirit. Very few people are open to be disciples. Don't ever give up. Encourage others not to give up. God gives us a promise. Do something for God.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

It was wonderful for us and the singers and musicians and the two who danced, and we also put our hands up to God and waved to God. We felt like being connected to Heaven!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

I felt not always connected to my family who have died, and I do not know yet if they are in heaven or still waiting.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

Many people spoke with me and took me to have tea or coffee. And they also showed me the way downstairs to get to the toilet.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

There was nice tea and coffee.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – If I lived near this church I might decide to belong to it. I enjoyed visiting it! It seems to be a good one!

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

I was glad to be a Christian and to sing about God and to hear about Father, Jesus, Spirit, and belonging to God.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

I will remember what it looked like inside and how full of people it was, not like the kirk I belonged to back home.

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