All Saints, Streetly

All Saints, Streetly, West Midlands, England


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: All Saints
Location: Streetly, West Midlands, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 17 March 2013, 11:00am

The building

The cornerstone for the original church was laid in 1908, and the church was consecrated a year later as a mission church. The parish was not formed until 1918. The building was enlarged in 1953 to include a new nave, chancel and sanctuary; the Lady chapel and south aisle now constitute the original structure. There is some lovely stained glass as well as fixtures from the early to mid 20th century.

The church

All Saints enjoys a rich eucharistic and choral tradition. Combined with this, the church likes to explore new ways to worship, such as Messy Church. Theologically, the congregation are broadly liberal and seek to welcome all who come to worship with them. The service sheet indicates there are a large number of services and activities taking place.

The neighborhood

Streetly is situated approximately seven miles north of Birmingham in an affluent area. It takes its name from a Roman road, the line of which can still be seen. Boasting a small number of shops, the area has a lovely feel and is only a couple of minutes walk from open fields.

The cast

I'm not sure of the name of the gentleman who led the service. The website indicates he may have been the Revd Jeremy Blunt, ordained local minister. A lay member, Carol, delivered the sermon. The vicar, the Revd Mandy Walker, was greeting people as they arrived.

What was the name of the service?

All Age Worship with Communion.

How full was the building?

There seemed to be around 45 people, including the children.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

As I arrived, the vicar gave me a very warm welcome and seemed very pleased to see me. Nevertheless, I managed to make it through the two sets of doors, down the aisle and into a pew without acquiring a hymn book or service sheet. Being astute, I made the executive decision to replay my arrival, this time being sure to pick up the necessary materials.

Was your pew comfortable?

The pew was simple in design and made of wood. The cushion made it perfectly comfortable for the 45 minute service. Beware, however, of the open back to the pew – high risk of disappearing coats!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Pre-service, the church seemed a little quiet, although there were adults and children milling about. All in all, they created a warm family atmosphere. On further inspection, I noticed people partaking of a warming cup of tea next door between the previous service of sung eucharist and the upcoming all age worship.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good morning, everybody."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New and Service of Worship for All Ages (printed specifically for All Saints Streetly).

What musical instruments were played?

Piano and violin. The violin was impressively played by the service leader.

Did anything distract you?

The first hymn was played at a furious rate, although even at a normal rate the congregation seemed to struggle with the hymns.

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

Somewhere in the middle, the congregation didn't seem very confident at singing. It felt like I was leading the singing!

Exactly how long was the sermon?

7 minutes.

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

7 – Carol's preaching style was appropriately informal and drew out relevant questions from the passage.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Carol spoke about how Mary expressed her love for Jesus by anointing his feet with oil. How can we express our love for Jesus? By giving our best and giving our lives.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The communion had an amazing family atmosphere where everyone lined up in the aisle. The children helped the service leader with communion and then served all the members of the congregation – really interesting format.

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

The congregation's lack of confidence with the hymns made it feel like I had turned up as a guest lead singer for the band. The best bit of all is that I sound like an asthmatic moose shouting through a tannoy.

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

The congregation entered into the usual post-service hubbub. After a short period of time a lady spoke to me.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

No after service-coffee; coffee was served prior to the service.

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

8 – This is a lovely family church with a real community atmosphere. It would be great to join the community.

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

Yes, the family atmosphere was excellent. The church seems to be a well knit community who are genuine and authentic in what they do.

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

The service leader's multiple roles: service leader, violinist, reader, chief candle manager and families worker.

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