Berrymead Evangelical, Acton

Berrymead Evangelical, Acton, London

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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Berrymead Evangelical
Location: Acton, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 16 September 2012, 7:00pm

The building

Built in the late 19th century, it is a plain stone building from the outside. Inside, it has a pretty grey floor and some bright mauve-pink paint on the walls. There are a few old little pretty bits on some windows, but others have had to be mended and are now just plain.

The church

They are an independent evangelical church in the spirit of the Plymouth Brethren or Open Brethren or Christian Brethren. They are a member of the Evangelical Alliance as well as Partnership and Churches Together in Acton and Ealing Common. They run a Monday Club for young teenagers, a Thursday Club for children ages six through eleven, and a Friday club for older teenagers. Coffee morning is held every Tuesday. There is also Bible study and a prayer meeting.

The neighborhood

Acton is a district of west London primarily in the borough of Ealing. Several natural springs were discovered in the 17th century, and for a while Action enjoyed a reputation as a health spa. By the end of the 19th century the area was known as Soapsuds Island due to the large number of laundries located there. Many of the wealthy families in London's West End, and many of London's most fashionable hotels, had their laundry done in Acton. The district became a major industrial centre in the 20th century and was subject to bombing raids during World War II (most of the bombs missed their targets due to cloud cover). Today's Action is an eclectic mixture of Australian, Japanese, Somali, Polish, and several other ethnic immigrant communities. There is a large tree-filled garden near the church, a favourite playground for children. Up the road there are plenty of shops.

The cast

Mr Peter Dean led the service.

What was the name of the service?

Evening Communion Service.

How full was the building?

There were 18 people present – a mixture of people from all over, in keeping with the ethnic makeup of the area. There was plenty of room.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Someone said, "Nice to meet you! Welcome!"

Was your pew comfortable?

Very comfortable chairs had been arranged in a circle. We stood for hymns, prayers and Bible readings, and sat for communion.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

People chatted to each other as Bibles and hymnbooks were being passed around.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Let us worship God."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

The Holy Bible, New International Version, and Songs of Fellowship.

What musical instruments were played?

None. A piano stood silent.

Did anything distract you?

We sang quite a lot of hymns and it was somewhat of a fuss to find them all in the hymnal. People around me were very helpful, though.

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

One woman clapped and put her arm up, but the rest of us were more demure. A table had been set up in the centre of the circle of chairs, with bread and wine for communion. We were each given a bit of bread to share and a little wine to drink together.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

5 minutes.

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

8 – The preacher spoke clearly and on a personal level.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

His texts were Luke 23:20 (the crowd demands that Pilate crucify Jesus); 2 Corinthians 8:9 (Jesus became poor for our sake); and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (Christ died for all). Jesus died for all who lived. He died for me so that I could live for him. We acknowledge the cup, his blood shed so that we may be forgiven. Jesus gave himself unconditionally for us. We must always remember that.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The prayers and hymns were very moving, as was the communion service.

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

The fact that no one was on hand to play the piano.

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

The gentleman who collected Bibles and hymnbooks said, "Good to see you tonight."

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

I was led to believe that none was on offer.

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

5 – It's a four hour round trip from where I live.

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

Yes – I felt the great love and care of God, and Jesus rescuing me and the others.

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

The positive message about Jesus as the means by which we get to heaven and to God.

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