St Augustine, Christchurch

St Augustine's, Cashmere, Christchurch, New Zealand


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Mystery Worshipper: Nengscoz
Church: St Augustine's
Location: Cashmere, Christchurch, New Zealand
Date of visit: Sunday, 6 February 2011, 9:15am

The building

Nestled in the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch, this white wooden building is charming and beautiful. The 1970s mustard and wooden interior is, however, slightly nauseating.

The church

There is a wide range of ages attending the church, although unmarried young professionals seem to be missing, as usual.

The neighborhood

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and the church is located in the highly-sought-after area of the Port Hills, Cashmere, which has beautiful views over the city and Pegasus Bay. The church is in a residential area, about 15 minutes hike up the hill. There was an air of peace and tranquillity in the area.

The cast

The vicar, the Revd Philip Lyes, presided. The Revd Kevin Tapper, pastoral priest, preached.

What was the name of the service?

Holy Communion.

How full was the building?

Every pew was filled but there was room for people to seat themselves politely about a metre away from each other. There were approximately 40 people in attendance.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

I was not initially welcomed; I had to reach round a gossiping lady to grab an order of service.

Was your pew comfortable?

Cushioned and comfy.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?


What were the exact opening words of the service?

I missed the opening words, as I was then being greeted by someone who realised I was visiting.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

No books, just a printed sheet with the service from the New Zealand Prayer Book.

What musical instruments were played?


Did anything distract you?

I tried to avoid looking at the mustard-coloured carpet throughout the service. It was also the hottest day of the year.

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

The service was a mellow form of stiff-upper-lip: the organ played, the choir sang hymns, everyone joined in, but we were not reading from books and technology was used to project the words on a screen.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

26 minutes.

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

8 – The Revd Kevin Tapper grabbed my attention and held it. He started by playing the famous introduction to the original Star Trek. He also discussed the book Just Walk Across the Room, which he had read while on sabbatical.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The Star Trek moment served as an excellent hook and was then used as a comparison. As the members of the Star Trek voyage had boldly gone where no man had gone before, we as Christians should also "boldly go" out and spread our faith. Evangelising is hard and can be awkward, but it can be done. We were encouraged, when approaching the subject of God with non-Christians, to allow the Holy Spirit to help us develop friendships, discover stories and discern the next steps, which explained the title of the sermon: "Living in 3D".

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

I enjoyed the tidy, ordered and traditional communion, and being in a church with an organ and a choir.

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

The mustard-coloured carpet!

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

No need – I was greeted by name by the vicar at the end of the service, guided into the coffee room by a friendly member of the congregation, and then approached by another who started up a conversation with me.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Hot tea and coffee – slightly unnecessary on the hottest day of the year. There was also a delicious array of cakes and biscuits.

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

9 – Everybody was so welcoming and friendly. I was particularly impressed at how the vicar greeted me by name on the way to coffee. I had only given my name to one person and that was at the very start of the service!

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


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

The friendly, welcoming people.

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