|39: St Anne's, Stanley, Liverpool, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Barth Simpson.
The church: St Anne's, Stanley, Liverpool.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Victorian barn in old red sandstone.
The neighbourhood: At first glance, the neighbourhood looks like a rough version of a Londoner's worst impression of Liverpool (see photo). However, most of the houses are owner-occupied and extremely well looked after.
The cast: The service was led by Rev. Lena Prince, and the sermon/homily was delivered by a Lay Reader whose name escapes me.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Less than half full (but it seats 400).
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, the Church Warden greeted me at the door, took a friendly interest in me and gave me a hymn book and notice sheets.
Was your pew comfortable?
It rocked no, this isn't a compliment. It actually rocked back and forth. A bit narrow, too (I'm not a big fan of pews).
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Noisy but reverential, in an organ-crashingly awesome kind of way. It worked. In fact, the organist was very capable, blending his introductory voluntary into the first hymn seamlessly. Astonishingly, we all knew when to start singing this is a rare talent. Most organists seem to pause for applause at every opportunity.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.'
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised, and the notice sheet.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, plus a 16-strong robed choir, mostly children.
Did anything distract you?
The Church is attended by members of the local L'Arche Community, a form of Christian communal living inspired by a French priest, Jean Vanier. The communities consist of disabled and able-bodied people who seek to serve Christ together in the world. The distraction had nothing to do with the disabled worshippers. Instead, it came because these communities always attract a certain kind of obviously caring (but often quite shy) type of woman, the kind that invariably attracts me. She was gorgeous.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Formal Anglo-Catholic stuff: processions, candles, rituals, little sung bits of liturgy, but surprisingly no incense.