|56: St Giles, Northampton, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Germaine.
The church: St Giles, Northampton, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Outside it seems a typical 800 year old Anglican church, with big stones, saints on the windows and a tower.
The neighbourhood: The church is a minute's walk from the high street, set back from the roads in a big, green graveyard.
The cast: The minister is David Bird but the service was led by the 'Family Service Team', with preaching by Mike Coe. Rev Bird was wielding a guitar and was conspicuous in a yellow and pink patchwork shirt.
What was the name of the service?
Mothering Sunday Parade Service.
How full was the building?
Mostly occupied by several hundred people, including a full contingent of Scouts, Brownies, Cubs, Rainbows, etc.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
An unfortunate timing mishap meant that I arrived late. I sneaked in quietly to sit at the back, so no one had time to welcome me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Individual chairs with padding and book holders.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The during-the-service atmosphere into which I slunk was noisy gossiping and happy rowdiness. For a moment I thought I was on time after all.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
The first words I heard spoken from the leaders were: 'OK, you can talk about the football results later.'
What books did the congregation use during the service?
'Mission Praise' and St Giles's own burgundy book of modern hymns. The service was a bring-your-own-Bible affair unfortunate, since I hadn't.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, guitar, drums and woodwind.
Did anything distract you?
The scouts exited the parade service with a merry disregard for the window above the door. They advanced towards it at speed with the metal flag pole aiming straight for the glass. Collision was narrowly averted as a leader dived towards them and wrenched the pole backwards.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Broadly enthusiastic, with very modern songs and the occasional bit of dancing. The worship was inclusive of all ages and video-linked to the parents in the creche.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes on God and mothers, 4 on interviewing the Rainbows, and the accompanying bonus mini-sermon was 2 mins.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The image of God as a protective mother hen is a good way of describing what God is like. The bonus sermon was on how we should try to keep the promises we make to God.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Waving to the parents in creche-exile.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
'And now our children's worker is going to lead us in some action songs...' It took great restraint not to run away during the fifth repetition of:
'Oh its great, great, brill, brill,
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was offered a Mother's Day sweet by a child and headed towards the door where a member of the welcome team identified me as new and introduced herself.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't partake, but noticed they were serving Café Direct hooray for fair trade! The marzipan and iced gem sweet I'd been given was great.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7. The atmosphere was wonderful, but I'd miss singing older hymns (that is, pre-1990).
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, my friend and I wanted to spend the next two hours singing worship songs.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The child who, when asked about his mum's best quality, said: 'She wobbles a lot.'