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73: St Woolos Cathedral, Newport, Wales
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St Woolos Cathedral, Newport, Wales
Mystery Worshipper: Esmerelda Beakin.
The church: St Woolos Cathedral, Newport, Wales.
Denomination: Church in Wales.
The building: This ancient building has some traces of the original Anglo-Saxon church, dating to AD800. The entrance is through the St Mary's (Galilee) Chapel, built in Norman times, and the east end has a mural and window by John Piper. St Woolos gained full cathedral status in 1949 and is the cathedral church of the Diocese of Monmouth.
The neighbourhood: The cathedral stands on a hill overlooking Newport and the hills beyond. It is in a middle-class neighbourhood, with a pub, the Fizog and Firkin, across the road.
The cast: Celebrant: Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams, Bishop of Monmouth. Preacher: Rt Rev Henry Orumbi, Bishop of Nebbi, Uganda.
What was the name of the service?
Ordination of deacons and priests.

How full was the building?
Very full, although no one that I could see had to stand.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As a friend of mine was on duty, she greeted me with "there's no room for you!" as she showed me to my seat.

Was your pew comfortable?
I was so taken up with everything during the service that I didn't notice. So it must have been fairly comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Excited, with people greeting each other. Five minutes before the service started, one of the cathedral chaplains read the notices and then there was complete silence.

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?
"The Book of Common Prayer for Use in the Church in Wales – the Ordination of Priests and Deacons". Plus a sheet with the hymns on.

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
Some people kept taking photos during the service. The leaping up and down and the flashbulbs were somewhat annoying.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Dignified, joyful, powerful and deeply moving.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – what I could hear was good. However, his accent was sometimes difficult to understand.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Here I am, Lord; send me."

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
All of it, but most especially when the newly-ordained priests knelt down to receive their Bibles, chalices and pattens. They knelt down in alb and deacon's stole and stood up fully vested as priests, which was very powerful. The symbolism hit me hard.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Those who took photos.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I wasn't able to. We gathered outside for greetings and photographs, then went off for lunch.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There wasn't any.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8. I do sometimes attend St Woolos.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The moment of ordination.
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