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87: Christ Church, Lancaster, England
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Christ Church, Lancaster
Mystery Worshipper: Metherer & Housemate.
The church: Christ Church, Lancaster, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Big, beautiful, with a vaulted roof and fine decoration. A joy for me to worship in.
The cast: Rev Brenda Harding, curate of the church.
What was the name of the service?
Parish Eucharist.

How full was the building?
Half full – many people were away on summer holiday, including the vicar.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, two people before the service, half a dozen in the peace, and a few more after the service.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews in the church are very comfortable, but we sat in the side chapel, on padded seats. Excellent!

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Very friendly, with lots of people chatting.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to Christ Church. And a specially warm welcome to all those who are worshipping here for the first time." Hmm, did she mean us?

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A printed sheet containing all seven hymns, plus a Holy Communion Rite A book, with the third eucharistic prayer missing. It must have dropped out. Guess which eucharistic prayer we used?

What musical instruments were played?
Just the organ.

Did anything distract you?
The first reader had a very nasal voice, so I was wincing at that rather than listening to what he was saying. Plus the organ music was grindingly slow.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
My friend and co-conspirator said it was very stiff-upper-lip, but to me it was a happy medium between traditional and modern. I feel it struck the balance just right.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
13 minutes and 5.5 seconds exactly.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
My friend said 5, but I thought 9, because she had to think on her feet. She had planned a child-friendly sermon, but no kids came to the service today!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It built on the reading about the feeding of the 5,000, and ended with a comparison between the feeding and the eucharist.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Probably all the wonderfully friendly people there. They were all interested in who we were. Understandably, I didn't tell them about Mystery Worshipping...

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Having to consume a soggy communion wafer.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We didn't get a chance. As soon as we stood up, a lady who had introduced herself before the service came over for a chat.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee was strong, but nice. They had run out of biscuits, though. There was a bowl out for donations towards costs, but it was all basically free.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 – especially since it has just become my local parish church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it was very positive.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I think it was the way everyone was so welcoming and interested in us. My friend thinks that he will most remember thinking: "Oh my God. Everyone is going to think we are married!"
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