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112: Friary United Reformed Church, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, England
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Friary United Reformed Church, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire
Mystery Worshipper: A. Pewlover.
The church: Friary United Reformed Church, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire.
Denomination: United Reformed Church.
The building: The church has a turn-of-the-century Victorian exterior. Some of the interior was recently rebuilt (a plaque mentions an official opening in late 1997), but the actual worship area seems virtually unchanged.
The neighbourhood: Very close to Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. The neighbourhood looked poorer than the people coming into the church.
The cast: Rev Malcolm Hanson, Moderator of the East Midlands Synod of the URC, was the visiting preacher.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Service.

How full was the building?
About half full, which was about 60 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was given a notice/service sheet and welcome on my way in.

Was your pew comfortable?
No, the pew was very uncomfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quite noisy conversation while the organ was playing.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to our morning service."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
"Rejoice and Sing" (URC hymnbook).

What musical instruments were played?
Organ and piano.

Did anything distract you?
Cluttered furniture in the chancel (behind where the service was being led) – there was a surplus of tables and a bookcase.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Stiff-upper-lip, definitely. Very traditional nonconformist worship.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
19 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Fighting together for Christ. This was a positive talk about using traditional images of battle and military-type imagery in a non-destructive and up-to-date way.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Singing such wonderful hymns as "Praise my soul the King of heaven" and "Be thou my vision", in a congregation large enough not to notice my contribution.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The anthem. The choir tackled a piece by John Rutter, a 20th-century composer of church music. They didn't perform it as well as it could have been (by a long way).

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Various people came to talk to me.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea, in plastic cups which were thrown away.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – it might get a bit boring week after week, as there was no participation for the congregation apart from the hymns and the Lord's Prayer.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, because of the sermon.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The preacher's style and the messages of the sermon.
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