|125: All Saints, Figtree, Wollongong, Australia|
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Mystery Worshipper: Liturgical Snooper.
The church: All Saints, Figtree, Wollongong, Australia.
Denomination: Anglican (Diocese of Sydney).
The building: A modern Polynesian style, with a high roof and a touch of Pizza Hut, with seating for about 250 and an additional 400 overflow.
The neighbourhood: Middle Australia in the southern steel city of Wollongong and 80 kilometres south of the Sydney.
The cast: of many... clowns, young dancers, live farmyard animals, singers, musos, a lay worship leader and a Senior Pastor (the Rector, Dr Rod Irvine), who was dressed like a layman in blue shirt, tie and smart dacs.
What was the name of the service?
Christmas Eve Family Celebration at 5pm (followed by a 7pm, 9pm and 11pm Communion).
How full was the building?
Quite full, pleasingly so, as this was the first of the Christmas Eve meetings. The body of the church was packed and the overflow was almost there, with 450 adults, plus teens and a hoard of children.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes! Multiple welcomes from ushers and hander-outers of leaflets and pencils. Even the regulars seemed primed with a quick but chatty hello.
Was your pew comfortable?
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Chatty. Thronging. Happiness was in the air, along with a sense of "get a decent chair because there's going to be a crowd."
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"A warm welcome to our Christmas Eve Service, and especially if you are a visitor tonight."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
If you were a visiting Anglican, you would be mightily disappointed, as not a book was used.
What musical instruments were played?
A cacophony of great sound with a contemporary band (electric pianos, multiple guitars, brass plus three young lead singers).
Did anything distract you?
The Rector's slightly raspy voice I wondered how he would last the distance with three more services to go that night.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
About as happy as a non-charismatic Sydney evangelical meeting can be. Obviously lots of practice, high quality co-ordination, design and expertise all round. Targetted to families and grandparents, who were all pretty pleased.