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228: St Paul's Anglican Fellowship, South Kensington, London
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St Paul's, South Kensington, London
Mystery Worshipper: Church-Hunter.
The church: St Paul's Anglican Fellowship, South Kensington, London, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Very traditional-looking from the outside, but modern-ish inside (pews have been removed).
The neighbourhood: The church is in Onslow Square, in the posh part of town.
The cast: Rog Phillips, welcome; Matt Hemsley, worship leader; Jo Soper, talk.
What was the name of the service?
Evening Service.

How full was the building?
Fairly bulging – pretty good as this was the middle of the holiday season.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I got a quick smile from one of the door stewards handing out Bibles.

Was your pew comfortable?
No pew, but fairly comfortable plastic chairs.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Full of noisy chat and gossip.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good evening, I'd like to welcome you to St Paul's, particularly if you're here for the first time."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The NIV Bible. Words for the songs appeared on an overhead projector screen.

What musical instruments were played?
Synth, guitar, drums, violin.

Did anything distract you?
The mike stand creaked something awful (very rude noises!).

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Free-style charismatic – a mixture of Vineyard, Matt Redman, etc.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
27 minutes.

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

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
What influences the way we approach issues and changes in life, dealing with suffering, God's discipline and how we react to it, being in a position where we are compelled to turn to God when there is no human answer.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
"I sing a simple song of love", played by the band immediately pre-sermon and the general atmosphere during ministry time post-sermon, especially the leader's comments that we are loved as we are, we don't have to get good first.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The two minutes after the leader said, "Let's take a break so you can talk to the person next to you for a few minutes," and no one talked to me until I turned round and the guy in the row behind started chatting. Then I found out it was his first time there.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not a lot. Everyone ignored me, till someone I happened to know walked by and I got chatting to him.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
In a foam cup, but hot and good. Lots of chocolate bickies to choose from.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5. The worship was wonderful, but I felt that you could easily get lost or ignored in the crowd in this church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. I didn't go forward at the end for ministry time but soaked up the worshipful and peaceful atmosphere.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The squeaky mike stand!
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