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230: Sandown Baptist Church, Sandown, Isle of Wight, England
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Sandown Baptist Church, Sandown, Isle of Wight, England
Mystery Worshipper: Mystery Librarian.
The church: Sandown Baptist Church, Sandown, Isle of Wight, England.
Denomination: Baptist.
The building: Fairly typical early 20th century one-storey non-conformist church building.
The neighbourhood: The church is just 10 minutes from the seafront at Sandown and the immediate area consists mainly of seaside hotels and guest houses with some residential accommodation.
The cast: Rev. M.J. Mumby – the minister.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship with Communion.

How full was the building?
At least three-quarters full, though there were more empty seats after the children and teachers had left part-way through the service to join in "God's Fun Club" in the rear premises.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
One lady greeted me with a handshake and a service sheet as I arrived.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, I think so. I certainly was not aware of any particular discomfort.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The atmosphere was chatty, with a steady buzz of conversation, though this diminished to a certain extent as the start of the service approached.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, family. We do give you a warm welcome this morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Pew Bibles (New International Version); Songs of Fellowship Complete Words Edition (with the words also projected by an OHP); printed service sheet.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano and guitar.

Did anything distract you?
Not really.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was a fairly standard non-comformist service, though contemporary worship songs outnumbered the more traditional hymns. There was no clapping and only a few raised arms.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
11 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – I thought that the preaching was a bit lightweight, though possibly there would have been more substance if this had not been a communion service. Also, perhaps one should not expect too much heavy theology in a service where many of the congregation were holidaymakers.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Jesus said "no" to certain things (such as temptation, mindless prayer, miracles as party tricks, the use of violence and selfish ambition), and we should also be prepared to say "no" on occasion with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Heaven is probably too strong a word, but it was a good service with a good sense of worship.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing really, though there was a bit too much singing for my personal liking.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Two members of the congregation spoke to me, and one of them invited me to her home for tea. However, as the lady in question was a former member of my own home church, this was probably not entirely typical of the church's hospitality!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't actually make it to the refreshment table as I was talking to the lady mentioned above. Coffee was served, however, and many of the worshippers took advantage of it.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I would almost certainly make this my regular church if I lived in the Isle of Wight.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The extra verse added to Graham Kendrick's "Jesus Stand Among Us", which made it much more specifically a hymn for a communion service.
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