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329: Keyworth Methodist, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, England
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Keyworth Methodist, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire
Mystery Worshipper: Alguhas.
The church: Keyworth Methodist, Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, England.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: Standard issue Victorian Methodist church with multicolour brick walls, plain windows with rounded arches and a refurbished modern church hall round the back. The interior features plain walls, three blocks of wooden pews, a raised dais at the front and an electronic organ.
The church: Keyworth Methodist is involved in community and social work with plenty of meetings relating to domestic and overseas charities, as well as parish social activities. It also has links with the other Christian churches in the village, including participation in a joint Christian "Procession of Witness" on Good Friday.
The neighbourhood: The church is across the road from the Anglican church and next door to the local pub.
The cast: Rev A. Barker.
What was the name of the service?
Easter Day Worship with Communion.

How full was the building?
Elbow to elbow – which made taking your coat off a bit of a challenge. The congregation was mostly middle-aged or elderly.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Hello with hymnbook.

Was your pew comfortable?
No, wooden and hard.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet with occasional murmurings.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, especially on this Easter Sunday."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Service book, hymn book and Bible – all of them perched precariously on a narrow shelf.

What musical instruments were played?
Electronic organ.

Did anything distract you?
Some impressive Easter decorations, cars in the street and the bells from the Anglican church down the road.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Friendly but staid. There was little feeling of excitement in the hymns, nor mystery in the liturgy.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
13 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The high score being for style rather than content. The preacher had the general appearance of a elderly and respectable bank manager, which made his unexpected metamorphosis into rock singer the more startling. Hardly had he started his sermon when he grabbed a guitar and began jumping around and singing a rather strange song which had the refrain, "Don't look for the living in the place of the dead." I was surprised how calmly everyone seemed to be taking this, until I discovered afterwards that this particular preacher was noted for holding impromptu gigs during his talks.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It started off by explaining why Easter cards should have a religious content rather than fluffy bunnies, then moved on to how the message of Easter was historical, surprising, personal and universal. But nothing could compare with the guitar solo.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The friendly atmosphere in the congregation.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
It took a very long time to take communion as the congregation went up to the altar rail in batches, where we received individual elements of bread and wine (the wine came in little glasses and might have been non-alcoholic grapejuce).

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people were very friendly and invited me to come and have coffee in the church hall behind the main building.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The kitchen at the back was quite extensive and included a serving hatch into the main hall. There was a choice of coffee and tea with biscuits. By church coffee standards, the coffee was passable, which is actually high praise.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – but only marked down because Methodism is not my denomination.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes – particularly as it was an Easter Sunday service.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Bank managers playing guitars.
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