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351: St Andrew's, Oakington, Cambridgeshire, England
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St Andrew's, Oakington, Cambridgeshire
Mystery Worshipper: King Solomon.
The church: St Andrew's, Oakington, Cambridgeshire, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Typical old village parish church.
The church: Although the church is Church of England and meets in a traditional building, the service had a strongly Pentecostal flavour. The worship leader has been borrowed from a Pentecostal church called the Miracle Church.
The neighbourhood: Pretty commuter village near Cambridge.
The cast: Vicar: James Alexander. Preacher: Liesel Alexander (the vicar's wife). Worship was led by a guy called Arthur.
What was the name of the service?
Free to Live Celebration. The church runs an evangelistic outreach called Free to Live, and this was its monthly evangelistic service.

How full was the building?
80 per cent full, about 120 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Very welcoming. A few guys welcomed people on the road outside the church, a guy said hello in the porch and once inside the worship leader and the vicar welcomed the Mystery Worshippers personally.

Was your pew comfortable?
Average. Cushions with colourful pictures were lying around on the floor – probably relics from a time before the Holy Spirit swept through this church.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Expectant, not too noisy. I bumped into some old friends and we had a time of fellowship and sharing before the action started.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Great to see you. We even have someone from Banbury here! Come on and celebrate!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Bibles supplied (mostly NIV), songs on overheads.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard (the player was blind but played fantastically), plus two guitars and drums.

Did anything distract you?
The cushions on the floor were in the way and made it difficult to dance during the worship. At one point the leader stopped in the middle of the song because we did not do the right arm action!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A charismatic's paradise! Had it all! Happy clappy hands in the air stuff! Prophetic songs in tongues and lots of amens and hallelujahs throughout. After the sermon there was an extended ministry time where a real anointing was in the air. Several people were slain in the Spirit, which added to the fun.

St Andrew's, Oakington, Cambridgeshire

Exactly how long was the sermon?
32 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – The preacher told her own testimony which was very personal and moving.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Liesel used to be a drug addict and was absolutely bonkers. She was detained for life in a mental hospital. Then Jesus came into her life and completely transformed and healed her. Now she runs a powerful evangelistic ministry, bringing countless blessings. Throughout the sermon she focused on what Jesus has done for her and her own inadequacy. Can't get much better than that.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Most of it. God's presence could be felt throughout the service. A particular highlight was to see Vanessa, a drug addict, getting saved and committing her life to Jesus.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The place did not have a toilet and I was desperate!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I had great conversations and even hugs with the people in the pew in front of and behind me and stayed on for about 30 minutes afterwards.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
No after-service coffee, but mid-service squash and water in real glasses. Nice idea as it was a sweltering evening!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – I am usually not a big fan of the Church of England, but this church is a positive exception. It is focused on Jesus and the people are very friendly and welcoming. There is a strong focus on the church reaching out to and serving the community. If I lived in Oakington I would not need to look anywhere else.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Absolutely! The enthusiasm of the congregation and the presence of God made this a memorable experience.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The fact that no matter how far away from God someone gets, God can always get you back into the kingdom. As it says in Isaiah 1:18 – No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as white as wool.

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