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367: St Alphege, Edmonton, London
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St Alphege, Edmonton, London
Mystery Worshipper: Marcellus.
The church: St Alphege, Edmonton, London N9.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Brick, 1957 with east end facing the main road with a suspended figure on wall. It has a slender tower at the west end with a figure of St Alphege on it. Inside, the walls are rendered with painted grey concrete. The east end has an original painting of the crucifixion as its main focus of attention.
The church: Serves a working class area.
The neighbourhood: Mixed terraced and semi-detached housing. The church is on the main Hertford Road which passes north/south through Edmonton.
The cast: Fr. John Cornish, who was the celebrant and preacher in the absence of the vicar, who was away on holiday.
What was the name of the service?
Parish Mass.

How full was the building?
There was a congregation of about 70. I was told after the service that they generally get about 130.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Just a "Good morning" with the hymn book.

Was your pew comfortable?
Closely placed chairs, which made kneeling very uncomfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Fairly quiet, but with some folks exchanging pleasantries. About 10 people came in after the service had started.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Celebration Hymnal for Everyone. Card with Mass in Ordinary Time (Series 1). The Redemptorist Mass Leaflet with next week's events on the back.

What musical instruments were played?
The organ. There was also a gowned choir in the gallery.

Did anything distract you?
Yes, not being able to kneel comfortably.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship was Anglo-Catholic with incense and the sanctus bell. At the end of the service, the Angelus was sung after the first verse of the last hymn; this was then followed by the rest of that hymn. I didn't care for this very much. It seems a bit disjointed to cut a hymn in half!

St Alphege, Edmonton, London

Exactly how long was the sermon?
8 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – It was a well-presented sermon on the theme of prayer. Fr. Cornish has a quiet speaking voice and the air of authority of a preacher who has a strong faith.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We learn of Jesus at prayer through the disciples. Jesus gave the disciples the model for prayer in the Lord's Prayer. It is a sin not to pray, as it builds up a relationship with God. The Lord's Prayer is easy to say but difficult to pray. We often become disillusioned in our prayers if they are not answered in the way we want. This should lead us to question ourselves when our demands are not met, or when God says "no" or "wait". On a more positive note, the preacher concluded that we know from experience that prayer is answered and prayer does work.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
If there is singing in heaven, they practise well here. There were six hymns.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Trying to kneel comfortably.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't have to hang around as the church warden came to greet me before I left my chair. We chatted for five minutes and she introduced me to the archivist, which was my ulterior motive for attending this church.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I had a cold drink as it was a very hot day. The drink was served in a plastic cup.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – I would go there again, but my own church is very special, so I am unlikely to desert it.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
A good family atmosphere and friendly with it.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The painting of the crucifixion on the east wall is very striking.

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