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426: Wesley Methodist, Cambridge, England
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Wesley Methodist, Cambridge, England
Mystery Worshipper: Duvet.
The church: Wesley Methodist, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: Unusually for a Methodist church, it was built with a nave and transept, but now the chancel has been enclosed as a small chapel and the nave has been turned to be south facing. The sanctuary area is in front of the pillars, which leaves an aisle behind, and so the communion rail – with the cup holders – goes all the way round.
The church: The building, which includes meeting rooms and a refectory, is used by a playgroup and luncheon clubs during the week. There are also good links between the students and the congregation.
The neighbourhood: Various Cambridge colleges in the neighbourhood.
The cast: Rev. Peter Graves, minister and chaplain to the students, and someone from Wesley House who's been on placement there for a while.
What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion.

How full was the building?
Probably about half full. The sides were fuller than the middle.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, there were two greeters on the main door, one was the president of MethSoc (the student Methodist Society) whom I'd met the night before, and the other a member of the congregation, both of whom greeted me.

Was your pew comfortable?
Relatively comfortable chairs.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Didn't experience much of it arriving practically on the dot of 10.30am myself, but not overly noisy. I'd arrived at the same time as someone I'd met a couple of times already at other events, so we sat together and she spoke to the gentleman sitting near us.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"I will exalt you, O God my king."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Methodist Worship Book, Hymns and Psalms and a printed order of service, which had the opening response, page and hymn numbers and a chorus. However, I was taken by surprise at the outset because I didn't have one. They were inside the notice sheets but it must have fallen out of mine. So I just looked over the shoulder of the person next to me.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ for most of the hymns, but for "Lord Jesus Christ" the organist turned to the piano and there was also a violinist. This worked well, I thought.

Did anything distract you?
Not particularly. There were toddlers running round but they weren't disruptive and I like to see kids able to be that free.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Liturgical. Modern and traditional hymns, to good tunes (i.e. the ones I like) and one chorus before the intercessions.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
Sixteen and a half minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – His delivery was good, but he lost marks because the subject wasn't easy to put into a nutshell and a couple of the illustrations didn't seem to link in very well.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
According to the service sheet, "Not Ashamed". The epistle was 2 Timothy 1 about Paul not being ashamed of the gospel, but it actually focused more on the faith that we received becoming real to us. Timothy had received the faith from his mother and grandmother but he had to make it his own. In the same way, so do we.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Nothing in particular stands out but it was very welcoming and relaxed.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Again, nothing major. I was a bit worried when "Abba Father" was announced without a number. I know it myself so wasn't that bothered, but thought it wasn't very welcoming – but then I realized it was on the piece of paper I didn't have.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Didn't get a chance. The girl I'd been sitting with spotted two new-looking studenty types, so we went over and spoke to them before going through to coffee, where I chatted to various people. Then the students went through to MethSoc, after which we had lunch together, which was free to first-timers. Then yet more chatting.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I had squash, which was fine. There was coffee and tea, which were fairly traded.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – I'm tempted, but I also want to be involved in college chapel and it's a bit of a rush. However, it's possible to turn up later for MethSoc, so I'll probably do that.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
One of the new students had a hearing aid, and a microphone which was lent to the minister to wear, and which was passed around at MethSoc so he could hear.
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