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445: St Thomas, Denbigh, Flintshire, North Wales
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St Thomas, Denbigh, Flintshire, North Wales
Mystery Worshipper: Andras.
The church: St Thomas, Denbigh, Flintshire, North Wales.
Denomination: Presbyterian.
The building: A typical Victorian barn, with the communion table down in front of the pulpit and the organ "high and lifted up" behind it – but a pleasant atmosphere.
The church: The church seems to be very active in the community, but is currently without a minister.
The neighbourhood: Denbigh is a small but busy market town based around the ancient castle – now a heritage site. Although the town has a rather English air, there's a good deal of Welsh about, and although St Thomas itself is a firmly English-language church, many of the congregation do speak (or are learning) Welsh.
The cast: Andy Hughes – preacher.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship.

How full was the building?
Pretty full in the main body.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Not my first time here, so the welcome was of the "hello again" variety (it's always nice to be recognized).

Was your pew comfortable?
Standard Victorian pew in wood which got harder as the service progressed. No kneelers, and a feeling that no one would use such a thing there anyway.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The community seemed to be at ease with itself – pleasant, low-key talk, but nothing loud enough to be disturbing.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to the service, and especially to our visitors." This led into a five-minute session of notice-giving, including the reading of a letter from one candidate explaining why he had decided not to come as the church's minister – not, perhaps, the most appropriate start to morning worship, though it was obviously important to the members of the regular congregation.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Songs & Hymns of Fellowship and The Church Hymnary. Good News Bibles were available in the pews, and page numbers were given out before the readings.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard (a very nice one, too!) and organ. If only they'd sing at a decent tempo!

Did anything distract you?
The preacher's clothing – Andy Hughes is the North Wales Area Development man for Crusaders, and so wore a Crusader's t-shirt.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Relaxed hymn-sandwich. Topics for intercessory prayer were divided into Home and Away (a nice idea, that!) and all the topics were suggested by the congregation. The topics were a thoughtful list, too.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes exactly.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Very relaxed and chatty – "easy listening Christianity", perhaps?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The preacher started with Romans 12 and asked, "How do we know what God's will is for us?" Sadly he seemed to have no notion that sincere Christians may well have very different ideas about what's God's will is for a particular situation, so far from dealing with those issues about which church members might well have been agonising during the previous week – such as the bombing in Afghanistan – he avoided all the difficulties by ignoring them.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The fellowship – this is a wonderfully friendly church.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The notices, which took up far too long at exactly the wrong time.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Hard to do – I'm not a regular by any means, but have been a couple of times before and got spoken to and nodded at by a lot of people. But I don't think they'd let anyone just feel lost.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Nice biscuits accompanied by Nescafé. Tell them about fair trade, someone...

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes indeed – but also a little confused.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Those boring notices, and the preacher's t-shirt.
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