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458: Buckden Methodist, Buckden, Cambridgeshire, England
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Buckden Methodist, Buckden, Cambridgeshire
Mystery Worshipper: John and Charles.
The church: Buckden Methodist, Buckden, Cambridgeshire, England.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: Typical Methodist chapel which has been converted. The central pulpit has been removed and replaced with a sanctuary area with a central communion table.
The neighbourhood: Nearby is Buckden Towers, formerly the residence of the bishops of Lincoln and where Catherine of Aragon resided after Henry VIII had divorced her. It is now a retreat/conference centre, and a Roman Catholic Church has been built in the grounds which serves as the parish church.
The cast: Rev. Pam Somethingorother.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship which this week was a communion service.

How full was the building?
Pretty full, but this was due to the influx of the group of 25-ish students (of whom we were a part) who were staying at Buckden Towers and probably made up half the congregation.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were welcomed at the door as we were given our books and an Evangelical Alliance advent prayer sheet.

Was your pew comfortable?
They were comfortable padded seats.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was spoilt rather by the attempts of the minister to say "hello" to everyone because she needed to rush off afterwards to another service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome" – from a steward.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Methodist Worship Book and Hymns & Psalms, plus a sheet with the words for the song, "Great is the Darkness".

What musical instruments were played?

Did anything distract you?
The minister interjecting comments into the Bible readings. For example, after mention of swords being turned to ploughshares, she added, "which we need at the moment, don't we?" While we might agree with the sentiment, we felt this to be entirely inappropriate in the middle of a reading from scripture.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Fairly middle-of-the-road Methodist worship, with slight evangelical tendencies.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
14 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Preparing the way of the Lord, with particular reference to the second coming of Christ. We need to be ready.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Nothing, really, though the advent liturgy used is one of John's favourites.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The minister's horrible, horrible pun. She told of how a certain French brandy was sold with a pear in the bottle. This was acheived by putting the bottle over the very young pear and allowing it to grow inside the bottle. This, she concluded, was being "pre-pear-ed".

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
No chance, as we were invited through to coffee, where the congregation chatted to various of the visitors from our party.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was a choice of tea or coffee, though we couldn't see what sort, in cups and saucers with various biscuits. No one wanted any money for them.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
6 – Charles, not being a Methodist, would be more likely to attend the parish church (which has bells!), while John thought it was a bit on the evangelical side for him.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, I think so (John).

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The minister drinking the remaining wine from the chalice at the end of the communion – a rare sight in a Methodist Church.
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