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514: St Luke's, West Norwood, London
Other reports | Comment on this report
St Luke's, West Norwood, London
Mystery Worshipper: Redhead.
The church: St Luke's, West Norwood, London.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: The church's slogan is "a light on a hill" and it is a huge and imposing building which looks straight down Norwood High Street. Hard to miss.
The cast: Rev. Luke Wickings.
What was the name of the service?
All age worship.

How full was the building?
It filled up gradually, but there were still a lot of empty seats. However, it would probably take Billy Graham to fill up such a huge building.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A bit of chat about the weather with a fellow churchgoer on the way in, followed by a handshake and noticesheet at the door.

Was your pew comfortable?
A nice comfy chair, thank you very much.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I was a little bit late so didn't have time to soak up more than a few seconds of this. People were chatting and greeting friends quietly.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome, everybody, cold morning outside, isn't it?"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
New International Version of the Bible, plus Songs and Hymns of Fellowship.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano – and a guitarist who sneaked in late.

Did anything distract you?
The fact that my pew bible was a different translation (and thus also had different page numbers) to anyone else's. Also a small girl in the front row experimenting with the OHP and sending the song words whizzing round occasionally.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A mix of choruses and Christmas carols. All a bit too s – l – o – w. A little bit of hand clapping and a few tentative hands in the air, but generally quite calm.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Rev. Wickings knows how to work an audience and does a fine children's address. The sermon was enthusiastic and question-and-answer based.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Mary's job was the most important one ever. God chooses ordinary people to do the most important things.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I love all age worship, when it works, and the gamble of letting kids answer open questions – and this service gave me a real feeling of the church as a community. My favourite answers to the question, "What sort of person makes a good prime minister?" were "Jesus" (very on-message!), "a Crystal Palace supporter", "a horse" and "someone with a hammer" (??). I know heaven will be full of laughter, so it's a good habit to get into in church now!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Hmmm, as well as being a bit cold outside, it was sadly also a bit cold inside. Took my coat off for a couple of seconds and then thought better of it...

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was welcomed like the prodigal son (well, ish). Friendly people came to speak to me, although I did a bit of hanging round first. They even asked if I wanted to write an article for the parish magazine, but I didn't feel like they were being too pushy, either.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Your standard tea and coffee combination. Proper mugs, though. To be honest, I just needed the warmth by then.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I'd really like to go back, but with more layers of clothing and to see what a non-all ages service is like.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I'm afraid it'll be the idea that "someone with a hammer" (or maybe they said stammer) would make the perfect prime minister.
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