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537: Kingswood Moravian & United Reformed, Kingswood, Bristol
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Kingswood Moravian & URC church, Kingswood, Bristol
Mystery Worshipper: Chris Churchcrawler.
The church: Kingswood Moravian & United Reformed, Kingswood, Bristol.
Denomination: Moravian & United Reformed.
The building: This Moravian church building dates from 1868 and was designed by Foster and Wood along with some unusual chapels in the Bristol area. The church is in a Germanic Romanesque style with a wooden porch and has transepts and an apse. The interior has thin steep gothic ceilings and a lovely organ. Across the road stands the extremely derelict gothic Whitefield tabernacle whose congregation joined the Moravians in the 80s.
The church: The Moravians have a handful of churches in the west. There was a Moravian church in central Bristol but this was demolished in the 1960s. The Moravian church here was built in 1868, and in the 1980s the local URC church joined them.
The neighbourhood: This was the area of coal mining evangelised by George Whitefield and is made up of thousands of tiny miners cottages and chapels. Most of the chapels have now gone but some remain.
The cast: Rev. Jan Mullin of the Moravian church at Bath.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship – Induction of Elders.

How full was the building?
George Whitefield needs to visit Kingswood again! This is a fair sized church building with only 20 quite elderly people attending this morning. I gather that is the normal size of the congregation.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I had a very warm welcome from the congregation who were gathered at the door and the minister. I was on other business, too, getting photos for the church crawler website I sometimes contribute to and people were asking about that. I was shown my pew and people chatted with me.

Was your pew comfortable?
Nice comfortable Victorian affair.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Warm , chatty and friendly. However I felt that perhaps a little music before the service might have brightened things up a bit.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Hello and welcome – especially to our visitor."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Complete Mission Praise and Order of Worship for Induction of Elders.

What musical instruments were played?
A rather fine two manual organ in the south transept with painted pipes.

Did anything distract you?
The bells from the parish church rang out during the sermon, which was nice, and the warm sunshine flowing through the large windows.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional reformed worship with some tuneful Moravian hymns (these inspired John Wesley) and plenty of them too. There were choruses too but I felt these may have been easier to sing along with on the piano rather than the organ. The organist occasionally forgot how many verses there were in each hymn and either played too many or not enough. However, I do exactly the same thing when I play.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The minister was quietly spoken but held the attention of everybody present.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The rededication of members and how all of us have our roles as part of the body of Christ.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Being in a lovely building and singing those Moravian hymns. Also being with a friendly group of worshippers.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
What is it with me and small churches?! I always seem to end up in small congregations. It seems sad that the very place George Whitefield and the Moravians had led mass conversions now attracts very small numbers of faithful worshipers each Sunday and there are no younger (under 55) members of the church here now. However there is a Congregational church down the road which seems to be holding out well.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Everybody present came over to speak to me.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Sadly no coffee afterwards. Could have done with some on such a hot day. Never mind.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – It seems sad to go to a very friendly church and find very few people. It seems strange that community and house churches go to the effort of setting up new churches when friendly ones already exist.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The quiet atmosphere of the place and the friendliness.
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