|538: Ebenezer Baptist, Scarborough, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Joe Nah.
The church: Ebenezer Baptist, Scarborough, England.
The building: A large building which dominates the junction of Victoria Park Road and Columbus Ravine. It has an interesting layout with the pews at the front of the church having been replaced with comfy chairs. The internal decoration was pink and there were posters and numerous small banners around the walls.
The neighbourhood: Columbus Ravine is a wide tree-lined road forming part of the A165 which passes through Scarborough to Whitby. The church is about 500 metres from the beach and there are many small hotels nearby.
The cast: Rev. Michael Glover. The first part of the service was led by Eddie, an elderly but gentle chap, who looked like everyone's favourite grandfather.
What was the name of the service?
Worship and Word.
How full was the building?
The building was less than half full, with about 120 people present. This included children but not young people, who meet separately.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A limp handshake and a "good morning," from the lady at the door who was handing out notice sheets. The person following me into the church also said "good morning." On the pews there were cards for visitors to complete.
Was your pew comfortable?
I rejected the pews for the comfy chairs at the front of the church. These were comfortable enough to nap in, but the service was lively enough to keep sleep at bay. Surprisingly, about half of the congregation chose to suffer the pews. I assume that the comfy chairs are there to encourage worshippers to sit at the front.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was quite a buzz in the church with most people chatting. Five minutes before the service the musicians began to play. They stopped after a couple of minutes and stood together praying silently.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
Eddie (see cast list, above) started but broke his microphone. His opening words, which were eventually drowned out by the pre-service chatter were: "Morning everyone. We'd like to give you a warm welcome and if there are any visitors around ..." A new microphone was provided and Eddie started again. "Can you hear me, David? Yes? Thank you."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The words to all the hymns/songs were put up on the OHP. Some were typed, others were handwritten. There were NIV Bibles in the seat backs.
What musical instruments were played?
Keyboards, guitars and drums. The band was located in one corner, with the original organ in the opposite corner.
Did anything distract you?
The children stayed in the service for 40 minutes, by which time many were fidgety and some were walking about without restraint. This made it difficult to concentrate during the prayer time.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Reserved happy clappy.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 Rev. Glover made mention of exercising his "teeny-weeny muscles" at the gym. He looked fit for his age and it was easy to see why. He used a lot of energy bounding around the front of the church, pausing only to return to the lectern to look at his notes and grab a quick swig of water.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Ultimate purpose. Why are we on earth and why does God not just take us up to heaven? The congregation were consulted, but it was difficult to hear their answers. Rev. Glover read from Acts 10 Cornelius meeting with Peter. It is exciting when people are hungry for God, but not everyone realises that they are God-hungry. Our role is to be a modern day Peter to a modern day Cornelius.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The atmosphere. Despite the technical hitches and the worship not quite flowing, there was a real feeling of God's presence in the church.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The technical hitches with the microphone at the beginning of the service that left Eddie trying to speak while the congregation chattered, unaware that the service had started.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not a lot. One or two people said hello as they walked past. Most folk were hanging around chatting to friends. I did my best to look lost, but no one found me.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
If there was any no-one told me.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 I would want to visit other churches in the town first.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Rev. Glover going on about his teeny-weeny muscles.