|630: St Paul's, The Hacket, Thornbury, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Chris church crawler.
The church: St Paul's, The Hacket, Thornbury, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: St Paul's was built in 1905 in a almost cottage-style and looks like a colonial Anglican church. It is a small building, full of charm, with a modern feel to it, and certainly doesn't look a century old. The roof is supported by interior butresses and there is a 17th century seat in the apse.
The church: St Paul's is part of the parish of Thornbury and is a thriving little church. Sadly, the church has experienced some vandalism and has to be kept locked. There is also a large medieval church, St Mary's, in the centre of Thornbury.
The neighbourhood: The church is situated in little country lanes in a hamlet called The Hacket. This is situated just outside the main town of Thornbury. It has a good congregation, most of whom come from new areas of housing.
The cast: I didn't catch the name of the minister.
What was the name of the service?
Morning worship, Bible Sunday.
How full was the building?
The church was about two-thirds full although I gather there are usually more present. There was a storm blowing outside and no doubt this kept some people away.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
No, although I was handed a hymn book. The welcome from everyone afterwards made up for that.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was fairly comfortable. I leant on the walls of the church for support.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Most people were talking anxiously about the storm.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Hello and welcome. It would be nice if people sat nearer the front. I feel so alone."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
A printed service sheet, hymns ancient and modern and St Pauls' own collection of hymns.
What musical instruments were played?
A muffled electronic organ was played well.
Did anything distract you?
The storm outside was distracting. I could hear it ripping through the trees and see an occassional shaft of light through the green glass.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Although low-church in feel, St Paul's is very much more Anglican in style than most churches I attend. One nod to non-conformity was the singing: it was very strong and robust, which makes a change from the usual Anglican silence.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
About five minutes.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 He was very frank, making no bones about his message. Bravely, he spoke from memory, but unfortunately he forgot some points. I found some of his terminology old-fashioned; he used "altar of the Lord," when I'm used to "communion table."
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
You can't put a gun to a woman's head and say, "love me." In the same way, we can't force people to attend church.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Being in a little country church with lots of other worshippers.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The sound of the storm outside! The wind blew wildly in the trees, creating a real racket.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was introduced to several people, including the lay reader. People were very friendly and it felt like a happy community.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
One of the church members invited me back to their home for coffee. It was lovely and very welcoming, although it's a pity there was nothing laid on in the church building. I'm quite outgoing, but if I wasn't, I might have slipped through the net.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 As I am newish to the area I would be happy to belong to this friendly and happy church.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. It was very welcoming.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The storm trying to make more noise than us worshippers.