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747: Soul's Harbour, Camelford, Cornwall, England
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Soul's Harbour, Camelford, Cornwall, England
Mystery Worshipper: CiderMan.
The church: Soul's Harbour, Camelford, North Cornwall, England.
Denomination: Assemblies of God.
The building: It looked like it had been a historically important building, but I didn't find out what the story was behind it. It was mid-conversion into an impressive array of offices, meeting areas and youth facilities. The church had tapped into quite a lot of sponsorship from local businesses to help renovate the building.
The church: I am guessing, from the number of cars, that people come to this church from quite a wide area. The website suggests a thriving children's and youth ministry and there were many children in the service.
The neighbourhood: Camelford is a pretty little village very near Tintagel – King Arthur's castle. North Cornwall is famous for its coastal cliff path, glorious beaches and reliable surf.
The cast: Pastor David Flanders led the worship, and the guest singer and preacher was Steve Parsons.
What was the name of the service?
Morning service.

How full was the building?
Mostly full. Maybe around 80 to100 people were there.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. The pleasant steward on the door (I am guessing it was the pastor's daughter) asked if I was visiting and gave me a visitor's card to fill in, so that I could be welcomed more personally later in the service. I duly filled it in, but wasn't sure who to give it to, so I just sat on it for the remainder of the service. I wouldn't have dared to give it to someone after that.

Was your pew comfortable?
Plastic chairs, which were comfy enough.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Please have a seat. I'd like to welcome you to church on this lovely June morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
"Redemption Hymnal" plus a song sheet. Most people had Bibles for the sermon later on.

What musical instruments were played?
Two keyboards – one used solely as the organ (by the pastor's mother), one guitar (played by the pastor), and several singers (the rest of the pastor's family?).

Did anything distract you?
The very low ceiling. The guest preacher's head kept just missing it. The room had a very strange layout, I guess because of the age and original shape of the building. It was L-shaped, so half of the congregation couldn't see the other half. The preacher and worship band stood on a small platform where the two "legs" of the letter L met – so they were faced with the quandary of which way to look when they were talking or singing. Or they could just develop a squint.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
I found this surprisingly reserved for an Assemblies of God gathering. And I have never sung anything from the Redemption Hymnal before. Now I know why.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
35 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – I congratulate him on how he managed to make eye contact with everyone, seated in all parts of the L-shaped room. He must have felt dizzy afterwards!

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"What to do when the wheels come off" – the preacher led us through six things to do when we go through difficult times. Clear, practical and encouraging.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The encouragement to stick wih it when you face difficult times, as God will bring you through them.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The "giving the notices" section, which lasted longer than the worship time. I was tired just listening to all the activities that were on (and they were noted in the bulletin as well). Plus I had emailed the church website to get directions some time before I visited the area and received no reply. One of my pet hates is a "contact us" button, when no reply is given, unintentionally or otherwise. Churches shouldn't have "contact us" buttons, unless they have the time to check email regularly.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Quite a few people talked to me guessing that I was on holiday. They were very good at spotting new people.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none, as far as I was aware.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – I'd prefer to have more opportunities to participate in the service (more worship or times of prayer, for example).

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, there was a definite warmth, friendliness and a real sense of church community. The notices section showed that there was lots happening for church members and people in the community.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Guitar-playin', worship-leadin', preachin', teachin', happy-birthday-singin' pastor. That man must be tired at night...
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