about the ship sign up for our newsletter support the ship
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
mystery worshipper home reports from the uk and ireland reports from the usa reports from australia and new zealand reports from canada reports from elsewhere famous and infamous reports comments and corrections
the mystery worshipper
Comment on this report, or find other reports.
Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
  1481: Holy Trinity, Cambridge, England

Holy Trinity, Cambridge, England

Mystery Worshipper: Sewsow.
The church: Holy Trinity, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: Beautiful, traditional stone building dating from the 15th century. Stained glass windows in the Perpendicular Gothic style appear unusually large. Inside is bright and cheerful.
The church: There seems to be an exciting mix of all ages and different nationalities all united together to worship Jesus. They hold children's church, divided into groups based on age, and put on social activities for youth and students. They also have a women's group and sponsor an Alpha course.
The neighbourhood: Cambridge, about 50 miles north-northeast of London, traces its roots back to the Bronze Age. It was a military outpost in Roman times and an important trading centre under the Vikings. It is best known for its university, parts of which were founded as early as 1209. Cambridge academics have won more Nobel Prizes than those of any other university in the world. The city's railway station is located some distance from the city centre, allegedly upon orders from the university so as to deny students easy access to the distractions of London. Holy Trinity, however, is conveniently located right in the centre of Cambridge.
The cast: The Revd Rupert Charkham, vicar, led the service. The Revd Barney de Berry (excellent name) preached, and the music was led by Liz Belson.
The date & time: 26 August 2007, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Morning Service with Children's Church.

How full was the building?
Surprisingly full considering it was the summer holidays!

Did anyone welcome you personally?
The church was extremely welcoming! A lady at the door greeted me as she handed me a notice sheet, and as I entered the preacher nodded and said good morning. As I took my seat, a lovely, friendly elderly lady came and spoke to me, asking who I was and what had brought me there. During the peace, a family sitting behind me spoke to me and shook my hand.

Was your pew comfortable?
The pews were spacious, but after sitting for a time one noticed that they really weren't all that comfortable. I'm afraid I developed a case of pins and needles.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Nice, comfortable, friendly, soft music was playing in the background. I thought this helped to focus on God.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"A very warm welcome to Holy Trinity Church, especially if you are a visitor with us today. We hope you enjoy your morning with us."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
In the pews could be found The Holy Bible, New International Version. We were given a notice sheet at the door. The order of service, plus responses and prayers, were projected onto a screen.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard and drums plus two female vocalists.

Did anything distract you?
There was a very attractive family sitting a few rows ahead of me. It was a pleasure to watch them worship God together.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The worship confused me slightly. The worship leader seemed to be stuck on fast forward and so all the songs were twice as fast as they should have been. But the songs were modern and the worship humble. The congregation raised a few tentative hands in worship but many remained seated. Others were concentrating on fitting all the words in to the over-quick tunes. A highlight occurred toward the middle of the service, when the children came out to treat us to an action song. Brilliant!

Exactly how long was the sermon?
22 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Father de Berry was very amusing and referred often to scenes from TV commercials.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
'The most satisfying drink," based on John 4:13-26, the confrontation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well. Nothing in this world can satisfy us, and so we shouldn't waste our time searching after things that will fade. Rather, we should invest it in our relationship with Jesus.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sermon was brilliant and the people were friendly and loving.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The projectionist kept getting his slides mixed up, and so the order of service was in the wrong order. I had to mumble the parts I didn't know.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The lady who spoke to me at the beginning showed me to the tea and coffee. I stood around only for a moment before another friendly lady came to speak to me and then introduced me to the student worker, who encouraged me to fill in a welcome card.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea was hot and perfectly brewed, and served in a white mug. There was also a nice selection of biscuits, including those delightful chocolate sandwiches known as bourbons.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I think that if this were my regular church I would be supported and challenged.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, it did, actually. I had warm fuzzy feelings all around.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The friendliness.
please give to the floating fund
camino pilgrimage
The Mystery Pilgrim
One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
mystery worshipper sunday
London churches
Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.
follow ship of fools on twitter
buy your ship of fools postcards
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
      More Mystery Worshipper reports          
      ship of fools