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2157: Remuera Baptist, Auckland, New Zealand
Remuera Baptist Auckland NZ
Mystery Worshipper: Zadok.
The church: Remuera Baptist, Auckland, New Zealand.
Denomination: Baptist Union of New Zealand.
The building: I think modern Gothic is the best way to describe it. The foundation stone was laid on 26 March 1926, and the church was open for service the following August. After ten years of "consultation and fundraising," the building has recently had much-needed structural repairs and upgrades as well as a general facelift.
The church: They operate a kindergarten on-site during the week, which also doubles as the Sunday school during the weekend services. A small but strong youth ministry meets on Friday nights, and there is a service on Sunday afternoons for Chinese speakers.
The neighbourhood: Auckland's suburb of Remuera is regarded as the stereotypical retreat of the rich in popular New Zealand culture, and is therefore used as a name to describe this income group – usually in disparaging tones. The term "'Remuera tractor," for example, is a common nickname for upmarket SUVs. The church itself is located in a residential area on Remuera Road but is closer to the Meadowbank suburb, also affluent but somewhat more affordable, than to the centre of Remuera.
The cast: The preacher was the Revd Warren Prestidge, pastor of the church. A lady led the initial part of the service and worship but I didn't get her name.
The date & time: Sunday, 10 October 2010, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
All-ages morning worship service.

How full was the building?
Mostly full, between 80 to 100 in attendance. More on the older side than younger.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. As I walked in, a lovely older couple handed me a newsletter and gave a friendly greeting.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was of the long, padded pew variety. Simple but comfortable, possibly recovered to match the recently upgraded interior. It was beige in colour.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
A quiet hum of expectation. The morning sunlight coming in from the new eastside windows made for a lovely place just to sit and dwell pre-service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
I must have had a "duh" moment. I'd been wondering why it seemed the parishioners all had the same Bible with them during the sermon, only to realise they were stacked and available as you walked in through the second set of doors to the sitting area. I seemed to have missed them and not noticed them till I walked out! There were no hymn sheets as the songs were projected on a wall.

What musical instruments were played?
An organ, a keyboard, a bass guitar, and a teen girl on a ukulele – which I thought was a unique and awesome touch.

Did anything distract you?
To be honest, there was a lack of umph or zeal amongst the parishioners. Don't get me wrong, they were nice enough, but during the service and worship they seemed to be there out of habit, tradition and obligation. I do hope some of the young families and the youth will change this.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
No clapping, no flashy stage performances, simple but effective.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
39 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – I liked how it was very biblically based. I got the impression the pastor knows the Bible well and uses this to good effect in his messages.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was based on Ezekiel 1:1-2:1 (Ezekiel has a vision of a living creature who speaks to him). God used Jeremiah in Jerusalem and Ezekiel in Babylon to illustrate this truth: God is in control. Beauty and peace are at the centre of the vision for the new phase of the church after its recent renovations.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sunlight streaming through the eastside windows certainly brought around a sense of "illumination."

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There were some "technical faults," but this was understandable as this was only the second week in their refurbished facility and things still needed some tweaking.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't get a chance to get lost. I was befriended early on in the peace and directed to the lounge afterwards.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
A selection of juices, and hot tea and coffee, along with some biscuits and slices.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – Well, it would be closer to home, and I did attend a Baptist church as a youth. But I don't feel there is a niche for me in this church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, I can see that it's a church that's small enough to care for its members and is starting to have an outward look to its community.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I really enjoyed the sermon, and the quiet and stillness of it all, to just sit and dwell.

 
 
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