|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.
|2181: All Saints,
Worshipper: The Yam Yam, accompanied
by Mrs Yam, the Yamlet and Yamaletto.
All Saints, Worcester, England.
Church of England, Diocese of Worcester.
The building: One
of several medieval churches in the city of Worcester, All Saints
was rebuilt in the 1740s. It retains some medieval work in its
western parts, but is a commodious and light Georgian building.
Much of the interior was, however, "restored" in Victorian times
and "redecorated" in the 1960s.
The church: All
Saints was re-launched a decade ago as a base for an evangelical
Anglican congregation. It has grown steadily and seems to be
outward looking in its ministry. It was formerly part of a team
ministry with other Anglican churches in the city, but the closure
of churches and the distinctiveness of those surviving has led
to this team ministry dwindling, if not ending. All Saints has
three Sunday services catering to differing congregations.
Worcester remains the "county town", although it is now overshadowed in the West Midlands by various larger towns. In medieval times there were many parish churches within the city walls, as well as the cathedral. Much of All Saints' parish was subject to slum clearance in the 19th and 20th centuries, and an arterial road was driven through. Now, the remains of three churches survive amongst 1960s municipal buildings along the main road in the shadow of the cathedral, in what would have once have been a densely populated residential area.
The cast: "Laura",
whose surname was not given and who is not identified on their
website even though she is one of the leadership team, led the
service. The Revd Dr Richard ("Rich") Johnson preached
and presided over communion.
The date & time: 8
May 2011, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
Informal Family Service.
How full was the building?
I would say there were a little over 100 people present, comfortably
spread without feeling full. At the end, I was told numbers
fluctuate but that today was at the lower end of things.
Did anyone welcome you
I was helped as I tried to batter my way through the wrong entrance
with a pushchair. Once in, we were greeted by a welcomer called
Jennifer, who shook my hand and welcomed the Yamaletto and me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Fine. I noticed it more for aesthetic reasons, wondering if it was a cut-down box pew of the 1800s or a late-Victorian lookey-likey.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Relaxed. There were people sitting quietly, but many stood,
chatting and drinking coffee.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Good morning. Would you like to take your seats?"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Bibles and a notice sheet. Songs and prayer responses were on a screen.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, played by "Tom" (again no surname and not identified
on website), who also led worship. I think there is normally
a band and choir.
Did anything distract you?
The fittings of the church. It is a fine building dating back to 1740 and a number of fittings are preserved from this time, such as the reredos and panelling. The church was altered in the later 1800s, but with interesting fitments that caught the eye of a church anorak such as myself.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Anglican happy-clappy. The service was relaxed, with people
sitting at the back drinking coffee. The music was modern worship
music, played in an ethereal style, which I loved. There was
an opening sung worship, during which one lady danced around
the aisles. The Yamlet spontaneously jumped up and copied her.
Is that not how we are meant to follow Jesus? (Mrs Yam took
the Yamlet and Yamaletto to their respective groups after sung
worship was over, but these were simply rooms where parents
stayed with their children rather than any organised activity.
I'll mention this again later on.) There were liturgical elements:
abbreviated eucharistic prayer, Lord's Prayer with modern language.
Laura (the service leader) led us in prayer a few times and
there were intercessory prayers. Some might call this style
of worship lacking in reverence, but the service is stated to
be informal after all.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 The Revd Rich used PowerPoint slides to highlight his
main points. His sermon was the final one in a series. In previous
sermons he had debunked three common but erroneous beliefs:
(1) Sickness has a higher purpose (disease is not part of God's
plan for us; it differs from suffering). (2) Lack of healing
means that one has insufficient faith (this is where praying
for others comes in). (3) There is no hope (the Kingdom is both
now and not-yet).
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
Does God still heal? The answer is yes, but not all the time.
He made three main points: (1) Healing is an expression of restored
creation, a pointer to the Kingdom of God. We are authorised,
in fact we are commanded, to pray for the sick and not
only that, but we are empowered to minister to them. The Church
as a whole was encouraged to lay hands on others and pray for
healing as a matter of course. (2) Healing may not always follow
prayer, but we do not take the blame for this any more than
we should take the credit for when it does. It's not a lake
inside you; it's a river pouring through you. (3) We should
embrace the tension of faith and hope and not try to explain
away the mystery (Jesus didn't in Mark 11:29).
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
After the sermon, the congregation had the chance to ask for
healing and for those around them to pray for them. Prayer is
so important. Doing it in a group is a bit scary if you're not
used to it. I thought it was a wonderful thing to have encouraged
and to join in with.
And which part was like
being in.. er.. the other place?
Mrs Yam very kindly left me oblivious to the fact that she was
expected to remain in the children's area with our brood, but
it meant she missed the entire service. For the Yam Yams, provision
for small children is important. It enables parents to participate
in the services and to serve others by helping in crèche.
It also incorporates children into the life and teaching of
the church. It's not possible for every church to offer supervised
crèche, but in a largish church with many young children,
the lack of it was something of a surprise.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Someone engaged me in conversation and introduced me to some other members of the congregation. I was very well looked after and had several enjoyable chats.
How would you describe the after-service
Nice coffee in a paper cup.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 There was plenty to like.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
|We rely on voluntary donations to stay online. If you're a regular visitor to Ship of Fools, please consider supporting us.
|The Mystery Pilgrim
| One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
| Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.