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2322: Westbourne Park Baptist, London
Westbourne Baptist, London
Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: Westbourne Park Baptist, London.
Denomination: Baptist Union of Great Britain, London Baptist Association.
The building: A large modern building on the corner of the roads. There is a welcoming area at the entry. The spacious worship room was full of round tables with seats around them tonight. There is also an upstairs worship space and a big children's room downstairs. There were lovely silver Christmas stars all around inside the building.
The church: They have many people from many parts of the world who belong, and also other services for those who speak only their own language.
The neighbourhood: There are many council homes close to the church, and also many older private homes. There is a park just down the road. The main road is lined with many shops, including an Arab Christian bookshop selling religious information in its language.
The cast: David Mahon, trainee pastor in Westbourne Park, and Derrick Wilson, pastor of Tabernacle Christian Centre.
The date & time: Sunday, 18 December 2011, 7.00pm. I had been to a service at this church earlier in the year. As out-of-town relatives were visiting and we were looking for an evening service to attend, I took advantage of the opportunity to see if my favourable impression of the church would still hold.

What was the name of the service?
Evening Service.

How full was the building?
Very full – at least 100 people in the congregation and many others taking part in the service.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As we entered, a woman greeted us and gave us the service paper information. She also offered us food and juice or tea to have on the table in the service area.

Was your pew comfortable?
We had a nice comfortable seat at a round table.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Before the service started, we were all chatting and enjoying sweets and nice things to drink.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Joy to you. God gives you tidings of comfort and joy!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
We didn't have books, but everything we needed was projected onto a big screen at the front. Also projected were pictures of the Christian Christmas story.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano and guitar.

Did anything distract you?
During the service, my out-of-town visitor kept nodding off. I was a little concerned that I had brought him to the right place, but he is elderly after all and so I concluded that everything was OK. It did distract me, though.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Happy-clappy, as it was at my previous visit. A few people swayed back and forth and put up their hands as we sang. There was a pageant in which the choir and other performers reenacted the arrival of Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem, the shepherds' visitation, and the arrival of the Magi at King Herod's palace. The choir bowed to the figures of Mary and Joseph as they sang "O tidings of comfort and joy."

Exactly how long was the sermon?
15 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Derrick Wilson had a way of speaking that kept us listening.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"God so loved the world that he gave his Son, that we might not perish but have everlasting life." There was a love relationship between God and Adam, but Adam disobeyed. God's relationship was sadly broken then. God still wanted a love relationship with us. God knows what we are going through, and was willing to leave heaven and come to earth. Jesus was born in a humble stable out of God's love and care for us. God reaches out to all mankind: "I am the way, the truth and the life." God is willing to forgive us; he will not keep remembering our sins. Jesus is our hero, our Saviour. When we tell Jesus our sins, they disappear! Jesus fills our hearts and will never abandon us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The pageant was well done and very moving. We felt the love of God for us all.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The story of King Herod wanting to kill Jesus and ending up killing many other little ones felt like what happens in the whole world nowadays.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We were given a booklet entitled Why Christmas along with a CD. Many people said good-bye and wished us Happy Christmas.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Still lots of juice and snacks left over from earlier.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I lived near this church I'm sure I'd want to belong to it. I felt every bit as welcome as I did on my previous visit. The service was great and the people were so nice and kind and friendly.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I'm glad I'm a Christian, feeling the love of God in me and in others.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
If I tell my sins to Jesus they will disappear. If I do anything wrong, God will forgive me and still love me.
 
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