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|2663: St Matthew's,
The church: St
Matthew's, Bayswater, London.
of England, Diocese
The building: It
is a Victorian Gothic Revival church, completed in 1882, with
a landmark-tall steeple, wide nave, and many original fittings.
The high ceiling is dark wood embossed with gold, and it's
nicely lit and bright for a Gothic church. There is a fine
organ and a piano. The wood floor has been recently sanded
clean around the edges of the nave (but not between the pews)
and there are red carpets up the aisle and in the the choir
stalls in front of the altar.
The church: The
congregation includes people from all over the world, visitors
and residents, who are welcomed to make this church their
spiritual home. The pattern of worship is traditional, but
the welcome and activities are modern. They recently (last
year) introduced a crêche and Sunday school, which is
the greatest sign of life in a congregation now thriving,
which just a few years ago was ageing and dwindling. In addition
to worship, the church is occasionally used for concerts and
musical performances, and they now boast a talented director
of music and an excellent choir (now recruiting, according
to the website).
The neighbourhood: Bayswater
is a busy area full of shops, restaurants, homes and hotels
sandwiched between the West End of London (Oxford Street shopping)
and the desirable neighbourhood of Notting Hill. The church
lies just north of Kensington Gardens, the west end of Hyde
Park where Kensington Palace is located. The Greek Orthodox
Cathedral of St Sophia is on the next corner, and a large
and beautiful Jewish synagogue sits directly opposite the
church. The diversity of restaurants reflects the fact that
this has been a multicultural part of London for generations:
Greek, Arab, Chinese, South American and more.
The cast: The
Revd Tim Mullins.
The date & time: Sunday,
16 February 2014, 11.00am.
What was the name of
Holy Communion from Common Worship.
How full was the building?
It was about half full, with about 50 people, including a
Did anyone welcome you
I was welcomed with a smile as I came in and was handed a
Bible and hymn book, with a choice of larger print or music
Was your pew comfortable?
It was a very comfortable pew, with blue kneelers and a slot
in the pew in front in which to fit the Bible and hymn books.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
People chatted as they came early for the service, and the
organ and choir were rehearsing. A few people also arrived
a little late.
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"We meet in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
The New English Hymnal; New English Bible (New
Testament); and The Holy Bible, New Revised
Standard Version, Anglicised Edition. There was a board
displaying the hymn numbers in order. We were also given an
order of service booklet with all the congregational parts
clearly set out.
What musical instruments
The original 1913 organ, notable for being recently restored
but otherwise unaltered, was played well.
Did anything distract
I loved looking up to the high roof above us, and there was
a lovely raised pulpit, although it was not used on this occasion,
and perhaps isn't often mounted.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The worship was excellent and there were two people leading
us as we sang. The choir also had some pieces of their own,
which were excellent.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
8 The Revd Tim Mullins spoke about the day's Bible
readings and I found it very helpful. He encouraged us to
read the Bible and get it into our hearts. We prayed for Nigeria
and for the cares of the world, for children, marriages and
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
In Matthew's gospel there are lessons on the nature of God.
Jesus engaged people with his teaching. He tried to explain
the kingdom of God. The people who were with Jesus felt uncomfortable,
and still today fear sometimes causes us to close our minds.
But some receive the word with joy. Christian faith is necessary
in the world. Although it is relatively safe here in England
and we do not expect attacks, some parts of the world are
very dangerous. Churches in Nigeria, for example, are full
but still need ministers. Jesus
cautioned us to beware the distractions of life. Jesus is
reaching out to touch and love us and we should take his words
seriously. Jesus is speaking to our own lives. The Church
is growing in London, and even in Iran there are new Christians.
Let us pray for the faith of the Church throughout the world.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
I felt happy that there were people throughout the world believing
in and worshipping God. I will keep praying for them. I was
very pleased that we had communion, as it always brings me
close to God and Jesus.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
I felt sad and angry that the kirk I used to belong to, which
was similar this one, has fallen into disrepair and is not
being used any more.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
People were smiling and friendly. They chatted to me and showed
me where the tea and coffee were and invited me to enjoy myself.
Everyone was in a good mood as it was a lovely blue sky day
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
We had tea and coffee and and some bits to eat also, and it
was all excellent.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
8 I would really enjoy belonging to this church, but
it is a long way from where I live. All of it was really good:
the singing and the sermon, the choir and the organist. And
the people were nice too.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
I felt glad to be a Christian and to pray for people all over
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
I will remember the beauty of the church and also to pray
for other people.
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