The building is an old hall (aptly named the Sheep Shed) of red brick on the exterior and painted wooden panelling and exposed beams internally. I couldn't ascertain the exact age of the building, but I would guesstimate between 60 to 100 years. There is an additional more recently constructed lean-to off the side of the building that serves as a Sunday school as well as a coffee and dining area. The interior can be described as "neat" mostly carpeted, a platform, a plain pulpit, cream painted walls with blue upholstered pews.
They assert themselves as "a Bible-believing church to the Queanbeyan region." From what I can gather, they do a fair bit of mail-drop invitation to various special services. Being dispensationalists, they had recently held a study on this theme. They meet each Wednesday evening for Bible study and prayer. I am unaware of any community involvement beyond their own congregation.
Queanbeyan has been a city in its own right for just 40 years (since 1972), although it had a presence as a mining town and important agricultural district as long ago as the 19th century. Due to its proximity to the Australian capital, Canberra, it is something of a commuter town. The church is situated in a good area as far as visibility goes. It's a few meters down the road from a large pub. Access-wise, it is easy to get to from its position on a main arterial road in and out of Queanbeyan.
Pastor Kevin Beier presided. I missed the name of the person leading the singing.
What was the name of the service?Special anniversary service. I was there due to an invitation card having arrived in my mailbox. I thought it a perfect opportunity to return the favour by dropping my own Mystery Worship card in the plate!
How full was the building?
I would say the building could hold about 60-70 comfortably, and there wasn't a pew that was empty. There were at least 50 people present, of all ages.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes. A sidesman welcomed me and handed me a Bible and a service sheet.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was a typical modern upholstered pew, and very comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was pleasant. People were chatting and, from what I could gather, quite pleased to see so many people in attendance.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
I actually couldn't quite get the exact words over the general chatter, but I assume it was a "Good morning." Mr Beier then gave a short summing up of the 21-year history of the church. There have been many ups and downs through the years, even times when the membership dipped to as few as a half a dozen folk.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The 1611 King James (Authorised) Version of the Bible as far as they are concerned, the only translation worth a dime and a hymn book called Great Hymns of the Faith.
What musical instruments were played?
A piano. There were a couple of guitars lying around but they werent played.
Did anything distract you?
A guy sitting a few rows in front of me with hair that was surely longer than Jesus'! I couldn't help wondering quite how he got away with it good on him, I thought.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was standard Bible Baptist fare consisting of excellent gospel hymns. We sang "Years I spent in vanity and pride", "Power in the Blood", "To God be the glory", and "Victory in Jesus", all with great gusto.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – Mr Beier had a warm, inviting style of preaching. Hand in pocket a few times, but otherwise nothing too erratic in his mannerisms. He referred us to the page number in the pew Bibles from which his text would be taken, and said that we were welcome to take a Bible home with us if we didn't have one. His text was Matthew 27:34-44 (the crucified Jesus is mocked by passers-by and the thieves who were crucified with him), although he also referred freely to the other Passion narratives.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The title of the sermon was "Which thief are you?" The two thieves were dying men mocking a dying man yet Jesus alone could give them life. How ironic! Jesus, who was sinless, was being reviled by vile men. Jesus could have said to the thieves, "You had this coming to you." Instead, he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The thieves were men of darkness; Jesus had no darkness in him. Jesus is the light of the world. During the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross, God made the whole world dark so that all would understand. We have all sinned like the two thieves had sinned. We need to look to Jesus and be saved. We are all people of dark behaviour, and yet Christ will lift the darkness if we will but turn to him. The "good thief" died believing the promise of Jesus. The Church cannot manipulate us into turning to Christ. Only we can turn to him.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Those glorious gospel hymns.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
As usual, the "meet and greet" during the service. I have never liked this, either in my own church or in any other. I always feel awkward.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Since it was an anniversary special, there was a lunch served after the service. I was impressed with the array of food on offer, from Asian cuisine to good old corned beef. I was also reasonably fortunate generally to have avoided overt detection, and was able to slip out after a quick taste of some of the food.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
As above, good fare. There were tea and coffee along with an array of soda and juices. I didn't avail myself of these as I didn't want to get trapped in a conversation.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – They seemed to be good, honest Christian people, but the strictness of Bible Baptist customs and beliefs are not for me. So I would not make this my regular church. I enjoy my salvation far too much.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
On the whole, yes it did. I do love those "great hymns of the faith."
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
"God made the whole world dark so that all would understand."