Canberra Baptist, Kingston, Canberra, Australia


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Canberra Baptist
Location: Kingston, Canberra, Australia
Date of visit: Sunday, 6 June 2021, 11:00am

The building

Photo: © Nick-D and used under license A pleasant reminder of 1929 Canberra when the place was little more than a sheep paddock. Set on a large site, it was funded by Australian Baptists to provide a presence in the new capital. The building is largely original and presents well.

The church

The community garden on the church site is reported as being for all people from the community regardless of creed, lifestyle or other defining characteristic. Refugee families are welcomed here. This appears typical of the church's social involvement. They supported Knit for Climate Action, a nationwide project in which participants knitted scarves, to be presented to government officials, depicting the effects of climate change.

The neighborhood

Canberra is Australia’s capital city. The Kingston suburb is one of the city’s oldest and most densely populated. The church is located not far from Parliament House and within the Burley Griffin topography circular road plan that so puzzles non-Canberrans.

The cast

The minister led and introduced the sermon equivalent. Members of the congregation read the lessons.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Morning.

How full was the building?

About 70 people. Probably 70 per cent full, which was comfortable given Covid guidelines.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

IIn the agreeable sunshine outside the church we were greeted during the Covid check-in and again as we entered the building. The minister also came over to greet us once we were seated.

Was your pew comfortable?

The 1929 pews would have been grim originally but cushioning made them adequately comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

The church was pleasantly quiet as we entered ten minutes before the service. That was because it was almost empty. We wondered whether Canberra's sub-zero temperature during the night had kept everyone away, but five minutes before kick-off the warmly dressed congregation flooded in.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

‘Good morning and welcome to the service, those who are here and those on Zoom.’

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Hymns, prayers and readings were clearly projected on screens.

What musical instruments were played?

The present pipe organ was built in 1958 by J.P. Eagles and was rebuilt in 1982 by A. Welby. The sound is superb.

Did anything distract you?

About 17 degrees on our arrival in the church was not too bad for a freezing Canberra morning. But the abrupt arrival of the congregation added about 100 watts of heating per person, which made the place quite comfortable.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

The worship style felt appropriate for the building and relevant to the congregation's priorities, particularly the opening hymn ‘Community of Christ.’

Exactly how long was the sermon?

23 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 — Not a sermon as such, but a live video presentation. I imagine the ‘sermon equivalent’ is non standard, but I regard it as a worthwhile approach.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Christian community involvement. The video presentation was about West Melbourne Baptist Church’s community involvement, particularly with asylum seekers and tertiary students. It finished with a reflection on Jeremiah 29:4-7 (build houses, settle down, get married, etc.).

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Singing, led by a small choir and flawless organ playing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

The sound system is clearly not the latest in technology and could do with an upgrade. A bit awkward to find the Covid-safe box for the collection after the service.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

People were relaxed and happy to chat.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Presumably because of Covid arrangements, there was no coffee.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

10 — If I lived in Canberra this would be my church.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?


What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

The community involvement, the music, the support of Knit for Climate Action. I thought knitting was an unusually passive form of protest until I heard they were constructing a five metre set of knitting needles. Once someone learns to knit with them, there will be an entry in Guinness World Records

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