Mystery Worshipper: Variable Bede
Church: St Oswald's
Location: Millhouses, Sheffield, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 30 April 2006, 12:00am
A 1910 Gothic Revival church, with interesting features but not overly ornate, with a large chancel and good visibility (although a nave altar was used). The building looks much larger on the inside than from the outside!
Fr Brian Coleman, celebrant. A woman wearing a surplice and stole preached, but I couldn't find her name listed.
What was the name of the service?Annual Parish Meeting, followed by Sung Eucharist
How full was the building?
The 90 seats were almost full. The building could hold many more but they've deliberately arranged a limited number of seats to keep everyone closer together and near the altar.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A handshake with the hymnal and papers. After I'd been sitting for a few minutes, someone came up to welcome me as a visitor, but also to warn me that the annual parish meeting, which "shouldn't take too long", would precede the eucharist.
Was your pew comfortable?
A firm chair with a hassock and plenty of kneeling room. Very good, in my opinion.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Calm, but not silent.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Today, the annual parish meeting will precede the eucharist, but it shouldn't take too long."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
In the porch I also picked up a small leaflet with some history of the church and suggested prayers, and a visitor's Gift Aid envelope. When I went into the nave, a greeter gave me the weekly newsletter with the collect and readings on the back, another sheet with the setting of the gloria, etc., plus Hymns Old and New.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ and choir.
Did anything distract you?
I kept noticing that the church has a beautiful and spacious chancel with room for the choir and unusually good visibility from the nave, but they have an altar and choir seats in the nave to keep everyone closer together.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Moderately high church: bells without smells. I was later told that there is usually more music and I got the impression that the priest normally chanted some of the service.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The sermon started from the reading (Acts 3:12-19) in which Peter said that the Israelites rejected and killed Jesus out of their own and their rulers' ignorance, and ended as an exposition of Christ as the source of peace.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The singing was good and the people were very friendly.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Receiving communion standing up was a bit jarring (after years of traditional Anglican kneeling), but I could get used to it.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I didn't get a chance to hang around looking lost, since I passed the priest on the way to the hall where coffee was being served. He introduced himself and welcomed me to the church; after an interesting chat he asked someone to show me to the hall for coffee. I was only alone for a minute at one point (after coming out of the toilet) before several other regulars introduced themselves.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Café Direct instant, which was very hot!
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I'm considering it.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, and quite welcome as a visitor.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
Being greeted enthusiastically and sincerely by so many people during the coffee.