Canada Water Church, London

Canada Water Church, Canada Water, London


Info and corrections →

Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Canada Water Church
Location: Canada Water, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 27 September 2015, 10:45am

The building

They meet in the Canada Water Library, an architecturally, erm, unconventional building, as may be seen in the picture. It is the work of architect Piers Gough, noted for his redevelopment of the London docklands. The name derives from Canada Lake, the only freshwater body in the London docklands, which got its name from Canada Dock, used primarily by Canadian ships. The building is a culture centre consisting of library, auditorium and meeting rooms. There was no evidence that a church met here. Only those who know will find the church, as it is well soundproofed from the rest of the library. The auditorium was disconcerting in a number of ways. The first thing that strikes you upon entering is the garishness of the colour, which is best described as being half way between pink and mauve. Secondly, the room is pentagonal, which perturbs those of us accustomed to rooms with four walls. The seating was on a shallow banking.

The church

From talking to a few people, I gather the church is around six or seven years old. As well as the Sunday service, they host a midweek Bible study and a pre-marriage course. I am also led to understand that the congregation draws heavily from the financial sector, given the church's proximity to the financial district of Canary Wharf.

The neighborhood

Canada Water is a fairly recently regenerated area of east London. Formerly a dockyards, the place is still quite aquatic in feel, with a large artificial lake next to the library, hosting a number of coots and moorhens; about half a dozen fishermen lined one side of it too. Walking around before the service, I observed that the area was very quiet, but had the sort of soulless open expanse that reminded me of Milton Keynes, a "new city" built from scratch in Buckinghamshire.

The cast

No one person led the service. It was quite communal, with one person introducing the service, another giving notices, another leading prayer. The minister in charge, the Revd Kruger De Kock, welcomed some people into membership. The sermon was preached by Pete (I didn't catch his surname).

What was the name of the service?

The service didn't have a name.

How full was the building?

Very full, with about 80-90 people present. Looking round the room, I saw a noticeably young demographic, with well over half falling around the 20-35 age bracket.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Initially, no. This may have been because I walked in the wrong door. I took a seat and sat on my own for about ten minutes before people started to come over, introduce themselves, and ask what brought me there.

Was your pew comfortable?

The seats in the auditorium were pew-like, though well padded with cushions that made them rather comfy. Unfortunately, they were the same pinky-mauve as the walls.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

The worship band played quietly, allowing people to hear one another as they greeted one another and catch up on the week's activities. Overall, it was quite friendly. A few young children scampered back and forth across the room.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

I didn't catch the very opening words, as I was talking to Kruger at the time. The first I picked up were: "If this is your first time here, you are welcome."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

On the seats were a number of Gideon Bibles, all New International Version. All the songs and scripture readings were projected onto the wall.

What musical instruments were played?

A keyboard and semi-acoustic guitar.

Did anything distract you?

Though I didn't know anyone there, I had a nagging feeling I'd met one of the singers before, but couldn't think where from. Though she may have had a passing resemblance to someone I once met, it's the sort of feeling that just nags at you, like watching a film and trying to work out where you've seen that actor before.

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

It was a mixture. I was expecting fairly happy-clappy, so was surprised when the sung worship was interspersed with spoken liturgy.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

20 minutes.

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

7 – Pete isn't a full time minister and he seemed a little nervous speaking to such a full room. But he was clearly well prepared, with just a single sheet of notes tucked into his Bible.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Security. Apparently, it was the end of a series on prayer, though the link to prayer was somewhat tenuous. Based on Psalm 3 ("Lord, how many are my foes!") and drawing from the refugee crisis emerging out of Syria and the Mediterranean, as well as financial security worries that many of us may have, he made contradistinction between these and our ultimate need: to be saved from our sins by Jesus. The conclusion was that you need Jesus more than you need a change in your circumstances.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The affirmation of new members. It's always great to see people committing to a church, and this definitely looks like a church that is growing.

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

The garish walls were not only an affront to the visual senses, but it also made the words that were projected onto them very hard to read.

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

I was left to my own devices for a while, mirroring the pre-service greeting. Oddly, most people remained in their seats after the service ended, with very few going for coffee. Eventually, one person came over to say hello and introduced me to a few others.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Nothing special. It was self-service, fairly bland and in a paper cup. In compensation for this, there were some mini croissants available. The thing that really caught me eye, though, was the two jugs on the side that looked for all the world as though they were full of the minty Cuban cocktail called a mojito. It turns out though, it was just water with a whole load of mint thrown in.

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

8 – If I lived closer to the area, I'd definitely come back.

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 mauve-pink walls.

Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you’d like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.

Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Comments and corrections

To comment, please scroll to the end of this report and add your thoughts there. To send us factual corrections, please contact us. We also discuss reports on our Ecclesiantics bulletin board.

© Ship of Fools