Kingdom Faith Yorkshire, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England

Kingdom Faith Yorkshire, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England


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Mystery Worshipper: St Hilda
Church: Kingdom Faith Yorkshire
Location: Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 10 May 2009, 11:00am

The building

The church meets in an upstairs room at the local library. The building is probably Victorian, with an eye-catching neo-classical facade. There are some attractive architectural features in the room, but they are mostly confined to the ceiling, as the room itself is a windowless box with a stage at one end. North Yorkshire Library have a very strong corporate identity, exemplified by a purple colour scheme. And so the walls are painted purple and pale mauve, the ceiling cream and purple; the seats are upholstered in purple and the carpet is purpley-blue.

The church

Kingdom Faith Church was formed in 1992 by the former Anglican vicar turned itinerant preacher, Colin Urquhart. It is a small grouping of churches in London, West Sussex, Yorkshire and South-West England, with "relating churches" elsewhere in the UK and overseas. The church has a retreat house, Lamplugh House, in the wonderfully named village of Thwing, where they hold regular weekly meetings, retreats, and healing revival weekends.

The neighborhood

Scarborough is a well-known British holiday resort, still popular with families, and in recent years has become a popular area for those seeking a retirement home. The library is situated in the centre of Scarborough, opposite a multi-storey car park, a shopping centre and a defunct Woolworth's.

The cast

The service was led by someone I was able to identify only as Pastor Martin, and the preacher was called Joanne.

What was the name of the service?

Sunday Morning.

How full was the building?

Probably about half full, maybe 60 or so worshippers.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

As I entered, a church member at the foot of the stairs handed me a notice sheet while remaining engaged in conversation with another member. Once I reached the landing at the top of the stairs, I was pounced on by Peter, a member of the host team. He identified me as a visitor and took me off in a quiet corner to get my name and address for further reference. He then found another member of the host team, Shona, who stayed and chatted with me until just before the service began. She detached herself as we moved through into the main room, but promised to come and see me again after the service. Someone also spoke to me as I moved through into the main room, but I've forgotten her name.

Was your pew comfortable?

The seating consisted of rows of tip-up seats, upholstered in purple. They were very comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Very chatty and sociable. This is only church I've been to where it was possible to have tea or coffee before the service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Morning, everybody. Have a seat."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

None, except for their own Bibles.

What musical instruments were played?

Keyboards, guitars and drums.

Did anything distract you?

The worship time was really lively. A couple of people stood in the aisles and kind of shook. At the same time the odd latecomer walked in and children wandered around or played with toys. There was just too much going on.

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

The service was quite informal, with worship first, followed by church news and some people being prayed for, and then the sermon. There was a period of Hillsong-style rock worship, very loud and lively, with people clapping, jumping and raising their hands in praise. I didn't know any of the songs, but after a few repetitions they were easy to join in with. They had a great way of doing the notices: they showed a short film, with the church leaders standing in various scenic locations giving out the notices.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

35 minutes.

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

5 – Pleasant, but rather more like someone talking in house group than a sermon. This impression was heightened by the fact that members of the church interspersed amens and similar comments throughout the sermon.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

How are we to honour God? By obeying God; by honouring other church members, particularly leaders; and by being sincere in our love for God and others.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The sincerity of the worship offered and the enthusiastic fellowship among church members.

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

I just felt uneasy throughout the whole experience. I actually felt like I shouldn't be there as a Mystery Worshipper. I felt irrationally nervous of Pastor Martin (who I'm sure is a perfectly nice person), especially when I took a photo of the room after the service and he saw me and looked at me. This was the point where I fled to the outside world.

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

I stood around for a minute or two, expecting Shona to return as she had promised – but in vain. Soon a woman came and asked me if I was all right. She then invited me to go for coffee, so I joined the queue.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Piping hot tea and coffee in polystyrene cups. I don't know about the tea, but the coffee was a well-known instant brand, which I don't normally drink, but I really needed it on this occasion.

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

2 – My main problem was that the room was very airless so that I started to feel very drowsy during the sermon. The cup of coffee didn't really help, and I felt half asleep for most of the rest of the day. I really don't think church is meant to do that. It leached out any value in terms of closeness to God, or teaching received from the service.

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

No, it made me feel sleepy.

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

The way they did the notices. I want to do that in our church!

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