Mystery Worshipper: Aileen
Church: St James the Less
Location: Pimlico, London
Date of visit: Sunday, 18 May 2014, 6:00pm
It is a big high one, designed by G E Street (Street's first London church) and built between 1858 and 1861. The tower, four storeys tall, shows the Italian influence on Street. The inside is elaborately decorated, with lots of stained glass and paintings. All seating is on the ground floor, the floor being of black, red, white and yellow tile.
They describe themselves as charismatic and evangelical. They have both traditional and contemporary services on Sundays, plus junior church. There are prayer meetings during the week. They also have a number of home groups, which they say are essential to church life. They also serve a hot meal biweekly for the homeless (temporarily suspended, according to their website, pending refurbishment of the parish centre).
There are many homes all around there. And down from the road is the Thames. There are a couple of tubes close by, and a train up from them. Just a few shops near.
The Revd Lis Goddard, vicar, led us. Chris Atkinson, worship leader, preached.
What was the name of the service?Informal Evening Service
How full was the building?
Quite many people, about 40 adults. There was plenty of space for us to sit.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A man was at the door to welcome us. Many others welcomed me as well, and so did the vicar. She is lovely.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was very comfortable in the pew, with soft red cushions to sit on and other soft ones to kneel on.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Many people were chatting, and a man and woman were playing the guitar and singing. Also a few people arrived a tiny bit late after the first prayer.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Let's pray as we begin."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Holy Bible, New International Version. We were also given a paper with information. The hymns were projected up front of us.
What musical instruments were played?
One man played the guitar and one woman sang. They were excellent! There were an organ and piano and drums beside them, which were not used.
Did anything distract you?
The beautiful church appointments reminded me that I don't always pray as much as I should.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
People sang well and held up their hands to God some both hands and others just one hand.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Chris Atkinson preached well.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Jesus was raised again to life. If that had not happened, we would be left in death.
God has forgiven all sin, even our future sins. We know God. Jesus knows us. Jesus is alive and forgives us!
People have got to start knowing God. Remember: we are loved and saved by God. Let's all show the life of God in us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Earlier we had been given candles. At the end of the sermon, the vicar told us to light them and lift them up to God. We all did that, and it felt like going to heaven!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There was nothing about the service that would qualify, but thinking about Christ's death and resurrection sometimes leads me to dwell on death.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We all clapped as we received the blessing.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There were tea and coffee and lovely things to eat with them. People were very nice and so were the tea and coffee and bits of food!
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – It was a lovely church, lovely people, lovely clergy. Also excellent music.
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 feeling of God's love that this service gave rise to.