St Nicholas, Warwick

St Nicholas, Warwick, England


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Mystery Worshipper: Dissenter 1662
Church: St Nicholas
Location: Warwick, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 8 September 2013, 10:00am

The church

They are part of the Warwick Team Ministry and members of Churches Together in Warwick. They host film nights, afternoon teas, recitals and concerts, and other social events. They also have a Sunday Club, where (quoting from their website) "the children join the main 10am service for the first five minutes and then leave to join in activities together before returning in time for a blessing at communion."

The neighborhood

Warwick is a town on the River Avon just south of Coventry. The church is situated close to the entrance to Warwick Castle (founded by William the Conqueror in 1068) and is separated from the castle by a well-flowered roundabout. The present church is still regarded historically as the castle’s church; hence the Earl of Warwick is a patron.

The cast

The Revd Linda Duckers, team vicar, was the celebrant. The Revd Kevin Barnard, curate, preached.

What was the name of the service?

Holy Communion and Sunday Club

How full was the building?

About one-third to one-half full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Door stewards greeted us warmly and gave us hymn books. At the exchange of peace, there were people swarming everywhere. My hand was shaken at least eight times. A good welcome.

Was your pew comfortable?

Comfortable chairs.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Fairly quiet, some subdued chat.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Welcome to any visitors," spoken with warmth by the celebrant.

What books did the congregation use during the service?

A newsletter and service sheet with readings and post-communion prayer; locally produced Common Worship communion booklet; Hymns Old and New.

What musical instruments were played?

Organ and piano. The organ was driven to the limit by the organist, who played painfully loud for each verse of every hymn. Good speed but no sensitivity for context. The anthems during communion were much more sensitively accompanied on piano. Thomas Tallis' If ye love me was sung a cappella, sensitively if a little ragged around the edges.

Did anything distract you?

No distractions apart from organ volume.

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

Very middle-of-road. Traditional processional with crucifer and choir plus altar party up the side, round the back and down the centre aisle. They left same way.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

19 minutes.

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

5 – The Revd Kevin Barnard preached from an A5 black ring binder prominently labelled "Sermon". He read in a fairly lively fashion, with some asides.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The cost of commitment.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Nothing unorthodox here. Everything seemed firmly grounded.

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

The organ playing.

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

Everyone picked up quite quickly. There was quite a bit of enjoyable generally "churchy" chat.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Coffee in a mug plus a biscuit. Very acceptable. Several people chatted with me, and one even put money in for my coffee!

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

3 – I'll be back to enjoy the friendliness of the place, but I'll remember to bring ear defenders to protect against the organ volume.

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

Yes, and I felt confirmed in my faith as well.

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

The pain in my ears.

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