Wolston Baptist, Wolston, Warwickshire

Wolston Baptist, Wolston, Warwickshire, England


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Mystery Worshipper: Lady Lyndon
Church: Wolston Baptist
Location: Wolston, Warwickshire, England
Date of visit: Sunday, 12 August 2007, 11:00am

The building

A plain, white painted brick structure, dating from 1814, which has been used for worship since 1814. The inside resembles a theatre, with stalls and balcony. It is not an architectural masterpiece but there is something about this church that bids one come in.

The church

They share their offices with the Anglican parish church of St Margaret's, just down the road. It's difficult to get a feel for the church as community in just one visit, but it appears to be very active in serving the mature worshippers of Wolston.

The neighborhood

Wolston is a picturesque village between Coventry and Rugby. A brook (a tributary from the River Avon) runs along the main street and is prone to flooding. The church is situated in the heart of the village at the junction of School Street and Main Street.

The cast

Miss Rose Walker, a church member, preached. The church secretary, a lady named Dorothy, opened the service and then sat down at the piano. A gentleman named Keith (although Miss Walker referred to him as Ken, evoking laughter) read a passage from the gospel of St Luke.

What was the name of the service?

Morning Worship.

How full was the building?

The balcony was closed and the stalls less than half full. I counted 27 people, including Miss Walker and Dorothy.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Nearly everyone did! Faces turned to us and smiled, and several people came over to ask us our names and where we had come from. Within five minutes we had given several people our life stories.

Was your pew comfortable?

The seating consisted not of pews, but of black foam-backed chairs, and had the sermon not been so interesting I could have easily fallen asleep. If my husband and I should ever become homeless, the chairs at Wolston Baptist are where we'd choose to spend comfortable nights and possibly even days too.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

It was happy, jolly and expectant – the type of atmosphere one would expect at the beginning of a performance at the local theatre. The congregation knew they were in for a good time.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Good morning, everyone. I wish you a warm welcome."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Good News Bibles were scattered around the church. There were no hymn books as the lyrics were projected onto a large screen.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano, played by the delightful Dorothy (the secretary). She was a gifted player.

Did anything distract you?

Twenty minutes into the sermon, a new age traveller (as persons embracing the nomadic lifestyle are called) entered with a young teenage boy. Five minutes later a girl arrived to bring the boy a bottle of Coke, and then she left. No one batted an eyelid, although the preacher stopped speaking to allow them to get settled.

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

The worship was definitely not stiff upper-lip, but it was happy, if not clappy! It was obvious that all of the congregation were thoroughly enjoying themselves – except for the teenage boy, who looked bored.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

30 minutes.

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

9 – Miss Rose Walker was as fragrant as her name. I was spellbound for the full 30 minutes. Her smile had enough warmth to heat all of Wolston, and indeed all of Coventry too, during a power cut. I discovered at the end of the service that she is 89 years old.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The sermon was about the prodigal son and his "role model" father. The father worried and grieved for his son going away, but he allowed him to make his own choices and rejoiced when the son returned home. The father never, ever, gave up on his son. What a brilliant analogy to describe God and us. We often "leave home" but are always welcomed back with open arms when we return. We too, are given second chances.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The radiant Rose in her pretty peach blouse and her thought-provoking sermon. We were also hugged and kissed by Rose and Dorothy after the service – we thought that was lovely.

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

The projection screen was partially concealed by a hanging lamp, and so we could not see the first line of each hymn verse. Also, there were no after-service refreshments and I was gagging for a drink!

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

We couldn't possibly look lost because we had been found by everyone even before we had made it through the door. By service's end, rain had started coming down in buckets, and someone lent us an umbrella.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Packets of fair trade instant coffee were in evidence, but no hot water, milk or cups! If I visit this church again, I must remember to bring a flask.

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

7 – I would be very interested as we felt loved and at home here. My only concern is the elderly congregation. Perhaps that's my calling, to cast nets and help to bring in the youngsters to continue witnessing the Lord.

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

Oh yes, it was uplifting and encouraging.

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

I will remember the warmth and love. I must also try to remember to return the umbrella!

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