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741: St Mary's, Portskewett, Monmouth, Wales
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St Mary's, Portskewet, Wales
Mystery Worshipper: Saronie.
The church: St Mary's, Portskewett, Monmouth, Wales.
Denomination: Church in Wales (Anglican)
The building: This is a small, typical Welsh village parish church seating approx. 125 people. The building includes a gallery. It is the most dominant building in the village.
The neighbourhood: Portskewett lies between the two road bridges which cross the estuary of the River Severn, on the Welsh side of the river.
The cast: Rev. Lyndon Harrison, the vicar.
What was the name of the service?
9.15am Parish Eucharist.

How full was the building?
There were only a few places free, even in the gallery.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
I was given a newsletter and a locally produced communion book, along with a very new Anglican hymn book that even contained my favourite hymn, "And Can it Be". This is most unusual for any Anglican church I have visited. But there was no specific welcome.

Was your pew comfortable?
A standard pew which would have been uncomfortable if it had been a long service.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was plenty of quiet talking, but it wasn't off-putting.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to St.Mary's – and a special welcome to my brother, who is with us for the weekend."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The new Anglican prayer book and a locally produced communion service book. There were no pew Bibles, as all the readings were printed on the service sheet.

What musical instruments were played?
A pipe organ in the gallery. There was one choirboy (who doubled as a server at communion) and a lay reader lady who read one of the lessons.

Did anything distract you?
Nothing – this was a very pleasing and peaceful church.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The vicar preached from the chancel steps and didn't use the pulpit. This was a traditional type of service, and I got the impression that the vicar would have been a bit happy clappy if he could have got away with it.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes, preaching without notes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – I liked this preacher and his pleasing Welsh accent.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The service was based on the theme of temptation.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The prayers.

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

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
A lady asked me why I was in the village – was I a visitor or a new resident? Everyone else appeared to be talking to their friends.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was none. I think the vicar had to rush off to take another service in Rogiet at 10.45. He also had a Christening at 2.30 and the evening service at 5.00pm.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I moved to this area, I would probably make this my home church. I'm a Methodist, but there is no Methodist chapel in the village.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very much so.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The vicar's prayers made many references to healing and led me to believe this was an aspect of his ministry. The last hymn was "Shine, Jesus, Shine" and I thought he was going to raise his hands... but he only moved them outwards slightly.
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