|897: St Andrew's, Girton, Cambridge, England|
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Mystery Worshipper: Marvin K. Mooney.
The church: St Andrew's, Girton, Cambridge, England.
Denomination: Church of England.
The building: In a small village just outside Cambridge, this picturesque, stone-built church seems to have a very homely, well-loved feel as you approach it through the churchyard dripping with trees. The architectural style is Saxon/Norman, making this church around 1,000 years old in places. The current weather-vane presumably depicts St Andrew himself in a fishing boat.
The church: This was a family church, not at all studentified as happens to quite a lot of places this close to a university.
The neighbourhood: Girton College at the university has associations with this village via its founder.
The cast: Rev. Hanno Fritzenkutter led the service, and was assisted during the distribution of communion by Rev. Will Adam, who also preached. The reader took the gospel lesson and a girl from the choir read from the Old Testament.
What was the name of the service?
Communion Service According to the Liturgy of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany.
How full was the building?
At a push, there is seating for just over 100 people in the church; as there were only around 60 or 70 there, we had a bit of comfort room.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A lady greeted me and smiled as she handed me a hymn book, news sheet and order of service. Noticing I was new, she intimated that I was "in for a bit of a treat today", as the service was to be "slightly different from a typical third Sunday communion".
Was your pew comfortable?
The wooden pews had been carpeted, and cushions were provided. These may have been kneelers, but were stacked on the end of the pew.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The building itself seemed to exude a tranquillity which was enhanced by the hushed chattering amongst the congregation, who appeared very much at ease in each others' presence. The organ was playing softly, and the chancel was lit only by candles. The whole place had an atmosphere of worship carried down through the centuries. Though the words used might change, the God worshipped does not.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Hello and welcome to the latest in our ecclesiastical tours."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The New Church Hymnal and the New International Version of the Bible. Communion was celebrated using the liturgy of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany.
What musical instruments were played?
The choir, which numbered only 10 people, led the singing superbly. They were beautifully complemented by the accompaniment provided by the organ, which was played with great care and sensitivity.
Did anything distract you?
The whole congregation (except for the one Germanic Lutheran in the congregation) were confused and mildly distracted by the instructions in the service sheet regarding when to sit and stand these are quite different from the Book of Common Prayer or Common Worship!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Fairly stiff upper lip. The responses, psalm and other parts of the liturgy were sung, although I didn't catch the particular setting used. All the congregation joined in with these and the hymns with great gusto.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 he stood with his right foot slightly forward of his left foot, but almost every minute, he'd swap them over then swap back. A new form of ecclesiastical dance? Or itching powder in his underwear?
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
In the 15th century, the church had differences; this led to the reformation and the creation of the Church of England. However, since the Second World War, the church appears to be converging once more. "In Jesus, we will find a way to be one church and overcome our differences."
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The first half of a verse from one of the hymns: "When God Almighty took His place, To save the sometimes human race..."
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Being one of six people who automatically stood up for the first hymn. Apparently, Lutherans don't.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not a lot. I just felt silly.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no coffee, but the Revs spoke to each person on their way out.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 I wouldn't mind visiting again, though.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes it was a reminder that the church is still the church, and still worships the same God, whatever garb she's dressed up in today.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sunlight streaming through the window in front of me kept drawing my attention. I couldn't figure out what it depicted it couldn't have been the 12 stations of the cross, as there were too many pictures.