Ship of Fools
  Bulletin Boards
  Mystery Worshipper
  Caption Competition
  Gadgets for God
  The Fruitcake Zone
  Signs & Blunders
  Born Twice
  About Ship of Fools
  Support us!
  Contact us!
1084: Castleton Methodist, Castleton, Derbyshire, England
Other reports | Comment on this report
Castleton Methodist, Castleton, Derbyshire
Mystery Worshipper: Kettle.
The church: Castleton Methodist, Castleton, Derbyshire, England.
Denomination: Methodist.
The building: The church consists of a large, traditional looking chapel and another room used for coffee. The second room contained a lift which looked like it could beam you up to the Enterprise. The kitchen was amazing.
The church: Primarily a female congregation, it appeared. They seem to be making an effort to turn the church into a community building of sorts, having groups meeting in it and the like. There was even mention of a tea dance.
The neighbourhood: Castleton's name derives from its most prominent feature, the keep of Peveril Castle, built by the son of Norman the Conqueror. The village is a popular tourist spot in England's Peak District, perfect for walking and caving. There are several caves nearby, one of which is most unforgettably called The Devil's Arse.
The cast: The Rev. Dr Martyn D Atkins, minister.
What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship.

How full was the building?
Mostly full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, the minister and at least three of the congregation said hello, asked me where I was from, and told me a bit about the church. Very friendly, although at one point I mentioned that I'm not a fan of spontaneous prayer, and the minister retorted with "Oh, a Calvinist, are you then?" Grrrr!

Was your pew comfortable?
Hmmm, not comfortable exactly. By the end of the sermon my bum was more than a little numb.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Busy, getting ready, catching up on the week's gossip.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome, especially those who are visiting us this morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymns and Psalms and Cliff Praise. I'm assuming the latter was named after Cliff College rather than Cliff Richard.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ for the Hymns and Psalms selections, and guitar and recorder for the two Cliff Praise ones.

Did anything distract you?
I was a little distracted due to being cross at the minister for calling me a Calvinist.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Well, it was traditional in that we sang some good loud Methodist hymns with organ, but the mood became more relaxed over a couple of choruses in the middle (Be Still was one of them). No clapping, though.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
26 minutes – but I managed to say awake!

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 – The minister liked to name drop a bit. I was unsure whether this was to provide scholarly authority for his points, or merely out of a sense of "look what I've read!" He also liked to dance around a lot, but at least that stopped it from being boring.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Dr Atkins took as his text the road to Emmaus. After zipping through a summary of the whos, whats and whys of the story, he postulated that Easter is like a football match.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Getting to sing with gusto, knowing that try as you will you can't really be heard above the organ!

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The numb bum was pretty bad. I wouldn't like to spend eternity with a numb bum.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was offered tea and cake and chatted to by various members of the congregation. Then I went back for more tea. Mmmm, tea!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The tea was good. My only regret was that it was served in dainty teacups rather than big huge mugs. (One sip and it was gone.) The cake was nice, too, apart from some very odd black icing.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – A great service to come to before an afternoon in the hills.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Hmmm, yes, I suppose so. Nice to see a community of Christians worshipping together.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Being called a Calvinist. Grrrrrrrr, again!
The Mystery Worshipper is sponsored by, the internet service provider from Christian Aid. By offering email services, special offers with companies such as and, surefish raises more than £300,000 a year for Christian Aid's work around the world.

Click here to find out how to become a Mystery Worshipper. And click here if you would like to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Top | Other Reports | Become a Mystery Worshipper!

© Ship of Fools 2005
Surefish logo