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|2251: St Mary's,
Upton, Wirral, England
Upton, Wirral, England.
of England, Diocese
A pleasing grey stone building with a slate roof, cruciform
in shape, stained glass at the east end. The church is surrounded
by trees and a Victorian graveyard. The interior is modern in
feel with an airy spaciousness. The pews are traditional with
upholstered chairs in the chancel. To the right of the chancel
arch is the overhead projection screen. A banner proclaiming
"Grace, Mercy, Peace" hangs in the centre. The floor
is carpeted. Access ramps for the less able, large print material
and a loop system are all provided.
The church seems to play a prominent part in the community at
Upton, with a great deal going on every day of the week in the
way of activities: "Dots to Tots", Alpha course, Twenties
to Thirties group, World Church group the list goes on.
There is something for everyone. During August, everyone was
invited to a barbecue after the 11.00am service each Sunday,
though it was raining on the day I was there and the BBQ had
to be cancelled.
The village of Upton has grown from a tiny hamlet mentioned
in the Domesday Book, yet in spite of urban sprawl it has maintained
a village-like feel. The church lies on the main road through
the village. There is a multiplicity of shops: florists, vets,
estate agents, gym, hair salon, two pubs, chemist, butcher,
cake shop, undertakers, off-licence, etc. Upton Hall girls’
school is round the corner.
The Revd Martin Daly, associate vicar; Rosalind Carter with
the pre-school play group. A lady called Gillian signed for
The date & time:
28 August 2011, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
Together at Eleven with Holy Communion.
How full was the building?
Over half full, approximately 90 worshippers.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A warm greeting from a man in a wheelchair set the tone for
the whole morning. A second man with a smile asked if I was
visiting, and ferreted in the cupboard for a magazine to give
me as well as an information sheet for the week.
Was your pew comfortable?
Surprisingly comfortable for a pew!
How would you describe the pre-service
Beforehand, the music group rehearsed for a few minutes. The piano played quietly and set a prayerful atmosphere with subdued chatter. The overhead projector gave details of future events and speakers, with appeals for charitable organisations and an invitation to stay behind for freshly brewed ethically-produced coffee. It was rather like watching the adverts in a cinema before the main picture!
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good morning and welcome to our family service. I see
we have visitors so a warm welcome to you."
What books did the congregation use during the
No books were used. Words for all the songs and prayers appeared on the overhead projector.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, guitar, trumpet, flute, oboe and drums. A lady sang with
Did anything distract you?
Distractions were all around but only added to the conviviality:
signing for the deaf, children chattering, the young trumpeter
adding his own style to the music by finishing off a couple
of the songs with an amusing flourish.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
Moderately happy-clappy for the first part of the service, but
more middle-of-the-road during the communion. The first part
was led by Rosalind Carter, who invited the youngsters in the
congregation to sit on the floor in front of her. With the confidence
and style of a practised speaker, she told the story of the
Naaman and Elisha (2 Kings 5) in a children’s version, divided
into three parts by songs and prayers. Then the Revd Daly preached
on a similar theme but with a slightly different orientation.
Everyone was encouraged to participate in the communion, whether
for real bread cut into chunks or unleavened gluten-free wafers,
and wine. Alternatively, we could go up for a blessing. The
children had their own version of bread and wine in bread sticks
and grapes. I call that truly inclusive! There was no need for
anyone to feel a rank outsider.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
6 The associate vicar smiled and made his subject as
interesting as the children’s version.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
His text was 2 Kings 5 (Naaman, a leper, is healed by Elisha,
who wants nothing in return). Naaman’s wife’s young servant
girl advised Naaman to seek out Elisha, a prophet in her own
country from where she had been captured as a slave. The girl
was not bitter about her situation. Indeed, she forgave and
helped the man responsible for her captivity. She was not overawed
by the high status of Naaman, and her courage was rewarded by
Naaman’s listening to her and heeding her advice. There was
obviously something special about her; she was the unsung hero
of the story!
Which part of the service was like being in
At the start of the service, the Revd Daly explained the absence
of the vicar, the Revd Graeme Skinner. He informed us that a
sudden family bereavement of Mr Skinner’s had called him away
from his parish church. The wave of love and sympathy that engulfed
the whole church showed me how much the whole congregation cared
for their minister and each other. It was a very moving experience.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I don’t think there would have been much room for a devilish
presence that day! If I had to find any annoyance it was because
the usual stocks of fresh fairly traded coffee had run out and
not been replaced – we would have to make do with ordinary coffee.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I looked round the building at the end of the service. In those
few minutes, several people invited me through to the parish
hall for a drink.
How would you describe the after-service
I was led along a covered area from church to hall where tea,
coffee, biscuits and juice were available, served in white crockery.
My cup of coffee was made to order and was steaming hot, though
not ethically produced that week. A cup for donations sat on
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 St Mary’s, Upton, is an odds-on favourite in the race
they are running to win! Their vision statement sums it all
up: "The vision of our church is to make a difference wherever
we are as we share faith for life."
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. I particularly like the rapport between worship leaders
and congregation, and the general good feeling. The Spirit definitely
moves in this place.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The trumpet played by the young man in the band.
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