the worship experiment, uk: week 14

St. Peter’s Church
21 February, 9:30am

This morning I went back to St. Peter’s church which I attended back in October. Last time, I had attended their evening service, which was a more traditional format with a very small, older constituency. The vicar encouraged me to attend the morning family service. About a month later, I attended their sister parish, St. John’s Houghton, which was also traditional, and again, the vicar encouraged me to go to the family service. So, now, 3 months later, I decided to try it. The room, packed with people (about 130), including lots of kids, parents and older people, generated a feeling of excitement. Honestly, I was expecting a full band, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, the service was still a fairly “Anglican” service, with a song, then another element, then another song, then element, etc., though it was casual, and the musicians consisted of a keyboard and a flute, with no worship leader. The vicar (the leader that day) “led” the music with no amplification. The room is a strange shape—it appears as though the church was originally just a nave and that it has an addition to it which extends the left side of it. Because of this, the instruments are in the newer portion of the room, but the vicar, pulpits and altar are in the original portion.

We were handed songbooks and liturgy books when we came in, though the liturgy wasn’t used the song words were projected. As is typical in the Church of England, there was a time of confession, Scripture reading and a time of intercession. There was also a missions focus. The offering plate was in the back of the room as we came in, and it was presented at the front during the closing song.

Right before the children were dismissed, the vicar invited kids and leaders who were in the previous weeks’ Holiday Club (it was half-term) to come up and teach the motions to a song they had learned. Everyone sang and a few people joined in on the motions.

The preacher that morning was a visiting preacher from the London area, who was a previous vicar at St. Peter’s. Before he shared from the Word of God, the vicar interviewed him and he shared about a difficulty his church is going through. The church did a series on marriage, tied in with Valentine’s Day. They have been given a hard time by the media over some things they said about marriage. It has hit national and even international coverage. He asked us to pray for them.

His sermon was on Philemon and he took us through the letter as if Philemon and his wife were reading it for the first time. After the close of the service, the preacher and the vicar left quickly to go to St. John’s and lead that service (not dissimilar to a large church in the States with multiple campuses).

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