Thursday, 26 March 2015

Lent 5: 10:30am St Johns Methodist

I'm supposed to be an Anglican so was surprised that the Methodist church seemed the most natural so far. The church is part of a "circuit" of 8 churches, served by 2 ministers, and supported by a bunch of lay preachers. These ministers and preachers circulate round, leading services in different churches on the circuit each week. 

The preacher for today's service was a woman, who announced that the service would, unusually, be "by the book", (which made me think of Star Trek, Wrath of Khan) and that we should all pretend we were in some Anglican cathedral or something. The interior of the church isn't much like an Anglican cathedral. Nevertheless, at this point everybody found, as if by magic, a methodist service book. My father was a Methodist, and James knows about the Church of Scotland and both have always been quite insistent that one doesn't write down the service. But there it was! A whole book full. Most noticeable was the creed which consisted of believing in Father, Son and Holy Spirit and included none of the other various details common to both Anglican and Roman Catholic. 

There were maybe about 35 people in church (I sat too near the front to count easily). The sermon was pretty good - about how, as little seeds falling into fertile soil, our hard outer shells are removed so that we can grow and bear much fruit in Jesus.  At the end of the service, the man behind me could be heard to say that the preacher couldn't be faulted for going on too long, so I suspect they may not always receive such a clear message. Like proper Methodists, the singing was very loud. The words were written up on an overhead projector, but were not particularly modern, and the organist allowed the congregation to drag him back such that every hymn was a dirge by the end of the first verse, no matter how sprightly the starting tempo. Organist should make sure not to listen to the congregation, but I suppose in this case, when they were actually pretty loud, that's was more difficult than usual. However, the problem wasn't quite so bad on the 1970s song, played on the piano that the service was ended with. There was coffee after the service (only instant), and everyone seemed extremely friendly. No one asked stupid questions, and someone even asked the one question I had been wondering that no one else had asked, which is, after hearing we'd moved from Japan, to enquire what churches are like there. There were some people there of around my age, although, unlike at the Roman Catholic church, children were not in evidence. 

And their toilet is twinned! For all know, this practice is all last-decade, but I've not seen one before.

The church has big plans underway, architecturally speaking. The current building, built at the end of the Victorian period, is too big to heat and repair for an hour a week, so they've sold the land, and the building is to be demolished. They're also hoping to sell the organ (wonder if the organist will be included in the sale). A new "worship space" is being built in the car park of the present church hall, which will position it directly next to the Catholic Church and its church hall. I think they really ought to get together and rationalise these buildings. One church, one hall, one car park.

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