click here for gadget for god  
about the ship sign up for our newsletter
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
mystery worshipper home reports from the uk and ireland reports from the usa reports from australia and new zealand reports from canada reports from elsewhere famous and infamous reports comments and corrections
the mystery worshipper
Comment on this report, or find other reports.
Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you'd like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.
Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.
2108: St Nicholas, Allestree, Derby, England
St Nicholas, Allestree
Mystery Worshipper: The Revelator.
The church: St Nicholas, Allestree, Derby, England.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Derby.
The building: A 1950s red brick church exterior and an airy white interior. Inside is quite square, with white walls and rafters. Directly as you go in there are the pews, then an area at the front of the church separated off by rails with the communion table at the centre. This was dressed in a nice cream 1970s-style altar cloth. There were no candles on the table, just a flower arrangement. At the back of the church in the centre there was a medium sized hall/creche area. Toward the left there was a font, notice boards (up to date) and an area with the toilets.
The church: The church runs an Alpha course, several children's groups for various ages, and has several mid-week groups for members to participate in.
The neighbourhood: Derby is a city in the East Midlands, in the middle of England. The church is centrally located, in walking distance from the main campus of the University of Derby and Derby Cathedral. Nearby Derby Museum contains a masterpiece by Joseph Wright, the famous 18th-century Derby landscape artist, as well as a genuine Egyptian mummy.
The cast: The service was led by the vicar, the Revd William Bates, assisted by the associate priest, the Revd Jill Needle. Her husband, Jon Needle, led a worship group of five musicians.
The date & time: Christmas Day, 25 December 2010, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Christmas All-Age Service.

How full was the building?
There were approximately 80 people, which made the church full but not bursting.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, a lady gave me a hymn sheet and showed me to a gap in the seating.

Was your pew comfortable?
Must have been as I didn't really notice it.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Nice and lively. There were a lot of families there energising the place.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Merry Christmas!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
A pre-printed booklet.

What musical instruments were played?
Three acoustic guitars, an electric bass, and a violin.

Did anything distract you?
The low contrast on the video screen required an effort of concentration.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very much on the happy-clappy end of things. No procession, ministers in shirts and suits. The service was a family worship, so a bit of a hymn sandwich. It was Christmas, so it may have been slightly different from normal, but there was a pass-the-parcel exercise, which involved peeling off layers to reveal a Bible reading, and a film clip of the kings from the East, and genuine clapping during the songs. All the congregation (including the children) appeared pleased to be there and sang with enthusiasm.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – The sermon was more a kind of minimalist question and answer session involving the congregation, especially the children, and the vicar walked around the church doing this. Props such as presents were used frequently.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
What were the gifts that Jesus gave to the world? Love, life, joy and hope.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The music and singing, the bright airy interior and the general friendliness and enthusiasm of everyone. Proper coffee and chocolates.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The video screen, as noted above. And during the pass the parcel section, the parcel was being thrown around with some vigour and inadvertently hit a lady in the face. She had to flee to the back of the church, although she did rejoin later!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I was led to the tables where coffee and special chocolates were waiting for us!

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Very nice, and caffeinated, which was good. Being Christmas, it was served with lots of extra biscuits and the above-mentioned chocolates.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – If I lived nearer it would be a contender.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The friendly enthusiasm.
please give to the floating fund
camino pilgrimage
The Mystery Pilgrim
One of our most seasoned reporters makes the Camino pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Read here.
mystery worshipper sunday
London churches
Read reports from 70 London churches, visited by a small army of Mystery Worshippers on one single Sunday. Read here.
follow ship of fools on twitter
buy your ship of fools postcards
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
      More Mystery Worshipper reports          
      ship of fools