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.
2317: Mona Baptist, Kingston, Jamaica
Mona Baptist, Kingston
Mystery Worshipper: Church Hopper.
The church: Mona Baptist Church, Kingston, Jamaica.
Denomination: Jamaica Baptist Union, Kingston & St Andrew Circuit.
The building: The church is designed in a circular shape. The benches are shaped in a circular pattern so that everyone is seated around the altar, as it were.
The church: The church is located near the two major universities in Kingston and was originally designed in part to minister to the students. It offers a Bible study, women's federation, youth fellowship and some lifelong learning classes.
The neighbourhood: Kingston is the capital of Jamaica, and the area where the church is located is a mix of shops, commercial buildings and houses, as well as the two universities. It is off a very busy road and near a bus stop.
The cast: The service was led by Deacon Carol Lowe-Chin, and the Revd Peter Harding gave the message. He was filling in for the resident pastor, the Revd Dr Stephen Jennings.
The date & time: Sunday, 18 December 2011, 10.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Morning Worship.

How full was the building?
It was half full – about 100 people. It looked like the church could hold 200.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, someone greeted us and handed us a bulletin.

Was your pew comfortable?
Alas, no. It was a hard wooden bench with no padding, which started to hurt the butt about an hour in (and we still had an hour to go). While the benches looked attractive, they were even less comfortable than straight wooden benches.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
I was a little late, so singing had already commenced by the time I got there.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
Missed those.

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Hymns and choruses were projected on an overhead. The Bible translation used was the New International Version. However, people brought their own Bibles so there were probably many translations.

What musical instruments were played?
Keyboard and drums. No Christmas hymns on the agenda, which surprised me, seeing as Christmas was just two weeks away.

Did anything distract you?
Apart from the tough bench? As I said before, the church is very close to the main road and, in true Caribbean style, doors and windows were wide open (for air) so you hear the traffic noise. But the standout was a truck rumbling down the road with very loud speakers urging everyone to "Vote for the Jamaica Labor Party" (an election was coming up in a few days).

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
On the happy-clappy side. Hand clapping during the singing, which I appreciated. When the prayer was given, the speaker got very emotional, and the congregation started shouting and praising. The preacher was more subdued and things quieted down afterwards.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
45 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – He was a straightforward speaker, who held your interest. He did mention that Christmas begins on 25 December, a concept foreign to those folks who think that is when Christmas ends.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"With God, nothing is impossible" (Luke 1:37). He connected the Occupy movement with Advent and the upcoming election. We need to capture the spirit of Advent, as it is deliverance from the evil of the world. Luke's gospel is full of weak people who encountered the power structure, and their fortunes were reversed through Jesus.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
There wasn't a choir that day so the congregation did the singing. It was wonderful. Back home, you get so used to being "entertained" – either the choir or the rock band is miked so loud the congregational singing does not matter. Here it did, and we rose to the challenge. We sang "What a mighty God we serve", among other songs, loudly and enthusiastically.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Have I already mentioned the bench?

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People came up and shook hands to welcome me to the service. I was greeted very warmly.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Mention was made from the pulpit that refreshments were available for visitors, but I stopped to talk to so many people that I forgot to visit the reception area.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 – I thought the speaker was very good and people were welcoming. However, I could see that depending on who was speaking, the church could get very emotional and into shouting and crying – a bit too much for me.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, very. I love to see how God is worshipped all over the world.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
Uh, the bench?
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