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2615: St Nicholas, Studland, Dorset, England
St Nicholas, Studland (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: St Nicholas, Studland, Dorset, England.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Salisbury.
The building: A beautiful stone building dating from the 12th century. It has a short tower that was never completed. It is very pretty inside, with flowers all around on the day of my visit. There are also some rather naughty carvings depicting the carnal sins!
The church: There are four churches in the team ministry, and St Nicholas is the oldest. They have a Mothers Union and put on a community coffee every Thursday morning. There is also a flower arrangers group, which is not surprising given how prettily the church was decorated. They also sponsor a flower festival.
The neighbourhood: Studland is a coastal village with some very pretty beaches and a nature reserve. There are also many beautiful ancient homes. There are many trees and flowers there, and very few pavements, meaning that cars and bicycles are not much in evidence. The very first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus opened with Michael Palin staggering out of the sea and collapsing on one of Studland's beaches before uttering: "It's..."
The cast: The Revd Stephen Gorring.
The date & time: Sunday, 13 October 2013, 10.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion, Common Worship.

How full was the building?
At least 50 adults. Is not a huge church, but there were still many places available.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were welcomed with a smile at the door, given the books, and shown where we would be comfortable.

Was your pew comfortable?
A comfortable pew, with nice soft green seats.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was quiet. The choir rehearsed a bit, and people were speaking gently to each other.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, everyone. Welcome all of you to the church."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Songs of Victory (Words Edition), the Bible, and a bulletin.

What musical instruments were played?
An electronic keyboard with piano and organ stops both used. It was played nicely.

Did anything distract you?
I remembered when I was a child in church, we always had to bring our own Bibles, and so it was a bit of a distraction to me to see Bibles supplied in the pews.

St Nicholas, Studland (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
All sang well but didn't move around much.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
25 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – The preacher spoke very well and gave us good things to keep us close to God.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Faith – saving faith – is a gift from God. We must never let go of it. Jesus remained faithful even unto death. We must fight against our bad behaviour. God will help us. He will give us a better life. Follow and love Jesus.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I was pleased to have communion, remembering Jesus and God and the Spirit, and those in heaven.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I realised that I am not always perfectly behaved and that sometimes I let go of faith.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people told us to come for tea and coffee.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was really nice tea and coffee, and sweet things to eat too. We could all sit down as we ate and drank.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – I don't live in Dorset, but if I did I would belong to this church, as it is a really good one.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I felt very happy to be a Christian and to rely on God.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
To keep trusting God.
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