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3092: St Margaret and St James, Long Marton, England
St Margaret & St James, Long Marton (Exterior)
Photo: Jhsteel and used under license
Mystery Worshipper: Aidan of Lindisfarne.
The church: St Margaret and St James, Long Marton, Cumbria, England.
Denomination: Church of England, Diocese of Carlisle.
The building: A stone and slate Grade One listed structure, it predates the Norman Conquest and is a mix of Norman and Anglo-Saxon styles. The tower dates from the 12th century. Chapel and vestry were added later. Several doorways and windows appear to have been blocked as the centuries rolled on. A major restoration took place in 1880. In 2013 a fund-raising drive was conducted to finance badly needed repairs.
The church: St Margaret and St James is part of Heart of Eden team ministry, a benefice consisting of twelve churches all told. As a young child in the 1970s, I would holiday nearby. In those days there was a resident elderly priest. Today one full-time stipendiary priest takes care of the entire benefice. St Margaret and St James has holy communion each Sunday but at different times depending on the week. There is also a Wednesday said holy communion without sermon.
The neighbourhood: Always a small village throughout its history, Long Marton has only about 800 residents today. The railway station closed in 1970, but the pub remains busy. The village hall, dating from 1839, hosts a variety of activities and is available for hire. There are several holiday cottages available for rent. The church is situated about half a mile from the centre of Long Marton in the direction of Brampton, and close to the roadside.
The cast: The Revd Roy Mc Cullough.
The date & time: Remembrance Sunday, 13 November 2016, 9.15am.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Communion.

How full was the building?
Twenty-two people were present – no one under 30 years old.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes – an elderly lady dressed in black. She said "Good morning" and made a remark about the North Face logo on my jacket.

Was your pew comfortable?
Seating was installed in 1880 – oak pews with kneelers – no cushions – say no more – but relatively comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The organ was playing – very quiet and prayerful. Perhaps this was because you could feel the reverential atmosphere of over 1000 years of worship.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning and welcome to our worship – worship on this most solemn of days, Remembrance Sunday."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Red Common Worship Service book, blue hymn book and a folded A4 leaflet with the collect, psalm and readings.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ – four hymns. One I remembered from the 1970s: "For the healing of the nations, Lord, we pray with one accord."

Did anything distract you?
There was a teddy with a resplendent red silk waistcoat in the pulpit; it was there throughout the service. In the baptistery was a group of empty little wooden chairs – sadly there were no children present. And the lady in black seemed terribly obsessed with the North Face logo on my jacket – she spoke to me about it three times, stroking it as she asked me if I had ever been to the North Face.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional C of E Common Worship for Remembrance Sunday. At the end of the service, the priest asked us to join him in the graveyard as he read out the names of those who had died during war. A 94 year old war veteran laid a poppy wreath as the priest recited, "Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."

St Margaret & St James, Long Marton (Ceremony)

Exactly how long was the sermon?
9 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Engaging - short and concise. Good eye contact with those present.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The preacher spoke about his grandfather, who died during war and whom he sadly never met. He spoke about how memories have been forgotten and how men are indifferent to war. He spoke about the need to live in peace.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The building – 11th century – 1000 years of worship. The atmosphere was special. I can recall worshipping here for an Easter service in the 1970s with my parents. It's like the church in the children's novel by Michelle Magorian, Goodnight Mister Tom.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The Gloria – it was played at great speed. It must have been the fastest Gloria in Christendom! And the North Face lady.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I stood at the War Memorial for a time, and eventually the North Face lady invited me back into the church for coffee.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea and coffee were served from the tower. A large plate of biscuits was also on hand.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – Faithful people keeping the rhythm of prayer in a small village. A special atmosphere.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes –- though traditional, it provided me a space to reflect and be thankful. It made me think about those who have died at war and my own parents (God rest their souls) who brought me here on Easter Sunday in 1973.

St Margaret & St James, Long Marton (Memorial)

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The poignant moment at the War Memorial. Also the fastest Gloria in Christendom.
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