St Paul’s is a small church fifteen minutes walk from my abode. The area is mostly what we used to call ‘working class,’ but many of the one time Council houses are now owned by the one time tenants. The area has its problems but it also had many good people working to make the most of where they dwell. The church which once had around seventy members saw a falling away, due sadly to the failings of the vicar. Recently he retired and was replaced by a young vicar who has immediately got the church up and running once again and the future now looks assured.
It is some time since I was last here but today I found the church warm and welcoming as it should be, with around sixty people there. Young and old, screaming kids and despairing parents, married folks singles and odds and sods also. I was the sod by the way! Anglicans are strange people to me in many ways, especially as I come from a straight forward evangelical background and the use of a sheet to follow, including responses, I find somewhat difficult. The singing of the ‘Grace’ at the end, accompanied by holding your neighbours hands caught me out somewhat to others mirth!
Two other factors were not as I would plan things, the sermon came from a woman called a ‘reader.’ whatever that is, and the thrusting young vicar was female! Female, a woman! Tsk! Who would have thunk it? The readers sermon was at least based on scripture, and this church is indeed a down to earth evangelical one, but not the kind of sermons I had become used to in days past. The vicar herself (also a woman!) did attempt to give some time to the kids but for me she talked like a, er woman, but did impress that Jesus sees us, not past us but looks right at us in love! The kids then thundered up the steps into a hall to scream away from the rest of us.
My one thought was that services ought to begin with a couple of worship songs to fix the mind in the God that is to be worshipped, spreading them out as occurred here did not give the right effect I thought. However that appeared to meet the needs of those attending as indeed did the vicars way of talking, she talked like a woman! Indeed she spoke to them as she may talk to people in the street or to her friends, and that made people comfortable and she appeared approachable. Her manner, the kids, the friendly people all made this a comfortable evangelical church rebuilding its congregation after a dry spell and in their own time bringing God into one small but needy area of the town. This is what attracted me to the church many years ago, the people being my kind of folks, and the potential is great here. I once delivered mail in the surrounding streets and always thought this church had a great position here. The people need to know Jesus and now they appear to have someone able to lead the church in that duty.
All in all I was pleased overall with my morning even if the church does not quite provide what I was hoping for. I can see me returning many times.