Yesterday I did the whole going to a new church thing. Mr F had googled to find the nearest C of E before we moved, but various things like Greenbelt, a Hen Night and the Church website not actually having directions to the church on it had delayed us somewhat. Mr F was still a bit under the weather, so I left him in bed and ventured out alone.
The church is about 10 minutes walk from the house – perfect. I hate driving to church, probably because I always walked when I was younger. I think driving feels like cheating and you don’t get the awareness of what is happening along the route, or meet people. It is a converted church hall, the original church having been demolished when they discovered that someone forgot to put any foundations in!
The building is right on the main road, with quite an obvious entrance – always good. There was a steady trickle of people heading towards it, so I went in.
The welcomers handed me a booklet and notice sheet and then one of them rather sheepishly asked me if I was new, (probably expecting me to say ‘no, I’ve been coming here for 3 years now’) to which I admitted that yes, I was new.
‘Ooh, let me see if I can find you a young person to sit by’. Scanning the congregation did not reveal many young people so she took me over to someone who she thought I might like instead. Trouble was, this was three rows from the front and the two rows in front were full of boys. As soon as the Sunday school went out I was going to be on the front row. Now I am not a front row person, at least not on my first visit to a church.
The lady I had been taken to sit by was, indeed, lovely and very welcoming, explaining a bit about the church and what sort of community it was. She was worrying that there weren’t many small children or twenty-somethings in the church. By this point, the church was pretty much full, with half of it taken up with youth. The church I was at last would have loved to have that many kids around. I don’t think they have much to worry about in that respect.
The biggest plus point for the church was that I knew every single one of the hymns/songs. At my last church, which I was at for about 3 and a half years, I don’t think I ever went to a service where I knew all the hymns (possible exception being our wedding).
The service got under way, the kids left and we were, as I thought, left on the front row, but also with three empty rows behind us. No problem, I had someone to sit with. Oh, gesticulation from the corridor implied that they were missing a leader for one of the groups. My friend apologised and said she had to go and help. Help! Now I was really left on my own.
Once I got over the rather goldfish bowl feeling, it wasn’t too bad at all. People came and said hello during the peace, so I wasn’t left out on a limb and they had someone in charge of telling people when to go up for Communion so that worry was assuaged.
Coffee was fairtrade, there was a fairtrade stall as well and people were very friendly, we were even given a dinner invitation for a few weeks hence. All in all, a lovely church, with lovely people. Much lower down the candle than I am used to, but I think that will be good for me. They are in a group with some more traditional churches, so I can always head over there if I need some more ritual.
Incidentally, I had to walk past a Quaker Meeting House, a Baptist, a Methodist and a Buddhist centre. I wonder what ecumenism is like here.