Barnes Methodist Church

History

The church was built in 1906. What was originally an upstairs gallery was converted into a new area for worship in 2005, with the ground floor transformed into halls and meeting rooms which are available for hire and used for community events.

Appearance

The church is, to quote their website, “a fine example of Edwardian chapel architecture”. The outside of the building is in red brick, and the upper floor room (in which the service is held – see above) has plain white walls, with several memorial plaques at the back. An impressive display of organ pipes is at the front of the room, in front of which are some tables, the main one of which has a cross and a candle on, and a simple lectern. In the front right corner of the room is a small font, and in the front left corner a piano. A crèche area is to the right of the area in which the congregation is seated, and behind them some tables with chairs around them for when refreshments are served after the service. The room was brightly lit, with sunlight streaming through the windows, which had simple stained-glass patterns on them.

Clergy

Although the church has a minister, according to its website she was away on maternity leave. Although another minister had been appointed to fill in for some of the services, the service which I visited was led by two female laypersons, referred to as worship leaders.

Congregation

The congregation numbered just under 30, a significant number of whom were elderly, but also including a few who were probably in their 30s and younger, and five young children who were in the crèche. There were slightly more females than males, and I can only recall seeing one person of an ethnic minority. I spoke to several members of the congregation during (see below) and after the service, and they all seemed very friendly.

Service

The service started with one of the worship leaders giving some notices, as well as noting that the service would be rather more informal than usual – not what I was hoping to hear, as I aim to capture an accurate reflection of what the services are usually like at each church I visit. She then lit the candle on the table at the front to symbolise the presence of Christ in their worship, which I thought was a lovely touch.

After prayers and a hymn (which, it must be said, many members of the congregation seemed to barely mumble) was a talk addressed to the children on the subject of God’s love – they were given large paper hearts to decorate in the crèche, and smaller paper hearts were handed out to the congregation with the suggestion they be given to loved ones. After a more rousing hymn (with actions) came prayers of confession, followed by Psalm 121. After this came the first Bible reading (2 Timothy 3:14 & 4:5) and another prayer.

After this, the worship leaders asked the congregation to talk in small groups about people who had guided them in becoming or living as Christians, some of whom then shared their stories with the rest of the congregation. After another hymn and second Bible reading (Luke 18:1-8), there followed another “group discussion”, this time on interpreting the reading just heard. After this came the offering, the Lord’s Prayer, and a final hymn before the dismissal.

Afterwards

Tea, coffee and biscuits were served at the back of the church after the service. Some fruit squash was available on request, and I also saw a few slices of cake, although wasn’t sure if this was a regular component of the post-service refreshment or if it was there in celebration of somebody’s birthday.

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