Sunday. Church Day. Our group fanned out over the city and experienced a variety of places and styles of worship. Luanne and I were off to St James Piccadilly. St James is a rather progressive congregation in the center of London. As they don’t really have people who live near the church [apart from the homeless, which are present at the church], they attract people from around London as well as from around the world. We ran into a couple from North Carolina on their fourth visit to St James, a guy from California visiting his mother, two from Indiana, someone from Ohio [in our class] and a Minnesotan. One of the priests, a friend, is from California. There were dogs [a lab and a miniature dachshund] as well as a really good sermon. At St James, communion is celebrated with the congregation gathered around the altar [this morning there were about 130 of us, plus dogs].
Scott was off to Holy Trinity Sloane Square. Sloane Square is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world [and home to the annual Chelsea Flower Show] and Holy Trinity is a very high - church, very liturgical sort of place that seeks to engage this very interesting neighborhood. Great worship, a really good choir [their paid, by the way] and a big heart illustrate the work of Holy Trinity. Holy Trinity will also experience international visitors on a regular basis given its work and location.
Kierstin was at St Peter’s in Bethnal Green for two liturgies. The first was a more formal, traditional style worship with the second an informal, slightly chaotic family worship time. Bethnal Green is a working-class neighborhood that is now filled up with a whole bunch of different people: industrial workers, unemployed, hipsters, young families and even aged folks. Given where it is, international folks are a bit rare at St Peter’s, but visitors from the neighborhood are not.
After lunch, our group gathered for Evening Prayer at Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is that ancient church where the kings and queens of England are crowned, married and sometimes buried – so it’s chocked full of history. The church was full for evening prayer and the choir was beautiful, although the sermon was a wee bit tedious…
After dinner, we were off to Holy Trinity Brompton. Holy Trinity Brompton [HTB] has had a huge influence on church life in London. It’s one of the largest churches in England and has led the way on outreach and evangelism. They are the “mother-ship,” as it may, for the Alpha course, an introduction to Christianity for non-Christians. Their worship is very contemporary, very lively and very Spirit-oriented.
In all, we spent at least 4 hours in church! We’re excited to hear from the people at the places we visited and reflect on what we saw today.
We hope you had a great Sunday! We all missed being with you.