But now I have visited the church that I once defended -- even if in an ever so small and virtual way. It is and ancient space (the building goes back to the 13th Century), and it is a city space. I get it.
Dr Laurel and I went to three meetings yesterday: 10.30AM, 4PM and 6PM. And in between, we had lunch with the Fishlock family: Greet peeps, and lovely kids. Chris is a curate at St Helen's -- about my age. I'll tell you more about him later in the week.
I heard three sermons from three different preachers: from William Taylor (Rector), Chris Fishlock (Curate) and Andrew Sachs (Curate). Three clear and insightful messages. A touch of humour in each. Each of them actually set up an issue by asking a question. And then they spoke to the issue, answering from the Scriptures. In other words, not a dud sermon in the day! :)
The most new thing that happened was that there were five adult baptisms. Five adults changing their mind about God. Five adults repenting before Jesus.
I was expecting the usual Anglican sprinke thing. But wooden boards were opened up before us, revealing a massive Baptismal pool in the floor of the church. I love it! Apparently it was Dick Lucas' idea after the IRA bombed nearby in the 1990s, leaving room for creative refurbishment of the ancient space.
Three of the five candidates for Baptism spoke movingly of their conversion. They spoke about what attracted them to Jesus. And each got fully dunked. Lots of joy and laughter and fun. And meaning.
I brought two church two people who are getting married at St Philip's next March. They live in London, so I brought them to church (naturally). I think that they may have been a little startled by it all -- there were about 400/500 young people in the room. And with this Baptism, it was hard not to be confronted by the authenticity of their faith.
One other thing I noticed: the music was joyful. And there didn't appear to be any tiredness; nor cynicism, which is something I see in some Australian churches from time to time. But who can tell from one meeting, right?
I also noticed three specific things that are relelvant for St Philips as a City Church. These I'll share tomorrow.