Monday, 5 June 2017

Actually Turning up at Church

So you've found out where a church is, and when to go.

My advice to you is to arrive 3 minutes before the service’s advertised time. If you arrive earlier you may unexpectedly sit in somebody else’s place – often a seat that they will claim was in the family since 1831. If you are lucky in these circumstances, you will simply be informed that you are in a forbidden location. If you’re unlucky, the pew’s owner will sit behind you, glaring at the back of your neck.  If, wondering why your neck feels so warm, you turn around – all you will see is a sweet old person listening intently to the sermon.

"Sit anywhere you like. Except Esme's pew, obviously......"

Another reason for not arriving early is that the Welcomer1 will talk to you. They may be nice – but you may also discover that they are more efficient at getting information out of you than the nice cop in a detective show. We’ll come back to Welcomers shortly. Though you might want to consider this previous description of what you might encounter.

If you turn up too late – ie after the time the service is meant to start – you’ll be forced to sit wherever you can find near the door. This will have its advantages – you can get back out again pretty quick.  But is it worth it for the laser-like glares you will receive from the person in the congregation who has already put on their holy face once, and now will have to take it off again.

If you turn up half way through by mistake, your best bet is to pretend that you're Eastern Orthodox. Walk in confidently, ignore the entire congregation, light a candle, walk out - and never, ever return. If you come back at the right time next week, you'll be giving the game away.

[1] Welcomer – person who stands by the door to prevent people running in and stealing the hymn books. Will typically give you a hymn book, the new trendy hymn book that came out 20 years ago, a printed sheet with the hymn too new for the trendy hymn book, a service sheet, a notice sheet and – if you are new  - the church magazine.

1 comment :

  1. Magnificent chancel arch at Ripon. Pity the columns are of different height on either side of the arch supports.


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