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  1388: Lugarno Peakhurst Uniting, Lugarno, New South Wales, Australia

Lugarno Peakhurst Uniting, Lugarno, New South Wales, Australia

Mystery Worshipper: Even Adam.
The church:Lugarno Peakhurst Uniting, Lugarno, New South Wales, Australia.
Denomination: Uniting Church of Australia.
The building: An informal unobtrusive structure lurking amongst the trees, with a bright sanctuary (complete with a dress cicle) and a separate hall used for Sunday school.
The church: The church reflects the environment: an upper middle class Anglo area of Sydney, with an aging population. They have two services each Sunday: a family morning service and an evening youth service at which "all are welcome from young to young at heart."
The neighbourhood: Lugarno is a suburb of Sydney. Originally called George's River, the name Lugarno began to be applied to the area in the 1920s, after the Swiss town of Lugano (its spelling changed to match the Australian accent), the view from which is somewhat like the view from George's River but on a much larger scale. The church has a small shopping centre opposite, and the church sign is easily visible to shoppers and bus travellers. This is an affluent part of Sydney.
The cast: The service was led by someone named Laurie. The minister, the Rev. Dr Peter Robinson, was on holiday. The sermon was preached by a visitor from the Gideon Society, the folks who place Bibles in hotel rooms.
The date & time: 7 January 2007, 9.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Morning worship service.

How full was the building?
Mostly full, about 100 people. This was encouraging, as many folk take their holiday break during January in Australia.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were welcomed with a handshake and bulletin, and then left to our own devices. The lady who sat next to us gave us an obligatory smile, then proceeded to chat with a friend sitting in the row in front of us.

Was your pew comfortable?
Nice padded individual green chairs. Very comfortable indeed.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The atmosphere was friendly with friend greeting friends. The pre-service fellowship excluded us, as visitors, and for a short time we wondered about the quality of our deodorant.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to our worship service this morning."

What books did the congregation use during the service?
There were no song books, hymn books or pew Bibles. All words to songs were on PowerPoint. This works well for tall people.

What musical instruments were played?
Only a piano – but the ivories were capably tickled. We spotted drums hiding in the corner, and assumed the youth service has a band.

Did anything distract you?
Being short, I usually sit toward the front. Somehow, the tall people always choose to sit in even closer... right in front of me. A tall gent blocked my view of much of the stage area, and his loud floral shirt was certainly a distraction.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The style could best be described as mellow but joyful. There was quite a bit of laughter. The songs chosen were from the 70s and 80s. (I do wonder why Christians often look so glum while singing lyrics full of joy.)

Exactly how long was the sermon?
17 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – The minister was away on his summer holiday. The gentleman from the Gideon Society filled his talk with interesting illustrations. But why, oh why, was he wearing a tie on such a hot day?

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
He spoke of the work of the Gideons placing Bibles in schools, prisons, hospitals and hotels, and showed us the many types of Bibles and testaments. He encouraged us to support the work of Gideons prayerfully and financially. He also asked us to pray for a change of heart at a local college where the Gideons had been banned from handing out testaments outside the gates.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The atmosphere of joy in the church. It's refreshing to hear so much laughter during a service. The highlight was a lady named Beryl, who announced an upcoming trip to the well named Victoria Building (a Byzantine-style shopping complex dating from 1898) and dressed herself in Victorian clothing.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
If hell is hot, this church, like most Australian churches in summer, gives a preview to the sinners. It is hard to relax when the temperature approaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Small portable fans do not do the job. Aussie churches need air conditioners!

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We really enjoyed the post service cuppa, held in the foyer immediately behind the sanctuary. In contrast to the rather cool greeting we received on arrival, we were drawn into the fold. Special thanks are due to the "golden oldies" who took time for a chat: Pamela, Jean, Elizabeth, Dorothy, Margaret and Laurie. Honourable mention to young Jason in the kitchen. He makes an excellent cuppa.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea in white cups, with cream biscuits from the popular supermarket chain Woolies. We also spotted a couple of sad chocolate marshmallow biscuits, melting in the heat.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I'm sure this church is like a second family to those who attend regularly.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes it did. We left with a sense of having been in the presence of people who love God.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The gentle smiles and friendliness of the folk during morning tea. Plus, we now know that Gideon Bibles come in different colours.
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