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  1004: Strandtown Baptist, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Read this report | Other comments

18 July 2008

I recently read your posting on Strandtown Baptist, Belfast. I was looking up an old seminary buddy online and found his name here. Here's the description in your report:

"The associate pastor was a young, squeaky-clean, close-shaven guy with a slightly American accent. I couldn't decide if he had been to the USA or was just putting it on. He had probably been to Bible college recently, as he knew his Old Testament pretty well. His points were clearly displayed on the PowerPoint screen as he came to them. They were a bit repetitive, but maybe that was deliberate in order to bang them home!"

Jim's accent might come off a bit "American" because he is an American, born and raised in Florida. He moved to Ireland in 1999.

If I heard a guy preach here in the States with an Irish accent, and I suggested he might be "putting it on," it would very clear that I was essentially calling him an ass – no one but a pretentious ass would fake an accent, especially when preaching.

Matt Forster

24 May 2005

Someone recently pointed me in the direction of your site and I have really enjoyed most of what I have seen.

The one area which causes me a certain amount of distaste is the Mystery Worshipper section. I am a member of Strandtown Baptist Church, who are the subject of review 1004. The article, or in fact an edited version of the article on the site, appeared in the East Belfast Observer magazine a few months ago. Your site contains a fuller version of this review. It is interesting that the edited version seemed to omit a lot of the positive aspects, but I expect that this is beyond your control.

Anyway, my reason for emailing you is because I think it is inconsistent (the person feels isolated, but yet it appears that five people spoke to her or engaged her in conversation) and inaccurate. I also believe that the article is racist, classist and also includes a slur on the disabled. The last para says: "It occurred to me that the choice of subject for the sermon, "Success," might have something to do with that fact that the congregation were a very middle-class, white, able-bodied group of people living in a quiet, very middle-class neighbourhood."

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure what Sister Act expected in East Belfast. Hands up – probably everyone there was "white". How can Sister Act tell what "class" people are? Surely this is "judging by appearances" and therefore discriminatory? What does being "able bodied" have to do with anything? We have many people in our congregation who are disabled, and so the comment is inaccurate.

Sister Act also surmises the reason why a sermon was preached without actually attempting to engage the preacher and ask why. Instead, it appears she shook his hand and ran away. Perhaps if she asked, she would found that this passage was what the Lord had laid on the preacher's heart through that week. 

Finally, I believe the "personal slurs" contained in the article are insulting, patronising and offensive. Once again, if Sister Act had taken time to speak to the preacher or anyone else in the place, she would have discovered that the American accent was not "put on" as a result of a recent trip to the USA but that Jim Cheshire is in fact American. Instead his race is turned into an attack, basically accusing him of being a fraud in relation to his manner of speech.

Do me a favour and fire this page into the recycle bin.

Geoff Bailie
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