After last week's excursion to the countryside outside East Dereham, this week's church visitation took me to the bustling metropolis of Norwich and what some enthusiastic person called 'a new way of doing church.' This is The Cess-Pool Church. Housed in a modern (well, pretend 1970s) building on the outskirts of the city, The Cess-Pool Church, Pastor Martin Maren Martins, advertises itself as a new and inclusive church where all are welcome, from stockbrokers to tramps. Being located close to the suburb of Drayton, where most people earn lots of money, the only tramp there is one they had to hire to stick around and drink Old Mill Vodka/White Lightning in the foyer, make strange noises and generally disconcert people.
He did his job pretty well, until last Sunday, when he jumped out at Lady Arcos and yelled 'boo!' He is currently in intensive care. Of course, he wasn't to know that the little lady is a bit jumpy right now, on account of the Mafia having a contract out on her. But it's to late now, and I'm sure he won;t miss his left arm for long.
The service began with someone ringing a hand-bell until the handle fell off. Then someone else lit a candle and invited us all to pray out loud. I hadn't noticed the prayer-sheet, so I just prayed as normal and got glared at.
There is no pulpit, only a low platform, which means that short people seated at the back can't see the minister. And there's no microphone, so we couldn't hear the opening lines. I called on them to speak up. And got glared at.
We were handed stones. I asked who we were going to stone. And got glared at again. Apparently, we were supposed to place them at the front after the prayers. Sadly, there were oo many, and the men handing in the collection plates fell over them. We sang a hymn, then a music group sang something, or pretended to.
There was no sermon, instead, we were invited to participate in a 'conversation.' Which was when we were put out for suggesting someone was wrong. We'll be back next week.