Memories from London

2014. május 15., csütörtök

A group from the university chaplaincy in Szeged took a trip to London at the beginning of April in order to start a conversation with the All Souls university congregation about establishing a long term partnership between the two churches. The purpose of the trip was to study the congregational models in London, learn good practices and make new connections. The following is a report of their experience in London from a member of the Szeged group.

(4th to 7th of April 2014.) 

On the 4th of April, at Friday morning fifteen people departed from the Debrecen Airport, heading to the London Luton Airport. Our flight was smooth, some of us were flying for the first time, so it was a special experience. We arrived in London in the afternoon, put down our luggage and went to sightseeing.

London has many places worth seeing, so on Saturday we also visited famous buildings and squares. Before noon we walked together, then we split up in small groups of 2-3 people. Along the way, on Friday and on Saturday too, we talked a lot, also we discussed about our church, because finally we had time to talk about these things. On Saturday evening, when we were all together again, we went in a coffee shop and chatted about the day's events.

On Sunday morning some of us took part in the Holy Communion at the Westminster Abbey at 8 AM. This was a simple, traditional service, they paid special attention to escort us in the front rows because there were only a few people (around thirty). This way they avoided tourists who just wanted to take a quick look inside for free. The service was full of prayers, with deep message and so it was a perfect start for our day.

With the other members of our group we met at the All Souls Church. Here some of us visited the service for children and collected a lot of ideas – how to get through the difference between the ages and also some new games. Most of us took part in the “adult” part of the family service. The music was classical with melodies easy to learn and not too complicated lyrics which were connected with the day's theme. Before the sermon several people said greeting speech, prayer, and advertised the upcoming events. In the greeting speech the speaker put questions which anyone could freely answer loudly and also we had the opportunity to talk shortly with our neighbours. The subject was “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29) which was in strong relation with the sermon's subject. The “Amen” was followed only by a short prayer and one song, after that we were invited to tea, coffee and chat about the subject. Half an hour later we were requested to leave so they could prepare for the next service – this was usual in all the churches we visited that day.

After lunch we were heading to the afternoon service of the Hillsong London Church. Even the location is outstanding: it takes place in the Dominion theatre, where the “We Will Rock You” musical is played, and so a huge, golden Freddie Mercury statue is in front of it. Inside there was a huge crowd, finally we took seat upstairs. Before the beginning of the service they played a video with some background music on a big canvas, then the drummer and guitar player entered and started playing the background music. We nearly didn't notice them, but after that the singers and the other members of the band entered like a hurricane and started the first song, everyone stood up with great enthusiasm. After a few songs advertisements followed in form of videos, and also prayer themes were flashed. The music never stopped except for the sermon. After the sermon people could raise their hands if they wanted to follow Jesus for the first time and so they prayed to Him together. More than one thousand people were in the theatre, mostly under thirty years old.

From the Hillsong Church we travelled to the afternoon service of the Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) Church. Here we found mostly young people between 16 and 25 years old. The building is from the 19th century, but inside reflectors, thick and soft carpet, and many pillows welcomed us. We also saw some chairs put away, but for this service only pillows were available. It was surprising that the stage was in the middle of the church and the people sit around it in a circle form. For a better view many televisions showed the live events of the stage on the walls. Before the beginning we sang worship songs for half an hour, and without interrupt the service began, we continued singing. The advertisements were presented in the form of “HTB News”, a short video. After the service we visited the book shop in the main building of the HTB Church. The Alpha Course came from this Church and so we could see and buy useful books and CDs for our Alpha Course in Szeged.

We closed the Sunday with having dinner together and every one of us shared his or her opinion about the churches visited. These opinions were noted and we will discuss it while planning the following semester of our church, deciding what we keep from them and what we want to avoid.

On Monday we travelled back in two groups, so there was less opportunity to talk with each other.

Summing it up, all of us came back filled with new experiences. We were glad to see so many young Christian people and to imagine that we can help the growth of the Reformed University Chaplaincy in Szeged and the whole Reformed Church in Hungary. We can do this by telling them the Gospel in a youthful, attractive mode, still remaining strictly close to the principle of Sola Scriptura.


Zsófia Szatmári

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