The first thing you should notice as you enter St. Robert’s Roman Catholic Church is the CENTRAL AISLE that leads your gaze right down to the ALTAR and the CRUCIFIX at the end. The ALTAR is a specially blessed stone table and is traditionally the seat of God in the church. This is based on Old Testament laws about the ARK OF THE COVENANT in the first Jewish temple. This is very different to the Reformed Church and the Methodist Church that you saw today. To Roman Catholics the focus is on the ALTAR as this is where MASS (EUCHARIST) takes place. For Catholics MASS is a SACRAMENT and is one of the most important things that happens in worship. The CRUCIFIX is a cross that has Jesus still on it. It is important in the Roman Catholic Church as thier focus is really on Jesus and the Power of God working through Jesus and through the Priest in the Church today. They do not, like Methodists and Reformed Christians, focus so much on accessing God through the Bible as they believe in APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION; that is the power of God passed on to the priest today to allow them to access God.
This is the view from the lectern at West Park United Reformed Church. The focus in the Reformed Church is on the Bible, not on the Mass or eucharist, as it is in the Catholic Church. For the Reformed Church it is far more important that you spend time reading and interpretting the Bible.
The MINISTER can help you do this by giving a sermon from the PULPIT which stand right in the middle at the front of the church. Notice that this is different to the Roman Catholic church where there was no pulpit. For the Reformed Church the centre of worship is the word of God revealed in the Bible, not the power of the priest.
You might remember that they also shared communion together by handing around small glasses of grape juice to drink together rather than taking COMMUNION (Eucharist) from the priest.
The purpose of the visit is to look at different church and notice the differences. You should then be able to link back to the beliefs of these different denominations to explain those differences. That would be LEVEL 6 in R.S.
Notice in the Methodist Church that the whole front is dominated by the ORGAN. Music is very important to worship in Methodism. Most of their beliefs are expressed in their hymns.
You should also notice the place of the PULPIT (behind the banner in the middle) right at the front and centre of the church.
This is not like the Catholic Church where the focus was on the ALTAR. Here there is no ‘altar’ just a COMMUNION TABLE instead. This is because, for Methodists, the focus of worhip is on reading and understanding the Bible. They don’t believe in APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION like the Catholics do. For them any access to God will come through the Bible and prayer.
Notice also the PLAIN CROSS that focusses not on the sacrifice of Jesus so much as on his RESURRECTION (being brought back to life) and the promise that gives to Christians today.
The small wooden item right in the foreground is their FONT. If you remember int he Roman Catholic Church this was a great big stone affair near the front door with a decorative wooden cover. Here it is plain and portable. This might tell you something else about the Methodists attitude to LITURGY (set ways of doing things in worship).