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63: St Ternan's Episcopal Church, Banchory, Scotland
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St Ternan Banchory
Mystery Worshipper: Bookworm (and accomplice).
The church: St Ternan's Episcopal Church, Banchory, Scotland.
Denomination: Scottish Episcopal.
The building: St Ternan's is a beautiful Gothic chapel with intricate stained glass windows and an altar decked in purple with gold crosses and candles atop it.
The neighbourhood: Banchory is in Royal Deeside, where Burberry and Barbour-wearing Range Rover owners hobnob with royalty. The shops near the church sell expensive clothes and even more expensive china figurines.
The cast: Rev Ross Royden.
What was the name of the service?

How full was the building?
Very – every Episcopalian in Banchory must have been there.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
There were two stewards on the door. They smiled, said hello and presented me and my partner-in-crime with a hymn book and a host of leaflets. They seemed genuinely friendly.

Was your pew comfortable?
Old-fashioned wooden type, with a long cushion, and individually embroidered kneelers.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The church seemed to fill up from the upper-age people downwards. First there were oldies chatting an catching up on gossip, then families and kids giggling and laughing. Generally happy and relaxed.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
'Welcome to the eucharist service of Banchory St Ternan's. Good to see you all here.'

What books did the congregation use during the service?
'Scottish Liturgy of the Episcopal Church', 'English Hymnal', and a collect sheet with readings for the service.

What musical instruments were played?
Pipe organ and choir.

Did anything distract you?
I got quite carried away studying the stained glass windows and counting the amount of candles!

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Traditional Anglican worship. The choir (all adults) were particularly tuneful.

St Ternan Banchory

Exactly how long was the sermon?
14 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8. Ross was relevant, up to date and had the captivating air of an enthusiastic preacher.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
We are made up of body, soul and spirit, called to express the spiritual realm, which is best achieved by following Christ.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The sun streaming through the stained glass windows showing Scottish and other saints, and best of all, a window based on the Holman Hunt painting, 'The Light of the World'. It was peaceful in a deep way.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
There was such a sense of peace and light in the church that nothing could possibly spoil it.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
There was tea in the hall, so we waited until most folk went out and then went up to Ross and scared him half to death... he knows about the Mystery Worshipper and rumbled why I was there. He introduced us to everyone as 'the spies'. This congregation is really friendly and open and I'm sure other visitors would feel the same.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Tea, excellent coffee and lots of lovely biscuits.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7. If I wasn't already a Presbyterian, I'd consider crossing the divide for this particular place.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, definitely. And I was glad to know that God accepts people into his fold whoever they are... whether they're wearing Barbour jackets or old duffle coats.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The children going forward for a blessing after communion. It reminded me of Jesus telling the disciples to let the children come to him.

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