|594: St Columba's, Aberdeen|
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Mystery Worshipper: Highland Dancer.
The church: St Columba's, Aberdeen.
Denomination: Church of Scotland.
The building: The church is a modern building, which they share with the local Roman Catholic congregation, one church at each end. The inside is comfortable and bright.
The church: The motto of the church is: "At the heart of the community with the heart of Jesus." There was a wide range of ages in the Church, which is involved with University students. They have a youth worker in the local school. The parish seems outward looking.
The neighbourhood: The church building is virtually in the grounds of the local secondary school, in the industrial and residential suburb of Aberdeen. The location validates the motto above.
The cast: Rev. Louis Kinsey led and preached. Others took part with readings, prayers and children's bit.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
Pretty much every seat was taken.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, I received a warm welcome and handshake from two people at the door who also gave out news and song sheets.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable cushioned chairs, although legroom in our row was definitely economy class.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Most people arrived before the service started, and the atmosphere had a gossipy, summer holiday feeling.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning everyone, let's stand."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Bibles, which were available at the door, and a song sheet. All the bible readings and songs were projected onto a screen.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, organ, guitars (electric and acoustic).
Did anything distract you?
I was distracted by the minister wearing a clerical collar and dark suit. I'm not used to this but have nothing against the practice. It's just that he was in stark contrast to the casual appearance of the musicians and everyone else who took part in the service. The formality also didn't seem to fit with the ministers open and relaxed approach to the congregation. I wondered why.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
It was a mixture of traditional and modern songs but generally tending towards the happy clappy. There was a loud but solitary "Oh!" from the minister at the end of "Jesus put this song into our hearts".
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 He had one simple point and made it clearly. He related to the local situation, shared his own experiences and even got a few laughs.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
It was titled "Why do I make so many mistakes? The importance of asking for God's advice." It was based on a story in Joshua 9:1-27 where Joshua and the people did not consult the Lord before taking action. Often human judgement is not enough although we usually forget this when making decisions.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
When it was said that God is not interested in maintenance but blesses when the church is moving forward and outward.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
A comment made during the kids' talk about rich people who have satellite navigation in their cars. I realised uncomfortably how far I had come from the radical, anti-materialistic, friend of the poor disciple that I once was. (However, the satellite navigation system did get me to St Columba's on time!)
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The fire door had been opened for cooling purposes on this rare warm day, so I hung around there with my coffee and smiled at a few people. Unfortunately no one spoke to me; maybe they were visitors too?
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Coffee (instant), tea or orange juice. Cups and saucers with suitable biscuit accompaniment.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 I had the impression of a church that is serious about being involved in the community. I was both challenged and encouraged. Junior Mystery Worshippers report that the summer Sunday school is also to be recommended.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The simple message that that to make good decisions we should consult God.