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|1582: St Silas,
Episcopal Church, Diocese
of Glasgow and Galloway.
Externally, the building looks traditionally Victorian. Internally,
the original furnishings have been stripped out, leaving a large
airy space filled with padded chairs arranged in what I would
describe as a roughly semicircular layout. The original sanctuary
at the east end is now used as a storage area. In front of the
stored items, and extending into the chancel, there is a large
central dais where the worship group sits, and a table that
serves as an altar. There is also a large projector screen hanging
from the roof.
A diverse congregation in age, colour and race! There were a
lot of folk who looked to be round about student age, and a
lot of families as well as older folk. It seems to be a very
lively and thriving congregation who run several house groups
and are involved in a number of outreach and social projects
St Silas is in the Woodlands area of the west end of Glasgow,
close to the university, with Kelvingrove Park just over the
road. The area is a mixture of traditional Glasgow tenement
housing plus shops, with plenty of cafés and bistros. The River
Kelvin runs through the area and there is a lovely riverside
path, much used by the locals for walking dogs.
The Revd David McCarthy, rector, led the service. The Revd Christian
Okeke was the preacher.
The date & time:
8 June 2008, 11.00am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
The church seemed pretty full, though there was a noticeable
emptying when the children went out. Even so, I would guess
there were about 150 or so there.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
There were a couple of chaps strategically positioned in the
porch to wish people good morning as they walked in. I was greeted
again when I was handed my service book and other bumph (required
reading). Finally, after I sat down, a lady asked if she could
pass by to greet the people in the row in front. Having done
that, she then enquired if it was my first time there. When
I said yes, she sat down next to me and engaged me in conversation.
We were then joined by her husband, who also talked to me for
Was your pew comfortable?
They were padded chairs with a rack on the back for books and
were reasonably comfortable.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
Noisy, confused, relaxed, seemingly disorganised – take
your pick! The service started 10 minutes late, and I was told
afterward that this was quite normal – the church operated
on St Silas time! I’m not sure that it would have been
possible to be quiet and prayerful before this service if you
were so minded, especially with a friendly, chatty neighbour!
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
"Morning everyone, morning. Welcome to St Silas."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
There was a book with the order of service for communion in
it. The Holy Bible, New International Version, was
in the pews, but the readings were also projected onto the screen.
There were also several different bits of paper with notices
and things on them.
What musical instruments
Keyboard, three guitars and drums.
Did anything distract you?
Ummm...where to begin? There was a very cute guy sitting two
rows in front of me (alas, too young). The guy slightly behind
me to my right seemed to spend the entire sermon with his sketch
pad. There were some parents wandering up and down the side
to the children’s area. Finally, I couldn't work out whether
the pillars were painted pink or lavender.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
This was snake-belly low church, happy but not clappy (though
I did see a few arms in the air and some kids waving flags during
the last song). Not a vestment or dog collar in sight! Modern
worship songs (don’t get me wrong, I like many of these).
I would have mistaken the rector for one of the congregation
if my neighbour hadn’t pointed him out and said, “That’s
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 The Revd Mr Okeke raised some good points but kept
repeating himself. Many times.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
One in a series on “Who is Jesus?” This week the
topic was Jesus the Living Temple. If we think of our relationship
with Jesus as the Living Temple, how should we worship? (1)
In spirit and in truth – if Jesus is the Living Temple,
we have no need of the buildings and formalised worship there.
The temple in Jerusalem – the rules and rituals associated
with it – had become a barrier preventing the Jews worshipping
in spirit and truth. Does the ritual and ceremony in our worship
today become a barrier that prevents us worshipping God? (2)
Our worship should be genuine. (3) We must make every effort
to be found in Jesus and not in the church (i.e. the building)
– when the end time comes there will be no temple or church
building (Revelation 21:22).
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
The hospitality shown to me at the start of the service...
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
... but it was quickly to evaporate, as will be seen. That, and
one moderately nasty moment at the start of one of the songs
during communion, where no one in the music group seemed to
know quite what they were doing. They made a couple of false
starts, which really didn’t sound good, and it took a
little while for them to get back on track.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Curiously, very little, which came as a surprise after what
happened before the service. My talkative neighbours went off
to talk to someone else. I hung around a bit and someone else
eventually did come to tell me about some of the house groups
and that it was a busy congregation.
How would you describe the after-service
I didn’t see any about, and there was no mention of coffee
either verbally or in the printed notices. The chap who talked
to me after the service said that lots of people tended to go
to lunch in groups. By the time the service finished, I was
definitely as much in need of food as caffeine.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 They were a lively and reasonably friendly bunch with
a lot going on and a lot to recommend them. If you’re
comfortable this style of worship, I’m sure you'd think
it a great place. However, it just didn’t light my candle.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Sadly, I can’t honestly say it did.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The challenge posed by the sermon: what barriers do we, or rather
I, put up which get in the way of me worshipping God in spirit
and in truth?
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