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2205: Ardchattan Kirk, Benderloch, Scotland
Ardchattan Kirk (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Maggie.
The church: Ardchattan Kirk, Benderloch, Scotland.
Denomination: Church of Scotland.
The building: The kirk is built of granite stone, on its own above a road beside Loch Etive. There is quite an ancient cemetery on its left as you see it. Inside, the windows are clear glass. There is a high minister pulpit for preaching and where the Bible is always placed, and where there is a cross. There is also a lower sermon place. For communion, there is a special, long dark wooden table, with long pews at each side, from the back to the front of the building. This is the only one I have ever seen, and apparently it is traditional. There is also a circled area above for people to sit and worship.
The church: There are two churches in the parish: Ardchattan Kirk and St Modan's Church, and they regularly hold joint services. They also hold services in the schools in the parish, and in the Ford Spence sheltered housing complex and the Lynn of Lorn care facility. They sponsor a Guild, Scouts and Guides, and holiday club for kids.
The neighbourhood: Benderloch is a village in Argyll and Bute, in the West Highlands, part of the Lynn of Lorn National Scenic Area. It is a lovely, beautiful area, with sand by the loch. All around there are farms and forests. There is one food shop, one camping shop, one restaurant in the village.
The cast: A lady known only as "Aileen" led the service, as I was told that the minister, the Revd Jeff McCormick was away.
The date & time: Sunday, 5 June 2011, 12.00pm.

What was the name of the service?
Service.

How full was the building?
About 30 people, all at one side, not totally full. The kirk is outside the village and so most came in cars.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
Three men at the door as I came to it welcomed me and shook my hand. One was wearing a kilt. Hymnbooks and Bibles were in the pews.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, the pew was comfortable. They were all wood.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was quiet, with no children there, only adults. The Bible was carried in and placed up on the pulpit at the beginning of the service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome all who have come to worship!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Holy Bible, New International Version; Church Hymnary, Junior Praise, Mission Praise.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ, played by a most excellent musician.

Did anything distract you?
I saw two people I'd met years ago camping further north, and I thought about that place.

Ardchattan Kirk (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The congregation sang well, worshipping, both traditional and modern worship songs.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Aileen led, prayed and preached well. She prayed that we might experience the love and care from God. God's compassion is stronger than ours. Thank you, God, for filling us with God's Spirit of love.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The reading was Acts 1 (Jesus ascends into heaven and Matthias is chosen to replace Judas). God wants us to be his witnesses. We shall receive that power. Our lives become caught up in God's life. We must not violate God's plans, but rather share God's love by telling people what we know of God and bringing them into the foundation of Living Water.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
Wonderful singing, feeling God's love and care, feeling filled with God's Spirit, thinking of people being helped.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I felt sad being aware of many people being in need who are not cared for – all over the world.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
All those present chatted with each other and with me almost instantly as the service finished and we left. They were very friendly. I was given a lift in a car back to Benderloch village – I didn't ask, it was just offered.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no tea or coffee. Everyone went outside in the sun and chatted.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – It is a beautiful old church, lovely people, excellent singers and organist, and good preacher. If I lived near, I would attend regularly.

Ardchattan Kirk (Graveyard)
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes. I felt really pleased to be reminded of God's love for me and others.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The central area of the kirk, with a long wooden place to have communion, with pews left and right alongside that. It is the only time I have seen that.
 
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