Mystery Worshipper: The Collar
Church: Partick South Parish Church
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Date of visit: Sunday, 27 August 2017, 11:00am
The congregation was formed in 1978 as a merger of three congregations and first met in an existing building. A new sanctuary replaced that building in 1988. The present complex dates from 2002 and is an addition to the 1988 space. It is a modernish A-frame structure of yellow brick with a central peak.
They describe themselves on their website as a laid-back, informal, family-oriented evangelical church. Each summer they put on "Scones on the Lawn" featuring family-oriented fun. They sponsor Girls Brigade and Brownies. They also run a tea room during the week. Each Sunday there is a prayer meeting, worship service, young church, and evening worship (except in July).
The Partick area of Glasgow sits on the north bank of the River Clyde. The University of Glasgow is nearby, which makes for a population of students, hipsters and intelligentsia. Interesting, the church is right off the main street, not down some side street, and very easy to get to.
The Revd Andy McIntyre, minister.
What was the name of the service?Morning Worship.
How full was the building?
About 75 per cent; you had space if you arrived late.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Delightful, friendly greeting from the mature book-giving lady. Made to feel very welcome. She also presented me with the in-colour service sheet.
Was your pew comfortable?
Very comfortable, modern upholstered, wooden seat. Comfy. I chose to sit in the back, on the left. Just enough to have people behind me, but not too far in.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
The people were chatting as if they knew one another. The minister spotted me and came to shake hands.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning, all, and welcome."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
The Holy Bible, New International Version (Hodder & Stoughton, 2011).
What musical instruments were played?
An electric piano.
Did anything distract you?
The seats at either side were chained off! Why can't I just come to a service and hide in the back? Yes, they always say, "We accept you as you are." So, accept that I merely want to sit, incognito, at the back or side.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
A mixture: a hymn-sandwich using a lone keyboard, but the songs were modern, with an energy behind them. Some of the lyrics were seen using the dreaded overhead projector.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
7 – A basic, standard evangelical interpretation of the day's readings. What you'd expect in the Church of Scotland.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
"Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:13-20) Faith only in the Christ!
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
There was a sense of community here. No matter that my tradition is different from theirs I could easily relate to my fellow worshipers.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing tangible, but still I felt that there were looks of suspicion aimed at me particularly at the end, when the minister said good-bye to me. Maybe my reputation preceded me.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Several people, including the minister, "came to my aid," inviting me to tea/coffee and to a future service.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Their website states, "You are invited to join us for tea, coffee and biscuits in our modern church hall." I was cordially invited.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
5 – It would not be my first choice, as this is not my tradition. However, I did relate well to what was going on and felt accepted – up until the end, that is.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, at least I was not embarrassed to be here! Though the congregation were mostly older than I am, I mostly felt at ease.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The sense of community here.