|1127: Broughty Ferry Baptist, Tayside, Scotland|
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|Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: Broughty Ferry Baptist, Tayside, Scotland.
Denomination: Baptist Union of Scotland.
The building: An old grey stone listed building, just by the road, with a hall at the back and a stretch of lawn at one side. Inside is bright, with cream and pink walls, the original plain glass windows, and pumpkin-shaped lights. Beautiful artistic banners hang in various places. The area above the platform where the communion table sits is octagonal.
The church: They are what seems to be a very inclusive community, a mixture of social classes and ethnic groups, all ages. They conduct programmes throughout the town, not just within the church, and are involved in caring for groups and individuals who need help!
The neighborhood: Tayside is a pretty town on the Tay Estuary, featuring old stone houses, quaint railway gates, crossings, tunnels and bridges, and a long, wonderful, pure sandy beach where both locals and tourists swim and water-ski. There is a lifeboat station, a harbour, and a medieval castle turned into a museum where you can learn about the local whaling and fishing industries. When we walked the few yards from the church down to the sea, we saw a flock of at least fifty swans.
The cast: The pastor, the Rev. Kenneth W. Jefferson.
|What was the name of the service?
Morning worship with holy communion.
How full was the building?
Overflowing, packed. Some people were standing at the back and it looked as if we wouldn't be able to find anywhere to sit, but others squeezed and moved around to give us space. There must have been more than 100. There were loads of children and teenagers. I did notice that I was one of the few women wearing earrings, in violation of an old traditional Scots Protestant taboo.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were welcomed several times at both the outside door and the inner door, by the people standing at the back and by the ones who made space for us. They all smiled and spoke in a really friendly way.
Was your pew comfortable?
They were traditional, light wooden pews with cushions. We were comfortable, even though a bit squashed.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
It was buzzy and friendly, with everyone settling in and having quiet conversations with their neighbours or greeting each other as they came in.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Good morning! Welcome!"
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Everyone brought their own Bibles, which seemed to be all different versions. We were given a service sheet. The songs were on the overhead projector.
What musical instruments were played?
A praise band featuring guitars, wind instruments and drums, as well as vocalists.
Did anything distract you?
The banners kept attracting my attention. I tried to imagine what it would be like to sew at least one myself. One featured a sea motif and a biblical reference to Jesus.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Very happy and somewhat "folky" with lots of well-played music. The Scots seem to have the gift of music in their blood. Everyone in the congregation instinctively took part in the service with their whole body. They sang the meaning of the words as well as the music and were actively worshipping, responding to God.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – Pastor Jefferson spoke about living as a Christian. He seemed very much aware that Christians are part of the whole world. Other sermons I have heard have sounded less aware of that.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Christian faith is a demonstration of freedom from sin, death and fear. Christians have been found guilty, but the penalty has been paid and we are set free, not tagged. God never sends any of his servants on a fool's errand. When God calls, do it now! William Booth said, "God gives the mission and God gives the power." Alongside the gentleness of Jesus is always the granite of the Master who set his face like flint to go to Jerusalem. This is relevant to us because peer pressure can make us too open-minded, and that can sabotage our lives. Comunication, not confrontation, is what the church needs – not rivalry, which causes rupture. Stand firm in the liberty God gives us.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The way we were welcomed so genuinely. Everyone seemed so pleased to see us. This went on all though the service and in the joy manifested in communion.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Much as I enjoyed the real community, I wondered if, being an introvert, I could survive all the interaction. My companion was wallowing in it, but I just wanted to go down to the beach, away from the crowd.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We didn't have a chance to hang around at all. We were taken through to the hall by the people who had already decided they were our friends, and were introduced to loads of others. Some time later in our holiday, we met some of these same people, who instantly recognised us, chatted with us again, and asked how we were doing.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
Hot coffee, tea and nice cold juice, all in plastic cups. Children and adults alike all mingled and socialised together. People were coming round to offer us biscuits. It was very busy. Were were told they have a problem with wanting to have more space, but everything is listed and so they can't get planning permission.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I really liked the people, the atmosphere, the involvement in the community, and the diversity of everything that this church is involved in. The banner-making group and the hill-walking group seem as important as the services themselves.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, yes, yes. There was so much joy, and yet I realised how tough it is to be a Christian.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The friendliness of the congregation and the great pumpkin lights.