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West Parish, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Photo: Stanley Howe
West Parish, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
An austere looking stone structure with clock tower standing
in the town centre. The foundation stone was laid in 1879 and
the building was completed by 1880 at a cost of £3,000. I didnít
see inside the church, as the service I attended took place
in the hall. Photos found on various websites picture a blue
and pink walled interior with brown wooden pews and a brown
They encourage their members to join teams such as worship support,
pastoral care, outreaches, education, youth groups, etc., where
each member can best contribute to the life of the parish. They
appear especially committed to building relationships between
young people and older generations. One of the people I spoke
with told me that the different churches in Banchory work very
well together, and that she had never before experienced such
willingness among fellowships to collaborate.
Banchory lies about 20 miles west of Aberdeen on the River Dee.
It is the largest town in the area, and its fine High Street
and other facilities attract locals and visitors alike. Apparently
the town is growing rapidly, with new development at the Hill
of Banchory. This is a very picturesque area of Scotland. Nearby
is Royal Deeside, the site of Balmoral Castle. Just outside
the town are the Falls of Feugh, where I saw sea trout leaping
upstream. A natural example of dogged determination.
I don't know. I actually wondered if any of the people leading
the service were ordained clergy.
The date & time:
Sunday, 10 June 2007, 6.00pm.
What was the name of the service?
Praise and Worship.
How full was the building?
One-third full about 30 people.
Did anyone welcome you
A lady named Frances, or perhaps Pauline (sorry, I didn't take
very good notes), came to speak to me as soon as I walked in.
She asked me where I was from and said that this would be a
very informal gathering.
Was your pew comfortable?
Individual chairs were comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service
Some quiet conversation among the congregation as they arrived.
The worship band was practising and those running the service
were discussing the format.
What were the exact opening words of the
"Good Evening. Let me introduce the theme of this evening's
very informal service: 'There's no place like home.'"
What books did the congregation use during the
None. All the words for the worship songs and hymns were on
the overhead projector. Later on we were given small strips
of paper containing discussion starter questions.
What musical instruments were played?
Piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums.
Did anything distract you?
I kept wondering about how the various people who led the service
were associated with the church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship was fairly relaxed and very pleasant, yet snappy
enough to keep one's attention. There were inspirational songs,
readings from scripture, and a dramatic presentation followed
by discussion groups.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
There wasn't a sermon as such, but rather a dramatic presentation.
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
8 All participants appeared genuine and enthusiastic.
The presentation had apparently been put together rather swiftly,
but it came across very well. The people involved were obviously
used to working together.
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
There had been a reading earlier from Philippians 2 (Be not
selfish, but humble, as Christ humbled himself on the cross).
The presentation was entitled "Tom, Dick, Harry and Epaphroditus."
Tom asked someone in his fellowship to volunteer to visit Paul
in prison to look after his needs. Both Dick and Harry had excuses,
but Epaphroditus, although not in top form due to illness, willingly
offered to make the journey. Epaphroditus was not a person of
any distinction; he was merely a servant. Like Epaphroditus,
Christ Jesus made himself nothing, taking the very nature of
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
We sang Stuart Townend's (the British writer of contemporary
worship songs) version of "The Lord's my Shepherd"
with its lovely chorus of "I will trust in you alone."
The congregation managed the descant with no prior rehearsal.
It was indeed heavenly. I also enjoyed the post-presentation
discussion. Even though I was with people I had never met before,
our common belief and faith were immediately evident.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
It was a bit scary arriving at the venue of the meeting. For
a few moments I wasnít sure at all that I had come to the right
place. The entrance to the hall was at the end of a dark passageway,
complete with rather spooky shadows.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Having exhausted all conversation with Frances/Pauline beforehand
and in the post-sermon discussion breakouts, I must admit I
made a fairly hasty exit. I think the service was to be followed
by a youth meeting.
How would you describe the after-service
Tea and coffee in china cups, along with biscuits and juice
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 I certainly would give the church another visit. I
was impressed with the enthusiasm and sense of cooperation and
obvious international mission.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
Yes. I felt as though I had been encouraged and challenged to
serve our Father to the best of my ability. In any case, it
made me remember just how much we are loved.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
How people working within a church can make a difference wherever
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