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|2097: St Stephen's,
Dalmuir, Clydebank, Scotland
Stephen's, Dalmuir, Clydebank, Scotland.
It is quite a modern building from a Catholic perspective, having
been built in 1958 replacing the old church, which was destroyed
in the blitz on Clydebank by over 1,000 Nazi bombers in 1941.
There are pews that would probably accommodate 300 at a push
with room around the outside for processions. There is an interesting
wooden sculpture above the altar and some stained glass windows
on the north face of the church, although the other windows
are plain. The ceiling is quite high so it had a spacious feel,
especially with its whitewashed walls. There are no signs outside
indicating the times of services or other events during the
The church offers a variety of activities, from a St Vincent
de Paul Society to help the needy to a charismatic prayer group.
A nearby historically significant church, Our Lady of Loretto,
was demolished in 2007 amid cries of "cultural vandalism",
and so most of the remnants of that congregation have joined
Clydebank is situated on the north bank of the River Clyde a
short distance west of Glasgow. The bombing in Clydebank during
World War II, which left 35,000 people homeless in a three-day
period, was said to be the worst bomb damage per head of the
population in the British Isles. The town was known for its
ship building and its Singer sewing machine factory, neither
of which now exists. The church is situated close to one of
the nicer parts of the town, with the park and golf course nearby,
although it is easily also accessible for those living in the
The Revd Aidan Martin is the parish priest although I cannot
confirm that it was he who led the service. Two laypersons,
neither of whom was introduced, gave the readings and led the
The date & time:
Sunday, 14 November 2010, 10.00am.
What was the name of the
How full was the building?
There were probably around 150 people there, about half full.
Did anyone welcome you
A woman smiled at us as we entered, but the man in the foyer
was folding the service sheets and didn't look up. We picked
up a sheet and entered, but it took a while for us to find a
seat as all the people were sitting at the ends of the pews
and toward the back. We had to ask someone to move along. Then
we realised that the songbooks were not placed on the pews and
had to ask someone where they were located so that we could
follow the service properly.
Was your pew comfortable?
It was fine, if a little narrow. I am not the smallest person
in the world, and seats that were built in the past tend to
be a bit restrictive.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
It felt quiet, although with the hassle of getting there a little
late and the struggle to sit down as the service was starting,
I don't feel totally at liberty to comment on it.
What were the exact opening
words of the service?
Sorry, we missed them, due to our late arrival and subsequent
search for seats.
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Hymns Old and New.
What musical instruments
An organ was played consistently and well but a little slower
than it might have been.
Did anything distract
Other than my children?! The wooden sculpture at the front got
me thinking about where it came from in the Bible. It was of
a man kneeling to pray and two other men looking as if to stone
him. The praying man didn't immediately strike me as Jesus and
I thought it might be Daniel, which was interesting for a large
sculpture at the front of a church. I'm sorry we didn't get
a picture of it.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The term meditative could be used here, as the singing was very
quiet and without seemingly any passion. The final hymn, for
which there was a marked sign of improvement, was "Be thou
my vision" and I heard someone else say she knew that one.
It could be the majority of the congregation didn't know the
other songs; we certainly didn't. There was quite a lot of liturgy
in the service, but if the responses were in the book we didn't
know where to find them.
Exactly how long was the
On a scale of 1-10, how
good was the preacher?
7 Father Martin's introduction was interesting, but then
he made a good first point and stopped. Being more used to sermons
that last 30 minutes, we were quite surprised that he stopped
when he did!
In a nutshell, what was
the sermon about?
He talked about how people predict the end of the world. He
even listed some dates that have been mentioned by people calling
themselves prophets. But actually we don't know when the end
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Opening the hymn book and finding the final song was to be "Be
thou my vision".
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
Stopping "Be thou my vision" after only three verses,
when there were five written in the hymnbook! Oh, the temptation
to sing them anyway! And our son, the Irontedette, became restless
during the unfamiliar service and began playing with a ball
he had brought with him – and kicked it into another pew!
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
Not a lot. People filed out of the door as they had filed so
efficiently in for the mass. There were no refreshments. Mrs
Ironted had to use the facilities and asked someone where they
were. We were pretty well the last people to leave. The priest
was still standing at the door and, with a smile on his face,
stopped the Irontedette from running out. But when we turned
round to say something else to him, he was gone.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
Non-existent, unless it was in a hall somewhere else and we
hadn't been invited!
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 It is not the style of church that we are used to.
However, other than the odd smile, I was amazed at how a family
like ours, who clearly hadn't been there before, could be so
ignored by the congregation. If we had not been Christians and
just been people going along to try out church, then I'm pretty
sure we wouldn't bother again.
Did the service make you
feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes and no. Many people (with different traditions from my own)
were praying and honouring Jesus. Yet the lack of welcome received
and the absence of chatter probably explains why so many people
have given up on church, and as a consequence, God.
What one thing will you
remember about all this in seven days' time?
The sculpture at the front. Oh, and my son kicking his ball
into another pew!
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