Glasgow City Free Church

Glasgow City Free Church, Glasgow, Scotland


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Glasgow City Free Church
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Date of visit: Sunday, 10 June 2012, 6:00pm

The building

A Greek temple with bell tower, the work of 19th century Glasgow architect Alexander Thomson, dating from 1859. The bright, soaring interior is replete with classic Greek, Assyrian and Indian influences. There is a gallery above and a high timber roof. It is beautiful. The church was decorated with white flowers on the day of my visit.

The church

The congregation was formed in 1994 when two congregations merged. Their many activities, both social and spiritual, are well documented on their website, and emphasise worship, teaching, fellowship, and service to God.

The neighborhood

The church is located up a hill from an assortment of clothing and food shops.

The cast

The Revd David Parker.

What was the name of the service?

Evening Worship

How full was the building?

The church was very full with both adults and children, all involved in the worship. There seemed to be about 100 people.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

As I came in, a woman smiled and said hello. She told me there would be hymns projected at the front of the church so we could see them and sing along.

Was your pew comfortable?

Lots of wood pews. Yes, they were comfortable.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

People talked to each other before the service as they met. Everyone seemed very friendly.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Welcome, visitors. Remember, God loves you."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Just a service bulletin.

What musical instruments were played?

Piano. Their organ is not in playable condition. Unaccompanied psalms and hymns were led by a gentleman.

Did anything distract you?

I was interested to see so many children at an evening service, and they all behaved well.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

The traditional congregational prayer, scriptural readings and singing. Lots of singing, including "Guide me O my Great Redeemer."

Exactly how long was the sermon?

35 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 – The Revd Mr Parker spoke in a gentle, conversational voice.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

His text was Matthew 6:9-15 (the Lord's Prayer). Some people pray by jumping up and down, but it's important to come back to basics. The Lord's Prayer is much more than just a prayer – it's a manifesto for the Christian Church. It's what Jesus wants us to focus on. The focus of prayer should be away from ourselves and toward heaven. God is our heavenly Father, not a father in any human sense of the word. His name is hallowed, set apart. All worldly kingdoms will fall; God's kingdom will never fall. Jesus is asking us to focus on God's agenda, God's will. The Christian community is one of forgiveness, no matter how extreme the sin. That is the joy and hope and glory of the gospel. One who has never forgiven others cannot know what it means to be forgiven. And so when we pray, we must not let our personal shopping list of needs take precedence over God's will.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The whole service felt like being in heaven, as almost all of it was about God's love and awareness of us, in prayer, hymns and sermon. Also people were friendly to us.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

I felt a bit guilty about not always forgiving others and myself.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

Several people spoke to us and offered us literature about the church and prayer.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

After the evening service there was nothing – no tea or coffee.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

6 – I have never belonged to a Free Church, and if I lived near there, I might find out about it!

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

I felt very happy to hear the love of God and how Jesus was so good to us.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

I remember how amazing the church looks, and how friendly and how many people were there in the evening, and God's care for us all.

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