Mystery Worshipper: Aileen
Church: Oban Baptist
Location: Albany Street, Oban, Scotland
Date of visit: Sunday, 29 May 2011, 11:00am
The building is not huge, but has a section underneath also, where we had tea and biscuits after the service. They also have another building next to them, "Happy Home", the children's Christian preschool. There is a notice outside reading: "Visitors warmly welcome." The windows are plain clear glass. There are two wonderful banners: one made by children a cross of Jesus with a gold crown on it; another one full of colour, bearing the inscription "I will pour out my Spirit on all people", by the adults.
They are very friendly, and of course they are a community who all get physically baptised in full water, as did Jesus. Babies will be dedicated to God and taken care of spiritually.
Oban is on the edge of Scotland and has many ships that go to many islands nearby. There are some very old traditional, lovely buildings there. There are hills and forests. Lots of churches. And oh yes, a whisky distillery and some micro breweries!
A lady known only as "Janet" gave the welcome and notices. Terry McKentchen led and preached. The Revd Paul Brake, the pastor, was away.
What was the name of the service?Morning Service.
How full was the building?
Very full, mainly adults, just a few children. Quite a lot of visitors on holiday in Oban.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I entered the door, I was welcomed friendly, it being obvious that I was a visitor, with smiles and advice where to put my waterproof jacket. We were not given hymn books.
Was your pew comfortable?
We were all in seats, in straight rows facing the front. They were comfortable.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Everyone was there before the service started, and most were chatting quietly to those sitting beside them. All were friendly, and all in my row were visitors! Everyone was in silence and listening to the notice when it started.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
Janet, a senior member of the church, spoke first; "Welcome, visitors. There is tea after the service." She told us that their pastor was away and introduced Terry McKentchen. She informed us that there was no music playing today and we would sing worship without that. Terry then started us with Psalm 100.
What books did the congregation use during the service?
No books at all were provided and most of us had our own Bibles. Mine was New International Version and that's the version that was read. Hymns and psalms were projected up onto the wall, where we could read and sing them without looking down.
What musical instruments were played?
None were played, but a piano, guitars and drum kit could be seen up on a platform. All the singing was excellent, unaccompanied.
Did anything distract you?
Remembering that most of us came with waterproof clothes because it had been rainy, despite the warmth and happy feelings about the congregation and God in this church.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Everyone sang in tune, many singing in harmony, and the focus was all on the words and the tune. We were encouraged to sing and praise God as do the seraphim.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
7 minutes (children's); 40 minutes (adults'), including the prayer finishing the sermon.
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Terry McKentchen showed the children pictures, asked questions, and made them feel happy because God promises to look after us, and prayed for them and thanked God.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
His text was Mark 1:40-45 (Jesus heals a man with leprosy). Leprosy was taken seriously in biblical times; its victims were banned from the community. Stones were thrown at lepers. Compare leprosy to sin. We are all affected by our sin, which we have inherited from Genesis time, and the wages of sin is death. But that leper gave us a good example: he came to Jesus and asked for healing. We need Jesus to rescue us and heal us, despite what some say. We become clean by throwing ourselves at Jesus. He heals us, like he healed the leper. No one else touched or healed the leper. Maybe no one touches us, but Jesus touches us spiritually and showers freedom and life on us. Jesus does not then become unclean. By his wounds, on the cross, we are healed. Jesus can make us all healed and clean. Thank you, God, for your forgiveness. To God be the glory!
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The wonderful singing and genuine spirit of worship. The notion that Jesus loves us. How happy the children seemed to be at church!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
"The wages of sin is death" made me feel oh so guilty!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Lots of people spoke nicely to all of us who were visitors and reminded us of the tea downstairs. They not only showed us the way, but went with us and made sure we enjoyed having tea with them.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
It was hot tea, in real cups, with biscuits. We all liked it.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I really liked it, and I'd probably also explore the other Oban churches if I came to live in Oban.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, particularly the wonderful, spiritual singing and the encouragement in the sermon, the prayers to God, and the wonderful banners about God's love.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
"Visitors warmly welcome."