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|1549: The Barn,
Culloden, Inverness, Scotland
Barn, Culloden, Inverness, Scotland.
The Barn was built in 1729 as a tithe barn for the Culloden
estate. An outside stair leads to a window which was once the
entrance to the hay loft. The building was used by the Jacobite
army in 1746 on the night before the infamous Battle of Culloden,
marking the defeat of the Jacobites' effort to restore Charles
Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, to the
throne of England. The atrocities following that defeat were
so shameful that even today no British regiment bears Culloden
as a battle honour. It is probable that Moravian covenanters
used the buildings for their services, forbidden by law to be
held openly. Later, in the 19th century, the building became
a blacksmith's workshop before it was taken over as a mission
station in the early 20th century. In the 1970s the congregation
erected a new church, leaving the historical building to form
the church hall. The result is a very attractive, modern church.
There is a wide open grassed area at the front of the church,
offering loads of parking space and suggesting plenty of optimism.
The entrance hall is spacious, with regularly updated information
in the form of leaflets and well presented notice boards. Designed
on one level, except for a slightly raised gallery at the rear
of the church and another raised area at the front, the building
is very well presented, with a lovely open feel. Wall hangings,
lectern, simple altar table and cross form most of the interior
ornamentation. The toilets and kitchen area are much more in
the form of the facilities you would expect to find in a multifunctional
leisure building. As I write, I learned that the congregation
are planning to renovate the old vestry to provide a community
Iím really impressed with their stated vision: "To see
the fame of Jesus in Culloden, now, replacing the infamy of
the battle in 1746." I think this sums up the church in
the community. Their emphasis on family outreach, as well as
their other activities and mission work, are all described on
their regularly updated website.
Inverness, in northern Scotland, is unusual in that the city
has no official boundaries. Nearby is Loch Ness, arguably the
most famous lake in the world. Culloden Moor is minutes away
from the church, on the outskirts of Inverness. Despite the
historical significance of the area, much expansion has taken
place in recent years, and today Culloden appears to be almost
wholly residential housing.
The Revd Jim Robertson, minister, led the service.
The date & time:
17 June 2007, 10.30am.
What was the name of the service?
How full was the building?
About a third full. Seating was available for about 300.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Half a dozen people welcomed me: "Are you new to the area?"
"Are you on holiday?" "Where are you staying?"
"I hope you enjoy the service."
Was your pew comfortable?
The seating was comfortable stackable chairs.
How would you describe the pre-service
There was a gentle babble, with the worship group playing quietly.
What were the exact opening words of the
We sang the first song, "All hail King Jesus." Then
Pastor Jim said that sometimes in this church someone will utter
a "prophetic word." And indeed someone in the congregation
did speak out, saying: "I am the God of life, never running
out or breaking down, and never going away."
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
All the songs were projected onto a screen. There were weekly
notices on the seats, complete with order of service. Much of
the service was supported with pictures and information on the
screen not entirely successfully, as will be seen.
What musical instruments
Guitar, violin and flute.
Did anything distract you?
A short film about Alpha, and some of the slides used to illustrate
the service as it unfolded, suffered from there being a little
too much ambient light inside the church to be able to view
the pictures properly. That was a little distracting.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
The worship was very open. There was room for everyone to enjoy
worshipping as they were most comfortable. Some happy clappy,
some more traditional, but all very genuine and warm.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 Pastor Jim did not come over as a minister at all.
Listening to him was rather more like being in the presence
of a much loved and admired uncle.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon
The subject of the sermon was the gift of giving. Generally
as far as giving is concerned, Christians fall into two groups:
debaters and whingers. Either group can be forgetful at times.
As Christians we must be generous in our giving, remembering
that the more we have, the more we have to give. Generosity
is not only about money. Some people are naturally loving and
sociable, and it is not difficult for them to be a blessing.
Godís poverty is more enriching – Jesus was poor, and
just look at what he could do. God does not see poverty as we
do. The secret is to let Jesus live loose amongst us. The best
path, when considering giving, is to do what God wants.
Which part of the service was like being in
I think the way Pastor Jim presented the thorny subject of giving
was heavenly. He was able to present a balance sheet, which
was accepted without shuffling and embarrassing coughs. He had
a very homely, approachable manner.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
In addition to the projected pictures being awash in ambient
light, the other technical aspects of the service were, on the
whole, a disaster. I could imagine the technicians all squirming,
their ears burning with silent whispers of "Who needs this
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
I could happily have hung around until everyone went home! Many
of the congregation came to speak to me, following on from those
who welcomed me. We were able to discuss the sermon, with interesting
dialogue. Someone shared with me about a new Alpha course about
to start, someone else told me all about the children's work
and how Pastor Jim was happy to leave the youth workers to continue
with their endeavours, unhindered. As I was leaving I had a
great conversation with a young woman who was in the area visiting
family and who had been encouraged to call at the church. She
was wearing a most interesting necklace, which she explained
was made out of balloons! I could see a real market for her
How would you describe the after-service
Good hot tea, coffee and juice, all fairly traded and in proper
cups. Exceptional refreshments, very well received.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
10 If I were to settle on the east coast of Scotland,
I would definitely make this my home church. There was so much
optimism abounding, such faith in the promises of God.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a
It certainly did. I could feel love, joy, care and concern for
those present, and those who couldn't be there. I could sense
a hunger to let everyone around know, by their actions, that
Christ was alive, in all his glory.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
A fellowship working together, embracing everyone's abilities
and encouraging each other.
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