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and Strathpeffer Free Church, Dingwall, Ross-shire, Scotland
& Strathpeffer Free Church, Dingwall, Ross-shire,
A beautiful building, both indoors and outdoors. It is old
and traditional, and with a very high tower, round at the
top. Unique! Iíve never seen one like that before. Inside
was rebuilt two years ago, with red painted colour high above
in the roof. All the upper roof is wood, with flowers on top
and gold flowers holding up the top area, the gallery. A lovely
round large coloured glass window is full of flowers high
above the pulpit area, and a small one is at the back. All
other windows are clear. It is light and clean all over. There
is an "Alpha and Omega" in gold and red. Outside there is
a special memory statue erected 1886 of the original minister,
John Kennedy, who was born 1819, died 1884, and it looks similar
to the memories in cemeteries.
The church seems to have all ages of people, male and female.
They have a parent and toddler group every Tuesday, a youth
group, a prayer fellowship, and are supporting the "Road to
Recovery" for any people affected by addiction in their area.
They are very friendly.
Dingwall is a bustling market town in the Scottish highlands,
not far from Inverness. It was formerly the site of a castle
built in the 13th century on what may have been the birthplace
of Macbeth. Nothing remains of the castle today. The high
street, lined with traditional stone-made buildings and shops
that serve up good food, was once a part of the A9 highway,
but the opening of the Cromarty Firth Bridge moved the highway
more to the east, thus easing congestion. The town also has
many churches of many denominations. There is a museum and
many good walks up hills and around the river. Ross County
Football Club was the second in the Scottish competition this
The Revd Angus MacRae, minister. Another man led the psalm
singing, but I did not learn his name. Neither did I learn
the name of the woman who played the piano.
The date & time:
Sunday, 30 May 2010, 6.00pm.
What was the name of
How full was the building?
Half full, about 80 people.
Did anyone welcome you
A man welcomed me with a smile. When I went on in, several
people welcomed me and asked about my holiday and visiting.
They also pointed out to me the beautiful coloured glass.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pews have all been removed, and in their place are strong
wooden light cream seats, soft and very comfortable, with
red cushions. The seats are all fixed to each other and have
a gap at the back for the Bible and psalter to be placed there.
How would you describe
the pre-service atmosphere?
It was very friendly, with quiet chatting among people, young
and old. People lent a helping hand to an elderly person who
entered. Everyone seemed on time and ready to worship!
What were the exact
opening words of the service?
"Hello. Welcome to come! Wonderful to come on a sunny
What books did the congregation
use during the service?
Sing Psalms with the Scottish Psalter and The
Holy Bible, New International Version. The psalms were
also projected via PowerPoint.
What musical instruments
The psalms were sung with no musical instrument; a gentleman
led the congregation as they sang together in harmony. At
the end of the service a young woman played the piano and
we sang a scripture song, "Living Lord, our praise we render!"
by Timothy Dudley-Smith.
Did anything distract
The video that opened the service (see below) was a bit distracting.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip,
happy clappy, or what?
The service began with a video produced by OMF, the East Asia
missionary group, that focussed on work being done in Thailand.
It stressed that we needed to pray for the Thai as they were
still mainly Buddhist. After that we sang some psalms. No
one clapped or was rigid, but all sang beautifully, in harmony,
keeping the tunes perfect and obviously worshipping God in
their minds, voices and emotions. There were scriptural readings
and prayers spoken to lead us, not written prayer, and a small
prayer at the end of the sermon. We were also blessed
by the love and care and acceptance and being reborn by God.
Exactly how long was
On a scale of 1-10,
how good was the preacher?
9 Pastor MacRae illustrated his sermon with PowerPoint
notes. I felt these helped us to focus.
In a nutshell, what
was the sermon about?
The title was "Sealed with the
Holy Spirit." The pastor took as his text Ephesians 1 (God
predestined us for adoption through Christ; may God give us
the wisdom to know him). Focus on who God is, what God has
done in the past, present and future. God chose us before
time, adopted us as his children. We give God joy as God gives
us joy. When we believe in God, we are sealed in the Spirit,
as a symbol of God's ownership. We become full of comfort
and reassurance. God's Spirit lives within us permanently
in our hearts, our minds, our thoughts. We were in selfishness
and sin and are now free in life and God. We are saved, sanctified,
and holy saints, forever. God guarantees his care and love
for us despite persecution by people and the devil. We long
to cease from our strivings. We are waiting for every angel,
every star, everything recognised by God. God has so far completed
his wonderful plan only partially; there is much more to come.
Honour and love each other and God.
Which part of the service
was like being in heaven?
Wonderful singing by the whole congregation, wonderful feeling
of blessing and love by God and being filled by the Holy Spirit.
And which part was like
being in... er... the other place?
During the sermon, the pastor described how cattle and sheep
were branded in the past with very, very hot metal. I felt
the pain! And nowadays they have attachments to their ears.
What happened when you
hung around after the service looking lost?
No one ignored me. Many chatted to me, asked about me, and
said they hoped I had a very good time camping in Dingwall
and enjoyed both my holiday and the love of God.
How would you describe
the after-service coffee?
There was none that evening, but one of the parishioners invited
me to her home for something nice to eat and drink (I accepted).
That was great to do. She drove me in her car to her lovely
home up the hill, where I could look out and see the beautiful
area, the Black Isle and Cromwall Firth. She served excellent
cake and juice, tea, and coffee! I stayed about an hour and
she saw me back down the hill along the tree area.
How would you feel about
making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
9 If I lived there, I would definitely experiment attending
regularly and see what I felt like and if I continued to get
blessing of God and teaching from the Bible.
Did the service make
you feel glad to be a Christian?
What one thing will
you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The positive feeling I had walking in, and the positive feeling
I had of the people there, and the positive feeling of the
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