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2713: St Catherine's, Blairgowrie, Scotland
St Catherine, Blairgowrie (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Aileen.
The church: St Catherine's, Blairgowrie, Scotland.
Denomination: Scottish Episcopal Church, Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane.
The building: Built in 1842 to the design of the 14-year-old stepson of the then incumbent, this red sandstone church has a nave and chancel, unusual for Reformation churches. The west wall has five lancet windows. The interior features many decorative panels and paintings. One of these, The Escape of St Peter from Prison by the Italian Baroque master Mattia Preti, was sold in 1989 and replaced by a copy.
The church: It seems there are many Englishmen living in Blairgowrie who belong to this church and come regularly. The church is open daily for prayer and meditation. In addition to the Sunday eucharist, there is a eucharist on Wednesdays and daily prayer each morning.
The neighbourhood: Blairgowrie is the larger of the two burghs Blairgowrie and Rattray, which were united by an Act of Parliament in 1928. Dundee and Perth are nearby. The area is an important producer of soft fruit such as strawberries and raspberries. The church is in a long road full of homes, with shops and hotels a short distance away.
The cast: The Very Revd Kenny Rathband, dean of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane.
The date & time: Sunday, 6 July 2014, 9.30am.

What was the name of the service?
Sung Eucharist and Holy Baptism.

How full was the building?
About 100 people, adults and children. It's a small church and so it seemed quite full.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
As I came in, I was welcomed and given the hymnbook and service sheet.

Was your pew comfortable?
It was a very comfortable pew, with wood at the beginning and bits of soft things to go down on our knees.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
There was excellent music by the man on the piano. Many also chatted as they came in, on time before the service started.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Welcome to you all!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Scottish Liturgy and Anglican Hymns, Old and New.

What musical instruments were played?
Piano, played very well.

Did anything distract you?
I was very happy to see the child being baptised, but my child is not yet baptised and I feel a bit worried about that.

St Catherine, Blairgowrie (Altar)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
We worshipped well and sang well. We stood up to sing and also at times to pray.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
20 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
8 – Dean Rathband preached well and also we could hear him well – unlike in some churches.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
God is good and full of kindness and generosity to those who come to him in prayer. God loves us and helps us. Have a relationship with Jesus and his teachings, as embodied in the Bible. Jesus is gentle and humble with us. Respond to him, accept him, and he will come to us.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I felt happy about the child being baptised, connected with Jesus, who loves the baby.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
A large cross on the wall reminded me of the smaller crosses on my parents' coffins when they died.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
People chatted to me and showed me where the refreshments were. Everyone was very nice.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There were tea and coffee and sweet bits of food, across the way from the church. All excellent!

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
8 – I would like to belong to this church if I were to come to Blairgowrie.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Not only glad, but sure in my faith. "This is our faith. We believe in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The reassuring tone to many of the prayers, such as: "The light of Christ scatters the darkness from your heart and mind."
 
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