Advanced search

Going to Church (of Scotland) for the first time tomorrow. What to expect?

(23 Posts)
Saidar Sat 04-May-13 21:51:21

Recently met a minister for the Church of Scotland, got on brilliantly with him. I liked his approach to faith and life in general.

Over the past year I've gone from Athiest to Agnostic, and decided I wanted to explore my feelings towards faith. I can't explain why, or where the feelings have come from. Partly due to the brilliant minister I met I've decided to go to my local Church tomorrow for morning worship.

I'm going alone, DP has his faith and beliefs which are his own and my DS is too young (10) to make his mind up just yet. I don't want to do anything stupid but I would like to join in as much as I can. What can I expect?

Abra1d Sat 04-May-13 21:53:07

I'm a Catholic and have nothing but praise for the Church of Scotland people I've met. They're a long way from the Calvinist cliche I was expecting. Kind, intelligent people.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 04-May-13 21:57:49

I was raised in the CoS. They stand to sing, and sit, head bowed, to pray. There will be a couple of hymns, accompanied by music. And a (usually fairly moderate, CoS doesn't really do fire and brimstone any more) sermon.

And tea and biscuits in tne Church Hall.

Well, that's how it was in my day. smile

Abra1d Sat 04-May-13 21:58:44

Sorry, pushed Post Message too soon.

I found the church plain (compared with a Catholic one, at least!), but attractive. Some of the hymns were familiar, others weren't. The sung psalms were not something I had come across before. The Elders (lay people who have a church role) are very helpful in showing you which books you need, where to sit, exactly. The sermons are generally very well planned and executed (on the whole superior to RC homilies). A lot of emphasis on community. Very cheerful, really. Far from the dour stereotype.

As a Catholic I sometimes find there's lack of emphasis on the soul and the personal relationship with Christ, but that is not a criticism. As I said, it seems a very admirable branch of Christianity. My husband is CoS.

But as with all branches of Christianity, so much depends on the minister!

Saidar Sat 04-May-13 23:07:21

Thank you for your answers. The minister is not the gentlemen I have previous met, he is not local to me. I have heard our minster is a lovely woman though.

He didn't seem fire and brimstone at all Lady so I'm hoping your experience is something that is across the board here, there was lots of love and peace and discussions about how faith was a personal thing which should not be judged by others.

Abra, the church seems modern but is older than it looks. Very simple but pleasing IYSWIM. Perhaps the lack of emphasis on the personal relationship with Christ will suit me, at the moment I still feel rather private about my faith and I'm looking forward to working through it all in my own time before I feel ready to start really sharing my thoughts on it.

Thank you both for the practical advice on what to expect and I shall keep an eye out for the Elders if I need help.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sat 04-May-13 23:39:24

Fire and brimstone is pretty much reserved to the Free Presbyterian Church, and (I think this is what it's called) the Free Presbyterian Church Continuing; there was a schism a few years ago, I forget what caused it. They are known colloquially as the "Wee Frees" and are much more conservative/Calvinist (or dour!) than mainstream CoS; women cover their heads in Church, they don't have music for hymns, indeed they don't "do" hymns at all, only the Psalms. There's also some connection with the Lord's Day Observance Society/Keep Sunday Sacred folk. They are mostly active in the Western Isles, though I know they have churches in Edinburgh and Inverness.

Mainstream CoS is pretty user-friendly, though they are currently tying themselves in knots over gay ordination, and the Helen Percy incident did them no favours at all.

The great joy of the Presbyterian system (CoS is Presbyterian) is that the congregation has a lot of say in how their individual church works, via the Elders, so if the first congregation doesn't work for you, try another. I think other varieties of Xtianity have their vicars/priests sent to them, the Presby. system means the congregation choose their own spiritual leader.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-May-13 00:08:31

Oh, and "Wee Frees" stand to pray, and sit to sing, which is why I mentioned that CoS are the other way around. It was what most confused me when I attended a "Wee Free" Church after years in the CoS. [b

Graceparkhill Sun 05-May-13 00:20:38

DH and I have been to a fair few Cof S services and they are generally similar. Usually you get an order of service on the way in and a hymn book. That will keep you right.

There should be a bible in the pew if you want to follow the bible reading.

Most CofS that I have been to clearly signal each element - hymns,( sometimes choir will sing alone) two short bible readings ,prayers - 3 or 4 including the Lord's Prayer which is generally said aloud in unison, collection and sermon from Minister. Oh and announcements about activities and meetings.

Junior Church are generally present for the beginning of the service and there will be a hymn and address aimed at them.

At the end there will be a blessing and the congregation remains seated until the Minister has left. He/ she goes to front door to shake hands as people leave.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-May-13 01:50:56

Um, Grace, I've never had an "order of service" unless it's a wedding or a funeral. It's fine if that's the extent of your own experience, but OP will not be given an "order of service" on an ordinary Sunday.

The numbers of the hymns/psalms to be sung will probably be exhibited, and hymnarys will be freely available. And just ask, if you're not sure!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-May-13 01:56:05

Sorry, Grace, have re-read your post and agree with almost all of it. Just not the "order of service" on the way in, I have honestly only ever seen those for weddings and funerals, never for a routine Sunday.

sleepyhead Sun 05-May-13 02:21:47

We have a printed Order of Service every week. My parents' church does too. It'll vary from place to place though I guess.

I agree with what pp say about format of service. That will be the same wherever you go. CoS congregations differ in how moderate/evangelical they are. I left one church because the minister preached a very hard line sermon against same sex marriage. My current church is very pro, despite on the surface being far more traditional and formal in worship style.

sleepyhead Sun 05-May-13 02:26:27

Also, there will be no compulsion or expectation for you to "join". You can become a member down the line if you feel like it, but plenty people attend services regularly or occasionally without being church members.

The church will probably run a series of Enquirers classes if sometime down the line you want to explore the idea of confirmation. My atheist dh attends the odd service and gets involved at social events and noone's bothered that he's not a "member" though.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-May-13 02:27:22

OK, will take your word re order of service, sleepy, and extend due apologies to Grace. Sorry, Grace. thanks

Graceparkhill Sun 05-May-13 10:48:14

No need for apologies Old Lady. I have been to some churches where order of service ( and words to hymns ) were projected onto a screen . Less paper and better for the eyesight.
Found it very interesting to think about going to church from a first timers pov. Some of it must seem strange . In my experience most congregations are delighted to see someone new and nobody bats an eyelid if you stand/ sit at the wrong time!

cloutiedumpling Sun 05-May-13 12:58:36

How did it go? I hope you enjoyed the service. I go to a CofS church and agree that they can differ quite widely depending on the minister and congregation. If you felt the church this morning wasn't quite "you" then you could always try another one.

We always have an order of service at our church, but not at my parents church which is also CofS. I think it may depend on how computer literate the elders are!

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 13:11:25

I came to find how you enjoyed it too smile

Viviennemary Sun 05-May-13 13:14:44

The people are nice but the churches much too austere for my liking. The services are hymn singing and bible reading with a sermon. It doesn't appeal much to me. But each to their own.

cloutiedumpling Sun 05-May-13 13:22:21

You might find another church has more worship songs and less hymns. In our church we usually have a mixture, with the emphasis on worship songs. The bible reading and sermon are pretty standard though, although the content of the sermon can vary hugely.

Saidar Sun 05-May-13 14:16:52

The sermon was good, meshed the story of Jesus speaking to the man who couldn't walk and how the man walked along with last night's episode of the voice! Very mixed congregation, and I think the sermon included everyone nicely. I don't watch the voice but it got me thinking a bit.

No one stood when the music started so I was looking around expecting everyone to stand, when they didn't I just thought "maybe it's different here", then everyone jumped up about half a beat before the singing started. grin

The Minister seemed surprised I had no intention of encouraging my family to join me, but as I've said upthread, my partner has his own beliefs and is comfortable with them and my son is undecided and I don't want to influence him in his decisions. I'm hoping this won't be a problem in the future but it's something I feel strongly about.

A few of the songs were from the children's hymn book even when the children weren't present. I loved this, I love singing in a big group where my not so great voice can get lost and the hymns were cheerful and uplifting.

Everyone was very welcoming, tea and biscuits after and I'm joining the knitting for charity group which meets every two weeks. Obviously you can't tell everything from one day but I know I'll be going back to see if it's what I'm looking for.

Thank you again to everyone for their help, felt a lot less nervous than I was.

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 14:42:00

Excellent. Glad you were made to feel comfortable and that you've even decided to join something already.

Entirely up to you re inviting your family of course, but wouldn't your ds find it easier to make his mind up if he's had the experience of being part of a church ? He can still reject it later, or go along with your dh, but knowledge is power in my book.
(Speaks as one who attends church each week, but dh doesn't smile)

Saidar Sun 05-May-13 15:07:20

Hi BackforGood, I agree completely, knowledge is power. grin

DS is currently getting a very good religious education from his school, they're covering so much from a very impartial point of view, he celebrated Easter by telling me all about Eostre this year.

I think being part of a church and sunday school where he is told only one side for an hour a week, plus the influence of seeing me worship could possibly upset what is currently a good and open minded attitude.

Don't get me wrong, if he asks to come he can come, until then though he can plod along and make up his own mind. After all, there's no rush, I'm nearly 30 and my mind isn't made up yet!

Does your DH ever attend with you? DP has already been though a period of exploring his beliefs and knows CoS well so has no interest, maybe I'm a late bloomer but it feel very personal, was glad to be sitting alone today tbh.

BackforGood Sun 05-May-13 16:30:55

dh only comes (usually once a year, at Christmas) when the Jnr Church take the service, so, he's doing his 'Dad duty' for our dc rather than coming along with me. He grew up in the Church (not mine) but hasn't ever joined me, except for weddings and funerals and our children's christenings.

Saidar Sun 05-May-13 16:37:13

Same here Back, DP was brought up in the church and although he's very supportive of me exploring my faith he has no desire to do so himself.

DS is involved in a youth club run at the church, but the emphasis isn't on religion, DP takes him there though.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: