Our mission says that we aim to gather new disciples. All who attend St Machar’s
are made most welcome; even the minor event of coffee after every service is an instrument
for including and binding all worshippers into a community. It is not only Presbyterian
Aberdonians who attend St Machar’s; the congregation comes from all over the world
and from many different churches, and the Kirk Session includes people who were brought
up in the Anglican, Catholic, Congregationalist, Lutheran, and Methodist traditions.
The modes of evangelism used by St Machar’s are many and varied. The building is
a great asset. It is thought that there has been a church on the site since around
600. The present building dates from the early fifteenth century and its famous heraldic
ceiling from 1520.
In the past the church was described as late medieval, but a recent history of Scottish
architecture sees St Machar’s as Scotland’s earliest renaissance building, which
drew its inspiration from Tuscany rather than France.
The Cathedral is open 365 days a year for those who wish to think and pray: a surprising
number of people recognise it as a place of sanctuary, leave a prayer on the prayer
tree, light a votive candle or just sit and contemplate. There are also some 25,000
tourists in the Cathedral each year: we make a point of offering a verbal welcome
whenever we can; there are short leaflets in many languages; the illustrated guidebook
describes St Machar’s as a place of active worship, not as an ancient monument. On
Doors Open Day we welcome many Aberdonians who have never before visited the Cathedral,
or whose only visit was long ago; teas and coffees are available, and music is normally
provided by young members of the Cathedral.