Garrison Church

Outside, it looks like any other traditional, Anglican church, if a little squat. Inside, however, one notices the old fashioned military drums and the regimental banners and flags. This is a garrison church at Inverness’ Fort George. There’s no namby-pamby Christianity here. The clergy may well wear their own service medals and the hymn-singing, once the new recruits have overcome their musical shyness, ought to offer a bold combination of bass, baritone and tenor.

I remember reading Samuel Logan Brengle twenty years ago. He was a Salvation Army writer back in the 1890s, and he was complaining about the effete, soft Christianity of his day. I suspect he was having a pop at the early Keswick Conventions, with their silk-clad middle-class patrons and menfolk forever talking about yielding and surrendering. The ‘Saly Army’, in contrast, was a holiness movement more focussed on social action and spiritual combat. There is something rather wholesome about this, and worthy of our emulation. Churches are too often considered, even by their own members, as doctors’ surgeries, psychiatric clinics, friendship circles or glee clubs. The apostle likens the Christian to a soldier, in need of armour and sword, of a warrior unconcerned by civilian affairs. No Christian should ever engage in physical violence, but we are still in a battle. We would be wise to see our chapels as garrison churches. Together, we hold the fort; together, we wrestle against principalities and powers.