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Entering a church for the first time can appear to be a daunting prospect especially if you have had no experience of church services or what to expect! So here is a brief guide to help you understand what goes on, what to do and what to expect.
Our main service is held every Sunday morning at 9.30am. It is usually called a Eucharist or Communion service because at the heart of the service we remember Jesus Christ's last supper where he shared bread and wine with his disciples and asked them to do likewise in remembrance of him. We also remember his sacrifice and his resurrection, so the service can be prayerful and also joyful.
Entry to the church building is usually via the main west door which is under the main tower. There is also access via a sidedoor on the northside which can be used for wheelchair access.
When you enter the church you will be greeted and given a hymn book and service booklet. You can sit wherever you wish. Newcomers often like to sit near the back so that they can discreetly observe what's going on!
Just before 9.30am one of the ministers will address the congregation with a welcome and some notices. He or she will then ask you to stand to sing the fist hymn, the number of which will be visible on the hymn board near the front. You will notice about 5 hymn numbers, which refer to the numbers in your hymn book (not the page numbers), and the minister will announce when each hymn is to be sung.
You should then be able to follow the rest of the service via your service booklet.
Hymns are usually sung standing up and most prayers are said sitting down and we all stand to say the Creed (or our affirmation of faith).
You sit to hear the first reading from the Bible and after the second hymn you stay standing to hear the Gospel reading. After that you sit down to hear the sermon which is usually a reflection on the Bible readings.
Some time later comes 'The Peace' where the ministers invite us to share a sign of peace with those around us and usually takes the form of a handshake accompanied by the words 'Peace be with you'. This is followed by the third hymn during which a collection is taken - usually by placing your offering on a large brass plate which is passed from person to person and then presented to the priest for a blessing. The preperation for receiving Holy Communion (bread wafer and wine) then takes place during which you will be sat down.
Any one who is baptised and receives Holy Communion in another church is welcome to receive it here. If you are not baptised you can still receive a blessing from the priest. When the ministers are ready to administer the bread and wine the congregation will gradually walk towards the altar and form a semi-circle to receive them. If you wish to receive a blessing instead then take your service booklet with you, keep it in your hands and place it on your chest. This will indicate to the priest that you wish to receive a blessing. Once this has taken place you return to your seat and a further hymn is sung. This is followed by a couple of prayers.
The priest will then address the congregation with any further notices and we then stand to sing our final hymn. The priest will then bless the congregation and the ministers will leave.
Refreshments will then be served. Do please grab a tea or coffee! Feel free to chat to anyone especially one of the ministers - they will be glad to converse!
If you would initially prefer to attend a less formal service then you may like to attend one of the evening prayer services on a Sunday evening at 6.30pm. The service takes appoximately half an hour and is focussed on being led in prayer by the minister. A couple of hymns may be sung and a couple of bible readings heard.
As stated, coming to church can seem pretty daunting. You may not know anyone or what to do. But we have all been in the same situation! We are a friendly, loving bunch of people who come to church to meet in fellowship with Christ - the Lord of love and the Prince of Peace and we welcome anyone who wishes to join us or simply discover more about Jesus Christ.
If you would like to discuss attending church and meet up with a minister or have any further questions please do contact our deacon the Revd Tony Cantlow who will be glad to help. His details can be found on the Who's who page. Thank you.