Visitors to St Mary’s Church
If you haven’t been to one of our Sunday Services yet, you may be looking here to find out what you might expect when you walk through the door!
Our Welcome Team (Sides people)
First of all, we can assure you of a warm welcome! As you enter St Mary’s you will be welcomed into the church with a smile by one of our welcoming team who will give you an Order of Service and hymn book that you will need if they haven’t already been put on the church seats beforehand. They will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Please feel free to sit anywhere you wish as there are no reserved seats. The days when church members owned ‘Rented Pews’ have long since gone!
What should I wear?
If you are worried about what to wear, please be assured that you can dress as you feel most comfortable. Whilst some of the members of St Mary’s like to come to church in their Sunday Best, others are happier in Jeans and t-shirts. God doesn’t judge anyone on their outer clothing and neither do we. You will be equally welcome regardless of whether you are wearing your ‘Sunday Best’ or ‘Comfortable Casuals.’
What happens at a Service of Holy Communion?
On the night before he died Jesus shared a meal with his disciples. Together they shared bread and some wine. He told his disciples that whenever they joined together in the future they should share this special meal together in remembrance of him. Down through the centuries Christian people have been faithful to this last command of Jesus.
We give the service many different names — the Eucharist, Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, Mass – but in all denominations what we are doing is essentially the same: we take, bless and share bread and wine in remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we hold out our hands to receive the bread and wine we believe that we receive the risen life of Jesus who loves us and died for us.
Among all the different words we use to describe the service, Eucharist is probably the best. It means ‘Thanksgiving.’ We give thanks for all that Jesus has done and continues to do for us. The title Holy Communion reminds us that we are sharing a special (holy) meal together (in common union).
The shape of the Service of Holy Communion may be divided into four parts as follows:
- The Gathering. First of all we gather together as God’s holy people. We greet one another, sing a hymn of praise and acknowledge our need of God. This is usually done using set prayers and includes a prayer of confession and absolution. This section concludes with a special song of praise called ‘Gloria in Excelsis’.
- The Liturgy of the Word. For Christians the Bible is at the heart of our Christian faith and we believe that through it God has revealed his love to us. The Liturgy of the Word therefore consists of three Bible Readings. These are followed by a sermon or address which seeks to explore how the readings are relevant to us today. In the light of this we are invited to reaffirm our belief in God by saying together an affirmation of faith called ‘the Creed.’ This section concludes with Prayers of Intercessions for our own needs and the needs of our world.
- The Liturgy of the Sacrament. In the Liturgy of the Sacrament the bread and wine are taken, blessed, broken and shared together. The Priest leads a special prayer known as ‘The Eucharistic Prayer’ or ‘Prayer of Thanksgiving.’ In this prayer we remember and give God our thanks for both our creation and our salvation (the way God draws us back into relationship with him). Most of all we remember Jesus’ death on the cross for us.
- The Dismissal. At the end of the service, we dedicate ourselves to serving God in the coming week. Having said a prayer of blessing the service leader concludes by saying ‘Go in peace to love and serve the Lord’ and everybody responds by saying ‘In the name of Christ. Amen’ which simply means ‘May it be so!’
Can I receive Holy Communion?
If you have been confirmed in the Church of England or it is your practice to receive Holy Communion in any other Christian Church you are welcome to receive Holy Communion at St Mary’s.
If you do not wish to receive Holy Communion you may choose to either remain in your seat whilst others do so or come forward for a prayer of blessing, with your service sheet in your hand. This simply helps us to know that you would prefer a prayer of blessing rather than Holy Communion.
Do I have to give money to the Church Collection?
Absolutely not. Nobody should ever feel put on the spot to make a donation to the church.
After the 10am service, refreshments are available in St Mary’s Centre. Whilst many people stay for a cuppa and a chat after the service others go straight home. You are most welcome to join us for a cup of tea or coffee and to get to know other church members but there is no pressure to stay!
We hope to see you soon!