Here’s a step by step guide so you know what to expect during an ordinary Sunday Morning Service. There are occasions when things will be slightly different, (e.g. when we have Baptisms or ordain new Members or Elders, but your Order of Service will guide you.
It’s a long time since people had to wear hats to church! Nowadays, people wear what they are comfortable in. You will notice ‘On-Duty’ Elders wearing black especially for Communion Services, but this is not required for the congregation.
We hope not, we pride ourselves on being welcoming! As you walk through the gates and up to the front door of the church, you will see some of our people at the entrance. They are not ‘bouncers’, they are waiting to welcome you! We call them the Door Duty Team, and are ‘Elders’ of the church. You will see they wear name badges when it’s their turn to be ‘on duty’ - to welcome, answer any questions and deal with any situations, such as illness.
TIP: If you arrive early, people will have more time to chat to you and answer any questions you may have.
In the entrance, on the right, you will see the ‘Offerings Plate’ for contributions to church funding. Church Members normally put their money into special envelopes, some of which attract Gift Aid, but this is not essential. (Please do not feel uncomfortable if you are not able to give).
You will be given an Order of Service leaflet which tells you what will happen in today’s Service, as well as some other useful information.
Find a seat, any seat you like, upstairs or downstairs.
Note: The only exceptions to this are:
• the choir’s seats at the front, (which you probably won’t want to sit in!);
• the few rows at the front centre, marked as reserved for the Sunday School children;
• or the front row chairs (mainly used for baptisms)
The Door Duty Team will guide you if you are unsure.
The Choir enters around 11am and sings the Introit (introductory music). The Bible is brought in and the Minister follows. She (or he, if she is away) makes her introductory remarks, then reads out the Intimations, or announcements, which are also written in the Order of Service.
No, we all sing hymns as shown in the Order of Service. (Numbers are also listed on the wall to each side of the Minister.) You can usually find our ‘CH4’ hymn books at the end of pews, but people will share if not. We normally stand up to sing after the organist has played an introduction (just follow others). But if you are not able to stand, don’t worry, you can continue sitting.
During the Service, two passages will be read from the Bible and you can just listen, but if you want to read them yourself, there are usually Bibles at the end of the pews (rows of seats). Prayers are also said by the Minister, including the Lord’s Prayer which everyone joins in with. If you do not know the words, you can just listen. You can find the words here.
Most people close their eyes to pray so they can concentrate, and they put their hands loosely together in a comfortable way. Do what suits you.
After the Minister has given her children’s talk, or children’s address, we sing a child-friendly hymn and then the Sunday School children leave with their leaders, or teachers. They meet elsewhere in the church buildings and enjoy age-appropriate activities. Very young children and babies normally go to the crèche before the service.
This is a talk with a message, usually linked to the earlier Bible reading in some way. Touching on everyday life, the Minister makes the Bible message easier to understand, and often there are humorous stories or quips. Not like the ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons of yesteryear!
Towards the end of the service, (which takes about an hour) the Minister says words of blessing (the ‘Benediction’) for everyone and we sing Amen three times. To finish, we sing the words printed at the bottom of the Order of Service, then the Minister and the Bible, which is carried by an Elder called ‘the Beadle’, leave the church. Once they leave, people stand up and follow, accompanied by (usually) rousing organ music. You can leave by the front, back, or side doors, all lead to the front gate area. You may wish to chat to the Minister outside as you leave, or go into the Lower Hall (up the ramp or steps) to have tea / coffee and biscuits and chat to others. No charge is made, but there is a donations dish. Note: After saying goodbye to people, the Minister returns to her room (the Vestry) on the right as you enter the church and meets with those who have arranged with the Door Duty Team to see her.
Speak to the Minister. Every so often she arranges a series of meetings to discuss what is involved with those who are interested in becoming members of the church.