Never been to (our) church before?

NEVER BEEN TO (OUR) CHURCH BEFORE?

Coming  to church for the first time – or even venturing to a ‘new’ place of worship - can be a daunting experience.

Whichever of our three churches you are planning to come to, it may help to remember that all of us were new here at some time. Please be assured that you will be made very welcome and that there is no need to feel awkward or embarrassed.

When you first arrive, you will be greeted by a ‘sidesperson’ – an official welcomer -  whose job it is to make you welcome and to give you the various books and leaflets that you will need for the service.

For most services, you’re welcome to sit anywhere in the main part of the church known as The Nave. It will help you to feel part of the service if you can see what is happening, so we recommend that you sit in the middle part of the church rather than in one of the side aisles, from where you will have a good view of the altar (where the sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated), the lectern (from which the ‘lessons’ are read) and the pulpit (from which the sermon is usually preached.)   

The service should follow the order in the service booklet given on your arrival, and the person leading the service may occasionally announce what page we are on and so on. If you get lost or confused, please don’t be afraid to ask people sitting nearby to help. Hopefully, if they spot that you’re a newcomer, they’ll offer to help you anyway!  

Most of our services are a celebration of The Eucharist (also sometimes called Mass or Holy Communion).  Whatever Christian denomination you belong to, if you believe in God the Holy Trinity and usually receive the bread and wine at Communion, you are welcome to do so here.

If you don’t normally receive Communion, or if you don’t wish to do so, at the time of Communion, you can come to the altar rail for a blessing instead.  If you come to the altar rail holding the service booklet, this will help the priest to know that you want a blessing. Alternatively you may just wish to stay in your seat and let it all ‘wash over you’. This is also perfectly acceptable. 

Once a month, the main Sunday morning service is a less formal ‘All Age' Service and you may prefer to try this as your first experience of the church, especially if you have young children.

Your children can sit with you throughout the service, but if they become restless, feel free to take them to the children’s corner that we have at the back of both All Saints and St Thomas’ church.  You will find a supply of books and toys there.  

Please don't worry about any noise your children may make. God can cope with it - and so can we! We will be delighted to have some young people with us

We take a collection at most of our services. If you would like to contribute to the life of the church, any donation will be very gratefully received. If you are a UK tax payer, you can ‘covenant’ your gift by using one of the coloured envelopes that you will find in the pews and filling in the details on the front. This enables us to claim an additional percentage of your gift back from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. However, it is not obligatory to give anything, and it’s the responsibility of the regular church attenders to keep the church going. Many of them give directly from their bank accounts, so if you pass the plate on without putting anything on it, you won’t be alone and you certainly needn’t feel awkward.

If you’re not sure what to do during the service just follow everyone else or, if you prefer, you can just remain seated throughout. No-one will be offended.  

As you leave the church after the service, the priest or minister will usually be at the door to say goodbye. Do take a moment to introduce yourself. Don’t worry, the clergy don’t bite, and you won’t be pressured into telling us all about yourself or ‘signing up’ for any church groups or activities (unless, of course, you want to).  We just like to be able to say hello and to know who has been worshipping with us!

At All Saints and St Thomas’ Tea and Coffee is usually served in the neighbouring church hall or parish room after the main Sunday morning service, and we would be delighted if you could join us. Again, however, this is entirely up to you.

All Saints and St Thomas’ have an induction loop for the hard of hearing. Both also have toilet facilities in the neighbouring church hall/parish room.

We hope this has given you some idea of what to expect in our churches, but if you are still nervous or uncertain after reading all this, feel free to contact one of the ministry team and we will gladly answer any further questions that you may have or even arrange for someone to meet you to show you round.

We hope to meet you soon!