What happens in church; what do I do? What shall I wear?
Our services usually start pretty promptly and communion services last on average an hour, and All Age Services about 45 minutes.
Some people like to wear fairly formal clothes [e.g. suit and tie] but most wear casual clothes, and clean jeans are quite acceptable these days. Very few women wear hats or cover their heads.
When you arrive at the church you will be handed a hymn book and a service booklet, and sometimes a notices sheet. Then go and sit in any convenient pew. People will sit for a little to gather their thoughts and maybe say a prayer, and it is also a good time to look at your service booklet. This gives information not only on what will be said and done. At this time if there is an organist, he or she will be playing and, if the church has bells, they will be ringing.
When the Minister arrives in the church everyone gets up and the service begins. Your service booklet will tell you when to get up and sit down, and the Minister will usually announce this as well. In the service book you will find that the words the Minister says are in normal type and the responses that you say are in bold type. When prayers are said it is customary either to kneel on one of the cushions hung on the seat in front of you, or, more often, you can simply sit with your head bent.
At some point in the service there will be an address or sermon. These are a good deal shorter and livelier than in the past and well worth listening to! If you wear a hearing aid the larger churches have loops.
In many of our churches we observe "The Peace". When the Minister says "Let us offer one another a sign of peace", you just shake hands with the people near you and say to one another "Peace be with you".
If it is a Communion service the congregation will be invited to come up to the altar rail, row by row, and kneel to receive first the bread and then the wine. If you do not wish to receive Communion, just wait quietly in the pew - you will probably not be alone. Alternatively, you might like to go up to the altar rail and kneel with your hands by your sides, and you will receive a blessing.
The hymn one before last one is announced as the "Offertory" hymn. If a collection will take place, you will be handed a pouch into which you can put some money. If you didn't bring any, just hand it along to the next person. If you pay a higher rate of tax it would be enormously helpful if you could fill in one of the envelopes at the back of the church and put the money in it so the tax can be reclaimed by the church.
At the end of the service the Minister will pronounce the blessing and walk to the back of the church. The organist will play, and most people sit quietly to gather their thoughts again and say a final prayer. Sometimes we have coffee!
The Minister will be at the door as you leave, so do introduce yourself, as he or she will want to know about you.
Remember that if you would simply like to sit at the back for a few services and not take part at all, we will still be very pleased to see you!
There is now a children's corner in most of the churches with activities for younger ones during the service. However, All Age Worship is be informal and fairly active so we hope that all members of the congregation, adults and children alike, will be happy to take part. Do not worry if your small child is noisy - we believe that this is their way of worshipping!
We would like to welcome you into our churches. Refreshments will often be served after the service to give us all the chance to get to know one another.