What to expect...
For some people it takes courage to get through the door of a church, especially one of those big, imposing buildings.
What should I wear?
Whatever you are comfortable in. No need to dress up. The days of being dressed in "Your Sunday Best" are well gone. If its a chilly day, you might want to wear a coat or sweater. All our churches are heated, but some mornings it can take some time to get up to a comfortable temperature.
Do I need to take anything with me?
No, just come as you are!
What will happen when I get through the door?
You'll see a welcomer, often known as a sides-person or a steward. Their job is to say hello, put you at your ease and give you a hymn book, a sheet with the week's notices on it and the readings from the Bible that will be read during the service. They are your first port of call if you have a question. You can sit anywhere that you fell comfortable.
What happens when the service starts?
One of the items you get handed when you come in is a service card. This has the order of the service on it. It gives directions as to when to stand and sit. If the church has a choir, they will walk in in procession followed by the priest. In some of the churches there is a volunteer who leads the procession and carries a large cross. Other volunteers may also lead the procession carrying candles.
The service will include the singing of hymns or songs, some are old and more traditional than others. The hymns will be announced by the person leading the service. There will be prayers said - some are said by everyone altogether, and some are read out by the priest or other person leading the service. There are readings - passages from the Bible are announced and read out. One of the pieces of paper you'll be handed when you arrive has the words of the readings on it so that you can follow. There will also be a short talk by the priest which takes as its starting point one of the readings. The talk is designed to stimulate, inspire or encourage the congregation to take a thought or challenge away with them. The talk or sermon is usually 10 to 15 minutes long.
Most of our main Sunday morning services include Communion (otherwise known as the Eucharist). If you don't normally take Communion, please still go up to the altar rail when directed by a steward and receive God's blessing from the priest.
What about my children?
We'd be delighted if you bring your children with you to church. There are play areas in most of our churches and in The Church of the Holy Spirit, there is a Sunday School and at St Michael's there are activities for the children during the service. At St Augustine's there is a play area for children to use accompanied by an adult. The good thing is that the sound system in the church ensures you can still follow the service whilst supervising your children.
Please don't be embarrassed if your children want to run around at the back of church. Please don't be stressed if your children make a bit of noise!
What happens at the end of the service?
We serve a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits after the service at the back of the churches, so please don't rush off. We are a friendly lot and someone should introduce you to other people so you you'll know somebody's name by the time you leave.
Take your time to settle at the church, but when you are ready we'd love to tell you how you can get more involved.
What happen's next?
There is no pressure to do anything other than participate in the services, but very often newcomers want to find out more about the Christian faith and to make a personal response by exploring what it all means at a personal level.
We organise newcomers' evenings a few times a year when you'll be invited to the vicarage/rectory for a meal and to hear more about the life of the church and how you can play a part.
We also run short 'just looking' courses for people who want to find out more about what being a Christian means. We also offer Confirmation preparation sessions for those who have been baptised as infants but now, as adults wish to take the promises made on their behalf by parents and Godparents for themselves. To find out more, just ask a Church Warden or a member of the clergy.