Walking into a church that you haven't been to before is a pretty daunting experience for most of us. There may be all sorts of questions that will be going through your mind, and many people have set out to go to church on several occasions before finally plucking up the courage to walk through the door! If this sounds familiar, you're not alone in your experience!
To help you feel a bit more comfortable and prepared, here we've tried to answer some of those questions.
What will the service be like?
This is perhaps the most important thing to know - what are you actually going to be attending? This varies from service to service, but this is a good guide...
8.00am Holy Communion (BCP).
This service is for the early-birds and for those who value the traditional language service. BCP is shorthand for The Book of Common Prayer - or The Prayer Book. The BCP was written in 1662 so it is in traditional language (thees, thys, thous) and includes prayers and turns of phrase that many people find both beautiful and familiar.
You can choose to sit in the choir stalls or in the main body of the church. As well as the option to receive Holy Communion, there are usually 3 readings and a sermon, but no hymns. The service lasts about 40 minutes.
10.00am Parish Communion.
This is the 'main service' on a Sunday morning with the largest attendance. The service is in modern language, there are readings, a sermon, prayers, hymns, and the option to receive Holy Communion. You'll find the vicar, servers, and choir robed, but the atmosphere is not stuffy. Singing is generally accompanied by our organist and choir.
If you are new to St Augustine's, this is the best service to come to as there will be lots of people around to say 'hello' to you, who can answer any questions, and to have a cup of coffee with after the service. We love having children in church and provide a children's area (with books/crayons/toys etc) for them to enjoy during the service. Please do not worry if they are making a noise - we are just delighted that they (and you) are there. Currently, we are unable to offer junior church (Sunday School), but we hope to be able to do so again soon. The service lasts for about an hour, followed by refreshments.
From the Book of Common Prayer, this is another traditional language service which is treasured by many. Although we do not have the choir present, we sing parts of the service and four hymns. You can choose to sit in the choir stalls or in the main body of the church. There is a short homily. The service is usually quite gentle and quiet. Evensong is the perfect way to end your Sunday.
10am Holy Communion on a Wednesday morning
Very much the same as the Sunday 8am Holy Communion (see above).
Morning Prayer (Monday to Thursday only) 8:30am
The office of Morning Prayer. A short (20 minute) service of readings, psalms, and prayers.
Evening Prayer (Monday to Thursday only) 5pm
The office of Evening Prayer. A short (20 minute) service of readings, psalms, and prayers.
Am I allowed to come?
Absolutely! The Church of England is YOUR Church, so you don't need to be a member or anything like that. We welcome everyone at St Augustine's, and we look forward to meeting you soon.
Will anyone talk to me?
At the 10am Sunday Service, you will be welcomed at the door of the church. If you are new, please let the welcomer know and they can answer any questions that you may have and introduce you to others if you would like. Please stay for coffee as this is another opportunity to meet and chat to a few other people.
Can I bring children?
Yes - please do! It is entirely up to you (and them) as to whether they make use of the children's area (with toys, books, colouring, etc) or sit with you. Please don't worry if they are noisy or if they move about. We were all children once and many of us were parents with small children in church too.
Can I receive Communion?
All those who are baptised and whose habit it is to receive Communion are welcome to at St Augustine's. If you're not baptised or if you've never received Communion before then we encourage you to come forward with everyone else and to receive a blessing instead of the bread and wine. If you receive Communion but you do not wish to share in the wine at this time, that is fine, simply move away from the altar rail once you've received the bread. If you require a gluten free wafer, please just ask at the priest when he/she gets to you.
Will I need to bring money?
Giving is an important part of the Christian life and of being part of a church. Our regular members choose to give in all sorts of ways - many of them by standing order. On a Sunday morning, we do still pass a collecting plate around during one of the hymns, but there is also a card-reader at the back of church that some people choose to use instead. Most importantly, if you forget your wallet or money is a bit tight, no-one is going to notice or challenge you about giving. We are 100 times more pleased to see you than your money!
I have reduced mobility, will I be OK?
The side door to the church (to the right of the main door) provides a stepless entrance to the church. There is a small step up into the chancel. If desired, the priest can come to you, where you are sat, to offer Communion or a blessing.
Is there parking?
There is plenty of on-road parking around St Augustine's. Please just be aware that on some of the roads a Monday to Friday parking ban exists between 11am and noon.