FIRST TIME IN CHURCH?
The idea of coming to church for the first time can be quite daunting to some people, but it really isn’t, and we aim to be as welcoming as possible. We hope that you will feel able to come along and see whether you might want to join us regularly or occasionally.
What Covid restrictions are there?
We are making constant adjustments to follow the latest best practice. The current rules are set out on the Newsletter page.
What are the services like?
Our services are structured in mainstream Church of England style. At Harston and Hauxton we tend to use contemporary language (e.g. ‘you’ rather than ‘thou’), and at Newton we use longer-established versions of the prayer book. Please expect hymns with an organ, rather than a worship band or singing along to CDs. The Vicar (or whoever is taking the service in her place) will probably be dressed in traditional church vestments. You will be greeted and given a service book when you arrive; this is relatively easy to follow, and we often give verbal guidance about page numbers. The service books and the Vicar give us all some guidance over when to sit or stand. Our services for children are much more informal, as you can see from our Families and Children page.
What am I expected to do during services?
Please join in as much as you can, though no one will judge you if you just want to take it all in. You can follow the hymns in the book you will be given when you arrive. Join in as soon as you feel you know the tune! You can sing quietly to yourself if you don't feel confident but you don't need to sing at all and can follow the words.
What services are there?
There is normally a service of Holy Communion in one of the three churches every week. Holy Communion is the service with the sharing of bread and wine at its centre, in memory of the last supper Jesus had with his disciples before his crucifixion. Harston and Hauxton use the contemporary language version and Newton uses the traditional language version.
The Communion service often includes the “peace” - which is when we acknowledge each others’ presence and contribution to our lives as part of the service. We tend to shake hands with those around us and say “peace be with you” or just “peace”. It might feel awkward if you didn’t join in with this but if you sit down and avoid eye contact people will get the message and leave you alone.
At communion services we invite everyone up to the altar, but you do not have to and are welcome to sit in your place and observe if you like. If you don’t normally receive the bread and wine at church then you are welcome to come up for a blessing from the priest (normally by putting their hand on your head and saying a short prayer). If you would like this, the recognised signal is to keep your hands below the rail and the priest will know what to do. No one will check if you have been confirmed (which is the ceremony that allows you to take the bread and wine) and so you can join in if you like!
We also have services of Morning Prayer, which like Holy Communion has hymns, prayers and a sermon, but does not have the bread and wine. This also has a contemporary language version (Harston and Hauxton) and a traditional language (Newton). Some of its prayers centre on the opportunities offered by the day ahead.
Evensong (or Evening Prayer) is similar in structure to Morning Prayer and is most often held at Newton, using the traditional “prayer book” language. It aims in part to help us reflect and look back on the events and actions of the day which is approaching its end.
Compline is traditionally the last service of the day (following Vespers which was at sunset). It is a quiet said service of reflection.
Are children welcome?
Yes! All ages are welcome and we understand that babies scream at times. Feel free to walk around to comfort your child – often parents will walk around at the back to lull babies back to sleep. You can always leave the church and come back if you want to take them into fresh air. Toddlers are welcome to toddle around the church – don’t feel embarrassed to let them explore, even during the prayers!
Do I have to give money?
Not if you don’t want to. At many of our services we keep the tradition of passing around a plate for a collection during the service. However, many of our congregation give money directly from the bank and so not everyone brings cash to church; you won’t stand out if you simply pass the plate on to the next person or hand it back to the person who gave it to you. (Some people bring a coin just so they can put something in the plate and feel part of the symbolic giving.) We’re grateful if you want to make a donation but please don’t feel you have to;
What do I wear?
Please feel free to wear what you like and feel comfortable in. Some of our congregation (that’s the word for the people attending the service) dress more smartly than others and so you can expect a range from traditional ‘Sunday best’ to smart casual or jeans.
Where do I sit?
Although some of us are creatures of habit and tend to head for the same place each week, there are no set places (except the Vicar and the organist!) and no one will be upset if you sit wherever you like. We suggest that you find a seat about two thirds of the way back so that you can see what other people are doing and be comfortable that you are standing and sitting at the right times. It is likely that you will be sitting next to or near other people, especially at busy services such as at Christmas but there are spaces where you can sit a little apart if you'd be more comfortable doing that.
The three churches have different seating arrangements, with traditional pews at Hauxton and Newton and chairs at Harston. We recommend that you bring your own cushion or other support if you have a bad back.
When should I arrive?
The church will be open at least half an hour before the service. We suggest that you aim to arrive five to ten minutes before the service so that you can settle in before it starts. It’s ok to come in even after the service has started, though some people may feel awkward especially if the only seats are near the front.
What facilities have you got?
None of our churches has a car park. There is plenty of space to park on the road outside Hauxton and Newton. Harston is a little more tricky as it is on the road through to Haslingfield. If you can’t park in front of the church you might be able to park a little way up Button End.
Of our three churches, only Harston has a toilet.
What happens at the end?
After the priest leaves there is normally some music. People tend to sit down for a minute or so and then get up when they are ready. The priest is normally at the door to say goodbye and that’s a good chance to make contact if there is anything you want to talk about – or to make an appointment for a more private conversation.
At some services there will be coffee afterwards which is a chance to meet people and chat. We’d love to get to know you but not everyone wants to stay and talk and you can leave as soon as you like.
And what happens next?
If you find our church is not for you, then of course that’s ok. Thank you for giving it a go. If you would like to come back again you can just turn up whenever you like, whether it’s just for occasional visits or to join us regularly.
If you would like to become more involved by helping with some of the many tasks, then please ask the Vicar and she will point you in the right direction. But you don’t have to – it’s perfectly fine to come along and just be.
We look forward to welcoming you soon.