But I've never been to church before......!!
We appreciate that coming to church for the first time – or even to a new church – can be a daunting experience.
All of us were new here at some time, and we’d like to reassure you that you will be very welcome and that there is no need to feel awkward or embarrassed.
When you first arrive, you will be greeted by a “sidesperson” (steward) whose job it is to make you welcome and to give you the various books and leaflets that you will need for the service.
You’re welcome to sit on any seat which doesn’t have a “Reserved” notice on it. (We usually only have reserved seats for very important services). If you’re attending St Mary’s, Broughton Astley, we would encourage you if possible to sit on the south side of the church (the side opposite the main entrance) facing the high altar. Here you will be able to see what happens in the service, and will feel part of what is going on. At Croft and Stoney Stanton, the pulpit and altar are easily visible from most seats.
Amongst the books you are given on arrival will be a service booklet. The service should follow the order in this booklet, and the person leading the service will 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.
Most of our services are a celebration of Holy Communion (also sometimes called The Lord’s Supper, The Eucharist or Mass). Whatever Christian denomination you belong to, if you 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. If you come to the altar rail holding a hymn book or a 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 will be a less formal “Family Service”, and you may prefer to try this as your first experience of the church. (See “Service Times” for details.)
We have a collection at all 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 special envelopes that you will find in the pews and filling in the details on the back. This enables us to get an additional percentage of your gift back from the Government! 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.
Tea and Coffee is usually served after the main Sunday morning service, and we would be delighted if you could join us. Again, however, this is entirely up to you. The priest will usually be at the door to say goodbye as you leave. 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 anything – we just like to be able to say hello and to know who has been with us on a Sunday morning!
Finally, all three of our churches have toilet and baby-changing facilities and these are suitable for use by disabled people. At Broughton Astley and Stoney Stanton, these facilities are at the back of the church; at Croft they are near the front, just through the door to the left of the pulpit. Please ask for assistance if you need it.
All three churches have an induction loop for the hard of hearing.
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 the Rector or the parish office Parish Office and we will gladly arrange for someone to meet you, show you round and answer any further questions that you may have.
We hope to meet you soon!