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There are many reasons why you might want to attend a church service for the first time. Maybe you’ve recently moved into the area; maybe you’ve been invited to a wedding at our church and you’d like to come prepared on the day; maybe you'd like help following a bereavement or separation. Or perhaps you’ve simply grown tired of the empty commercialism on offer today and seek a spiritual dimension to your life.
Whatever the reason, you may be apprehensive about visiting Plumtree church and be unsure of what you’ll find. This page aims to answer some of your questions.
If the church door is closed, does that mean I've called at a bad time?
No. In the winter especially, we close the church door to keep the heat IN, not our congregation OUT. So simply lift the latch, give the door a good push and come inside.
St Mary's is usually open for private prayer between 9.30 am - 4.00 pm in Autumn and Winter and 9.30 am - 5.30 pm in Spring and Summer. Click HERE for more details of service times and events.
OK, I'm inside, what happens next?
If you are attending a service, you’ll be greeted just inside the door by two people (called 'sidespersons') who will offer you a hymn book, a service booklet and any other items you’ll need for the service. If you ask them, they can direct you to a suitable seat, otherwise feel free to sit anywhere.
What sort of services do you hold in the church?
Briefly, services fall into two types: a Eucharist (where the congregation is invited to take communion) and other services at which communion isn’t offered. Have a look at details of our Regular Services.
Can I take communion?
You can take communion at St Mary's if you're a confirmed member of any Christian faith. Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which you affirm for yourself the faith into which you have been baptized and your intention to live a life of committed discipleship.
If you aren't confirmed, you're wecome to come to the altar rail during communion for a blessing.
If you're interested being confirmed, please contact one of our Churchwardens, Tony Darby.
Which type of service would be best for me?
Obviously it’s an individual choice, but a Sunday morning Sung Eucharist service will let you experience the full range of activities that take place during a typical church service. Have a look at details of our Regular Services.
How will I know what to do during the service?
If you’re totally new to church, you may prefer to sit towards the back so you can observe everything that goes on and let the actions of regular churchgoers show you when to join in with the service. The main opportunities for audience participation are:
- prior to hymns and the prayers, the Rector instructs the whole congregation when to stand, when to sit, when to pray;
- there will be a collection during the 'offertory hymn'. The collection plate is passed along each pew in turn, you add your offering to the plate and pass it to the next person. Unless announced otherwise, the collection is for the work and maintenance of the church;
- during a Eucharist service you'll be invited up to the altar rail to take communion (which you're entitled to do if you are a committed and confirmed member of any Christian tradition). If you'd like a blessing instead, simply take your service sheet up to the altar with you to let the Rector know.
Remember that if you would simply like to sit at the back of church for a few services and not take part at all, we'll still be very pleased to see you.
Can I bring my young children to a service?
Yes – no-one minds small children wandering about during the service, and we encourage them to join in. You can sit with them in a pew or in the children's corner at the back of the church.
What facilities are there for children?
We have a dedicated children's corner equipped with soft toys, books, paper and crayons, a low table with stools, and big cushions. Elsewhere in church there are baby-changing facilities and a toilet.
Can children become involved in the services?
Yes, we often invite older more confident children to lead the prayers and read the lessons.
How long do the services last?
Most Sunday services (morning and evening) are about an hour long. The Wednesday morning services last about half an hour.
Do all services follow the same pattern?
Although they are based on the order of services laid down by the Church of England, we add variety to our services by occasionally asking the choir to sing anthems, inviting guest preachers and having more niche services such as 'A Touch of Taizé', and Matins. There are also our seasonal Special Services.
What happens after the service?
After morning services, you’ll be encouraged to stay behind for tea/coffee (or squash for children) and biscuits with the rest of the congregation. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself to the church team and chat to people.
I have mobility problems, can I still attend a service?
The main path from Church Hill to the church porch is suitable for wheelchairs; also there are no steps into the church. The main part of the church, including the toilet, is fully wheelchair accessible.
There is one step up to the chancel (where we take communion), however the Rector is happy to bring communion to your pew or wheelchair if necessary; just let a sidesperson know.
The church is fitted with a hearing loop system.
What if I decide that attending church isn't for me after all?
You certainly won’t be put under any pressure to continue coming to the church. But, if you’d like to talk about it, any member of the St Mary's team (see Who's Who) would be happy to chat with you.
What if I would like to become involved in Plumtree Church life?
The functioning of any church depends on its willing volunteers, so you'll be able to choose from a whole range of tasks. See Get Involved for more details.
Who do I get in touch with if I want to know more?
Contact a member of our team (see Who’s Who).