HELP – I’m not used to church!

If you are not used to church, then this page is meant to be helpful.  If you have a question which it doesn’t answer, please use the contact form to ask!

Where can I park?
We don’t have our own car park, please use the main car park just along St James Street.

What time should I arrive?
It’s normal to arrive about 10 minutes before the service time – we do try to start on time, and that will allow you to settle. (Please arrive in church 15-20 minutes before a wedding)

What should I wear?
If you are coming to a wedding, baptism or funeral, then you probably want to dress up a bit. For a normal service, please wear what is comfortable.

What happens as I go through the door?
You will normally be greeted by someone who will give you whatever hymn book and service sheet you need. If you need bigger print, please say.  Once you have your books, it’s helpful if you tell the person greeting you that it’s your first time, and they should find someone you can sit with. If you prefer to sit alone, that’s fine too. Please find somewhere you are happy to sit.

Will I be told what to do?
Yes, you will be invited to stand, sit and kneel at the right times in the service. If you can’t follow the instructions, that’s fine, no-one will mind if you sit while everyone else stands. Your service sheet should have clear instructions. If in doubt, watch the people in front of you.

What is in the service book?
Most of the words used in the service are in your service book (unless you are at a funeral or wedding, in which case no-one expects you to know what to do).  In the service book you will see some words printed in bold type. These are words that everyone in the congregation says out loud together. The service booklets are designed to make the service easy to follow. If you get lost, please ask someone nearby, an they will help you.

What are the numbers all about?
No, it’s not bingo or a raffle – it’s the numbers of the hymns (songs).  Each hymn in the hymn book is numbered to make them easy to find.

I don’t know any hymns/I can’t sing – does it matter?
No. It really doesn’t.  Most of our hymns have several verses, so by the end you will have picked the tune up. Hymns (and everything else in a church service) are there for the glory of God, who won’t mind what you sound like!

Is there a toilet?
The nearest toilet is in the Church Hall, which will normally be available during a 10 am Sunday service.

When can I leave?
It’s normal to stay in a church service until after the final blessing (you can tell when that is because the person leading the service will walk out of church after it). But if you are really uncomfortable, either physically, or with what you are experiencing, then you are of course free to leave quietly. If you do leave, it is likely that a regular member of the congregation will slip out after you to check you are OK.  They aren’t trying to force you back, they are checking that you don’t need help!

If something happens in church which does make you uncomfortable, please contact the Rector. We try to be welcoming to everyone, so anything which happens to worry or frighten you is unintentional. Equally, if we can do something to make you more physically comfortable please tell us. (Pews just aren’t comfortable, and there isn’t very much we can do about that!)

How accessible is the church to wheelchair users?
The main part of the church is easily accessed via a permanent ramp. If you cannot climb steps to the altar rail then we will be glad to bring communion to you or come to you to give you a blessing.

But my children won’t sit still
No, nor will most of the children who are part of our community! Children are welcome to come and wander at will, although if they are small, it helps if a carer wanders with them to keep them safe on steps and from sharp pew ends. There are some toys and books provided at the back of the church, where there is a small area available for playing.

What if I want to know more about Christianity?
We run groups regularly at St James to talk about our faith and to learn more together. Please talk to the Rector to find out more.

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