What to expect at St Gabriel’s!
If you’ve never been to a service at St Gabriel’s you might be worried about a few things, so here are the answers to some questions that may help:
Before the service
When are the services?
The main service at St Gabriel’s is at 9:30am on a Sunday morning.
Can I just walk in?
Yes! Everyone is welcome.
Can I park at the church?
Yes, there is parking in the road by the Church.
Can I bring the kids?
Yes! Children are very welcome – and we have activities just for them and there’s a safe and friendly creche area in church with books and soft toys which you can use during the service.
I use a wheelchair – can I get in?
Yes! We have ramp access into church and no steps within the church. We have chairs at St Gabriel’s so we can easily remove one of them.
What should I wear?
There’s no dress code. Some people feel more comfortable dressing smartly for church, others prefer to come along in jeans and trainers.
How long will the service be?
It depends what kind of service it is. The Holy Communion service lasts 1 hour whereas Morning Prayer is usually shorter.
Can I leave if I want to?
Obviously, we hope you’ll want to stay – but of course you may get up and leave at any point if you wish.
Do I need to bring anything?
No. However, we do take a collection (usually during the third hymn). This is because it costs £400 a month to keep the church running and that nearly all comes from the congregation – we have no central funding. It’s usual practice to give a contribution at this point in the service – it’s up to you how much.
I don’t know if I’m a Christian – does that matter?
No – all are welcome, whatever stage you’re at in your thoughts about Christianity
What happens inside?
What happens when I walk in?
You’ll be given a smile, a welcoming hello, and a service sheet, hymn book and notice sheet.
Where do I sit?
Pretty much anywhere you like. St Gabriel’s is very small with only about 24 chairs set out. So choose one where you will feel comfortable.
Will anyone speak to me?
Hopefully yes! We do try and give a friendly hello to anyone new – it helps us if you let us know it’s your first time.
What happens in the Service?
How do I know when to stand up and sit down?
The service sheet will indicate this and usually the person leading the service will remind you, but if they forget, a good tip is to watch what others do.
And how do I know when we are supposed to say something aloud?
It will be printed in bold in the service sheet
What if I don’t know the hymns?
Don’t worry – we usually sing unaccompanied as we dont have anyone to play the piano or organ. Try and join in as it goes along. No one will mind if you don’t sing.
Who is the Vicar? Who else takes services?
Elaine is the Vicar, Alec is a curate (he’s got L plates), Sandra is the assistant minister and Glenys is a retired minister. Peter and Michael are licensed lay readers who can take Morning Prayer services.
Does it matter if my baby makes a noise?
Not at all – we know babies make noises and we love to have them with us. If you need to stand up with your baby and walk around there’s plenty of room at the back of church. There’s also room to bring your buggy into church and have it near you if your baby is asleep.
Can my kids join in?
Yes! We love having children in church with us.
Should I kneel down for the prayers?
You can if you’d like, but the floor is really hard! Most people just sit quietly in their seats, heads bowed, during prayers.
Will the sermon be long and boring?
No! Most of the sermons are about 10 minutes and most are really quite interesting, usually based on the Bible reading for the day, and often including day-to-day issues.
Why are some people ignoring the collection plate?
Some of the congregation may be paying directly through their bank and so don’t put money on the plate each week. Some people put in special coloured envelopes with their contribution in. If you decide to come regularly and want to give in either of these ways, ask one of the stewards or wardens.
Help – people are shaking hands – what do I do?
At the ‘Peace’ the person leading the service will say ’let us offer one another a sign of peace’. Here we shake hands with those around us – each time saying ‘peace be with you’. Some people leave their seats to shake hands with those around them. You’re welcome to stay in your place, or move around, as you prefer. It’s usual to shake hands with others. It may seem a bit odd at first but most people get to enjoy it – it’s rather a happy time with even the little children joining in.
Should I go up during the communion?
Please do. Everyone is invited to take communion. If you have been through a Confirmation service, or usually take communion in other churches, you are invited to take communion (the bread and wine). If not, you are most welcome to come up for a blessing. When you get up there, just hold your hands down so that the minister knows you have come for a blessing, not communion. If you prefer to stay in your seat, that’s fine.
How do I know the service has ended?
The minister will give a blessing and then walk down the aisle to the doors at the back of church. People will sit down, and sometimes will spend a few moments in a quiet prayer before getting up.
What happens after the service?
Should I stay for coffee?
Yes, please do! Coffee and tea are served in the church itself after services so we do hope you’ll stay around for a while. Let us know you’re new. We try very hard to make sure all are welcome, so you won’t be left on your own!
What should I do with the notice sheet?
Take it home and read the notices and forthcoming events. The notice sheet also has all the Bible readings on the other side so you can refresh your memory.
I’d like to come regularly – should I tell someone?
It’s always good for us to know if someone is new, and especially if they feel they would like to come regularly. Let one of the stewards know, or tell one of the clergy. But you can just keep coming along if you prefer – we’ll notice!