Many people today are unsure about church, and given the image some churches give off, that is not surprising. At All Saints’, we try and continually assess how we present ourselves so that individuals may feel less self-conscious and out of place. We truly want our church to be a church for everyone from every background and situation. At the same time, we also want our church to be a proper Christian community where everyone can be themselves. Creating a culture where everyone can be who they are, is no easy thing, but that is always our aspiration. That is why at the heart of our inclusive approach sits the Eucharist.
At the heart of church life is worship, and the most authentic for of worship is the Eucharist (a Greek word meaning Thanksgiving). This is the one thing that Jesus commanded us to continue when he said ‘do this in remembrance of me’. So, all over the world, the Eucharist is the central act of Christian worship.
So as a church that is open to all, our time together is centred around the Eucharistic table, the Altar. The remarkable thing about the Eucharist is that once we kneel at the Altar rail, we are all equal in God’s sight. As He blesses us with the supreme gift of His Son in the appearance of Bread and Wine, He blesses us all the same. It does not matter in God’s eyes if we are rich or poor, what nationality, age, gender, sexuality, race, social standing, class or educational background. As we receive the Eucharist, God’s gift of unity, we all become one in the Body of His Son. We are all partakers in the feast. This radical equality is not the case in any other situation, work, sport, recreation. Everywhere we go and everything we do has certain barriers, except the Eucharist. Even other styles of worship normally exclude on grounds of experience, or education, or background, unintentional as it may be. But in the Eucharist, the Celebrant, standing behind the centre of the altar, draws all the elements of the service together, and offers the Eucharistic prayer on behalf of the people. The Eucharist is the people’s prayer for unity and God answers that in the gifts of bread and wine.
Our primary act of worship on Sunday mornings is the Parish Eucharist at 9.30 am, which is a Sung Eucharist with good quality music in accompaniment. Young people of all ages are welcome. And there is no fixed model. They may stay in church and absorb the mystery and awe of the celebration, or they may attend our crèche, Kingfishers (primary age) and Heaven Groups (secondary and up) during the first half of the Eucharist. Following the service, we extend our common life together and share in a bit a social gathering where there is tea and coffee in the church hall.
It is our hope that people will be built up in faith through the Parish Eucharist and will be strengthened in their vocation as Christians through the coming week.
There is also an earlier celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday mornings at 8.00 am. This is a traditional said service, using the form of Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer. This is a quiet and contemplative service.
On Wednesday mornings at 10.00 am there is a mid-week Eucharist which is also followed by a social gathering of tea and coffee in our Old Church Nave.
The Church is open from Mondays to Fridays at 9.00 am and Saturdays at 9.30 am for Morning Prayer. The New Testament leaves us in ‘no doubt that we should pray regularly. Our Lord taught us by word and example that we should pray continually and never lose heart’ (St Luke Chapter 18 verse 1) A small number of people join the Vicar for our services of Morning Prayer and it is our aspiration that more people will do so in the future.
Throughout the year there are services on many Sunday evenings of the month; every second Sunday is Compline Night Prayer, third Sundays alternate between Taize, Celtic, Lucernarium and Sacramental Healing Services.
Choral Evensongs are held to mark significant events in the Church’s year, such as Harvest, All Saints Day and Candlemas.
The cycles of Church liturgy and worship help to form us into the people God wishes us to be. These cycles and routines are helpful, especially during those times in life when we feel a little lost or empty. Engaging in all the annual cycles of the Christian year has a remarkable effect on moving our apathy to a place of deep contentment and joy.
We are a people on a journey, but at this moment we have a you-shaped whole in our number. We want you to join us. Every new person that enters our door is a real gift and blessing from God. So please join us as we worship our compassionate and loving God together.
P.S. Once you have visited our services we would love to hear from you if you have an aspiration for baptism or a marriage at All Saints’.