Worship at St. Andrew's
We are a traditional fellowship but not at all stuck-in-the-mud and we are willing to try new things (the latest has been the introduction of a Service of Healing). We believe that God feeds his people through the Bible, the sacraments, prayer and through one another in fellowship and we aim to be an open and caring Christ-centred community.
Within a traditional framework, based on the Eucharist, we offer a variety of worship opportunities which are described below
On Sundays :
At 8am we hold a traditional Holy Communion service that is based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer originally written by Henry VIII’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, in 1549.
What is this service like ?
It is one of the most stilling experiences of the week, attended by no more than two dozen people who come to sit in the silence a little while before 8am to recollect their thoughts and to sit before God’s presence. It begins with the entrance of the priest, who wears vestments appropriate to the season, and the server and is conducted by the priest from the altar. There is no music or hymns and the language refers to God as ‘Thee’. When bread and wine are given to the communicant each one is referred to as ‘thee’.
Much of the imagery comes from a time when God was thought of as a king and a prayer is said at the beginning for the sovereign (Elizabeth II currently).
There is always an address or sermon which is usually an ‘unpacking’ of the ideas in the New Testament and based on the readings for the day. The prayers follow a set pattern introduced by the words ‘Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here in earth.’
The service ends with one of the greatest pieces of devotional literature that Cranmer ever wrote, The Gloria, and the congregation say this with the priest. In Advent and Lent The Gloria is not said by tradition so that when we reach either Christmas Day or Easter Day it is all the more wonderful to say it again.
The service takes little more than 40 minutes and people may talk to one another and the priest briefly but there is no lingering and no coffee afterwards.
At 10am on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and 5th Sundays, when they occur) we hold a Parish Eucharist based on the Common Worship Order One service in contemporary language that the Church of England introduced in 2000.
What is this service like ?
This service is thought of as our ‘flagship’ and most of our liturgical resources go into making it as lively, relevant and interesting as it is possible for us to make it. We have a lot of lay people taking part and we cater for children as well as adults. The children go out to their own worship and teaching in the Church Hall (connected by a short internal walk from the worship space) during the singing of the first hymn and return when bread and wine are distributed.
The service begins with the singing of a hymn of praise and a procession into church by our robed Choir. Some parts of the service are sung, led by the Choir, and we use two different settings that the congregation can easily follow.
There is always a sermon, based on the readings for the day, and the preacher may be one of the lay team as well as the vicar. Sermons may be given in a visual format, using Powerpoint projection. For example, we have had talks given by members of the congregation who lived in India for three months and have seen photographs of how they lived amongst local people. We have had talks about the conditions under which Palestinian people live with startling photographs. We are open to trying to bring the outside world into this service so that we can better understand the world and engage with it in faith.
After the sermon we have prayers led by members of the congregation and these will include prayers for the sick and those who have recently died.
On 3rd Sundays there may also be a baptism from time to time.
We will then exchange The Peace.
At the invitation to receive Holy Communion many will come to the front but some will receive a blessing rather than bread and wine. The Choir will sing, sometimes using an Anthem or a special piece of music, and sometimes we have instrumental music with no words. The music and hymns are a mix of traditional and contemporary and the hymnal we use is ‘Hymns Old And New’. You might find ‘Lord the light of your love is shining’ is followed by ‘ Let all mortal flesh keep silence.’ We are not a church of purists and this eclectic approach is part of our DNA. If somebody is going into hospital the priest may well anoint them and pray for them at the conclusion of the distribution of bread and wine.
After the notices (in which there might well be the giving of a gift to some member of the congregation with a significant birthday and the singing of ‘Happy Birthday to You’) there will be a feedback time from the children. It is one of our greatest joys to see the children and also to see more and more adults volunteering to teach them about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
After the final hymn there is usually a terrific sound of chatter as people catch up with their friends and make their way into the Hall for coffee. On 2nd Sundays there will be home-made cakes that are sold to support the Choir and on 3rd Sundays there will always be a great Traidcraft Stall where goods from around the world are sold.
At 10am on 1st Sundays we hold a Family Service. This is organised by our Family Service Planning Group (FSPG) and is far less formal in style and is structured around 4 songs or hymns. The heart of the service is the talk which is always interactive so that the children come up and sit on the dais and take part. We are joined by the 1st Shottery Brownies and the atmosphere is light and joyful, and the service lasts about 45 minutes. It is mainly a Service of the Word but at festival times it will be a Eucharist e.g. Harvest, Easter Day or Pentecost. Again, we conclude with coffee and fellowship in the Hall.
At 6.30 pm on 2nd, 3rd, 4th (and 5th Sundays when they occur) we hold a service of Evensong. The Psalm, Nunc Dimittis and Magnificat, Versicles and Responses are all sung, and there is always a sermon and prayers.
The Family Service is held at 10.00am on the first Sunday of each month (except where, for instance, Mothering Sunday falls on a Sunday other than the first in the month.)
This is a lively, informal, all-age service for the whole Church family and it is great to see adults and children enjoying worship, helping to lead it and learning together about faith in Jesus Christ.
In the last couple of years we’ve had a steel band to lead the singing, a ‘This is the Children’s News’ in a service celebrating the Year of the Child’, interviews, power point displays (eg illustrating the work of a church member who taught in India for three months), puppets, and an annual Christingle service.
The Family Service Planning Group puts each service together with the aim being to provide worship that engages all ages and which is upward and outward looking.
Come and join us!
Festivals and Holy Days
We follow the Church Year so that the year begins on Advent Sunday, moving through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity Season, and back to Advent. Punctuated throughout we observe Holy Days such as Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Ascension Day, Corpus Christi and Saints Days when they fall on a Tuesday or Thursday.
Our parish website and parish magazine ‘Searchlight’ give up to date information about all special services.
We hold a said Eucharist every Tuesday evening (with certain exceptions) at 7.30 pm and a said Eucharist with a short address every Thursday (again, with certain exceptions) at 10 am. These services are ideal for those who find a large number daunting and we would love you to join us.
Joining with other churches
We take part in Stratford Churches Together, most notably in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January and in the Good Friday Procession.
The church has disabled access, a toilet designed with wheelchairs in mind, a good PA system and loop and large print books are available. Children and young people are important members of our congregation.