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If you can’t find the answers to your questions please contact one of us. If you wish to speak to the vicar please contact Rev Ian Meredith or alternatively you can contact Wendy Pyatt, our Church administrator.
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Getting married at St Mary’s Church, Portchester Castle
Although many couples choose to live together first, people still feel strongly that marriage is important, and many couples still aspire to it. Getting married is the best way to cement your relationship, and for most people, this makes them happier and more secure together. There is something about making vows in public that makes it more likely you will stay together. If you marry in church, your family, your friends and God promise to support you.
St Mary’s is a Grade A listed building; a 12th century Norman church which was at one time the church of a small monastery (a priory), and since the 16th century has been the parish church of Portchester. Through the lych gate many brides and their maids have gathered, and within its ancient walls thousands of couples have made their vows to God.
Who can be married at St Mary’s?
- Anyone who lives within the parish of Portchester
- Any member of St Mary’s Church (wherever they live) if they are on the roll of members called ‘The Electoral Roll.’
- Anyone with a ‘Qualifying Connection’ to the parish (Examples: grand parents or parents married here, or lived in Portchester; baptised at St Mary’s, etc. Rather than give the full list here, please contact the parish office).
Divorce is not necessarily a bar to being married at St Mary’s, but you would be required to have a (friendly) chat with the Vicar first.
Wedding Preparation evening
Several times in the year we put on a special marriage preparation evening in which we invite couples to the church where we go through the service. It will also give you a chance to meet the organist and clergy as well as discuss flower arrangements.
Reading of Banns
The reading of ‘Banns of Marriage’ is a legal requirement for your marriage to take place. It is necessary for them to be called at St Mary’s and, if either one of you lives in another parish, at that parish also.
At some time in the week before the wedding, the minister conducting your service will hold a rehearsal for you. This is normally early on a Wednesday or Thursday evening. It would be helpful for these people to come: bride, person giving her away, bridesmaids, groom and best man.
The service itself
- Our organist/Director of Music will be pleased to work with you in choosing music for the bride to come down the aisle to, and for the couple to walk back up to. Several suggestions are on most wedding websites, and a selection will be played at the wedding preparation. You may also wish to play a special CD while the register is being signed.
- You don’t have to sing any hymns, but if you do, they are your choice. These tend to be well known, or special wedding words set to well known tunes. Again most sites have these listed and we can also advise you on this.
- Wedding vows. There are certain words which must be said by law, and certain bits of the Church of England’s liturgy must be used, but these can be incorporated into words you might also like to say to each other. The Vicar welcomes couples who wish to have a greater input into the order of service.
- We require at least one reading to be from the Bible, and we will offer suggestions. You may have as a second reading, a poem or another piece of wedding/love literature.
- Other people taking part. One of the clergy from St Mary’s will conduct the ceremony, but you might want to involve other friends and family members to do readings, prayers etc. If you live outside the parish and have a realistic church connection, it might be possible to have your own minister take part.
We are happy for your official photographer to take photographs (but not flash photographs) throughout the ceremony, and from any part of the church. Photographers have been impressed at St Mary’s good attitude over this. One local photographer, Martin Bell, put on his site: ‘Special praise must go to St Mary’s Church for the freedom I had to get the photographs the couple desperately wanted, this rarely happens in churches and myself and the couple are all very grateful.’
Getting married at St Mary’s is cheaper than you think. The total cost is around £600, depending on whether you want extras, like bells, choir, printing etc. There is a non-returnable deposit of £50 required when booking. The church office will send you an invoice for the balance nearer the time.
Simple or grand
Most weddings are quite grand affairs with lots of people, music, specially hired suits and dresses, all of which may have been planned for years. However, some people might prefer a simpler and quieter ceremony. We are happy to provide a more intimate event, and the minimum number of people present (apart from the bride and groom) would just be two witnesses.
Religious or not?
We encourage you to have a religious ceremony rather than a civil one. This does not mean that you are declaring yourself to be a very religious person! You don’t need to have been baptised or christened or attend church regularly. It simply means that you feel that having your marriage in church, and making your vows before God, will add an extra spiritual dimension not just to the day, but to your married life.
The Church of England believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, and we are not able to offer same-sex weddings or blessings. However, all people, regardless of their sexuality, are welcome to be part of the community of St Mary’s Church.
St Mary’s Church is not just a building, it is home to a vibrant and growing Christian community. Although quite full on a Sunday morning, we can always make room for some more! We welcome you to attend our services, particularly on the Sundays when your banns are read. Many couples after their wedding have settled with us and made St Mary’s their church.
If you would like to know any more please contact us:
Vicar: Rev Ian Meredith Tel: 02392 375422
St Mary’s Church Office, Portchester Parish Hall, Assheton Court, Portchester, PO16 9PY. Tel: 02392 321380
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or Service of Thanksgiving
St Mary’s Parish Church,
At St Mary’s Church we would love to ask God’s blessing on your child and to receive them into the family of the Church.
We want to assure you of our welcome, and that we will do everything possible to make this happen and to be part of a joyful day of celebrating the new life God has entrusted you with.
You can have your child baptised (or christened, as some people call it) at St Mary’s if you:
- live within the parish of Portchester. Check with the church office if in doubt. The parish boundary to the west is Ashtead Close and to the east, Portsdown Road;
- are on the Electoral Roll of St Mary’s Church. That is, you are already part of our congregation;
- live outside the parish, but have a connection with St Mary’s, and there is the realistic possibility of an ongoing pastoral relationship with us.
- live outside the parish, but intend to be part of your local parish church. (We would as a courtesy inform the vicar of your parish, so that they can offer you ongoing support and fellowship).
Baptism is a sacrament of the Church, and one in which you promise before God that you believe certain things and will bring your child up accordingly:
- that you will encourage, by your example, your child to be part of a worshiping Christian community;
- that you believe in the existence of God and the basic truths of Christianity;
- that you believe that through Jesus Christ, a new start is possible, and that through his love we can turn from all that is wrong, and live for all that is good.
It is therefore important that you know what you are ‘signing up to’ before you make a definite commitment and arrangements.
Firstly, we would like you to attend a four part course called ‘Exploring Baptism’ which is held three times a year. The next course will be in May 2018, to apply for this course or for more details please contact the Parish Office on 02392 321380. At this informal gathering, we will explain what Baptism means; take you through the service, and explain the role of Godparents. You will be given a folder with more information.
We would ask that you do not book a venue for a reception or choose Godparents until we have had the chance to meet and explain what is involved.
We would also like one of the clergy or pastoral team to visit you at home to get to know you a bit better, explain more about what is involved and answer any questions.
Baptisms are normally held on the second and third Sundays of the month at 12.30pm and last about half an hour. There are normally two children baptised at each service. We will also invite you to our all-age service on the fourth Sunday of the month, when your child will be welcomed into the church family and given a baptism certificate and candle.
Service of Thanksgiving
It may be that in all honesty you cannot go along with all that will be asked of you in the Baptism service, but you still want God’s blessing on your child. We have another service which is called a ‘Thanksgiving.’ This is very similar to a baptism, but the promises you make are a lot simpler – basically:
‘Do you give thanks to God for this child, and promise to surround him/her with love and goodness?’
Water and oil are not used, but the child is blessed. You can have ‘godparents’ at this service, but they are technically called ‘supporting friends.’ These services are held on the first or last Sunday of the month at 12.30pm and last for about half an hour.
This service is not ‘second best’. It can often be the best – certainly the more honest! Many committed Christians who do not believe in infant baptism, also find that this service is preferable for their child.
There is no fee or cost for any of these services, but we have a retiring offering for those who would like to give something.
Children and families at St Mary’s
At the ‘Exploring Baptism’ evening, as well as telling you about the services of baptism and thanksgiving, we will tell you about what St Mary’s has to offer children and their families. Basically:
- A child-friendly all-age worship on the fourth Sunday of each month.
- Children are welcome every Sunday, and after the first 10 minutes they go out into another room for their own activities (Junior Church), and join us at the end for Communion.
- Parents are welcome to keep their children with them during the whole service, and we have no objection to being aware of the presence of children in church. Most parents exercise common sense and are sensitive to the needs of the other worshippers, and so take their children out for a few minutes if the children are too noisy and disruptive.
- St Mary’s Lambs is a parent (and grandparent!) and toddlers group which meets in the New Room at the church every Wednesday during term from 10.30am – 12.00noon. There are also occasional outings and social events for the parents.
- At Christmas we have special children’s service like ‘Christingle’ and the ‘Nativity Service’ on Christmas Eve, as well as a summer holiday club.
- We also have more family/children-friendly activities such as ‘Messy Church’ and Kidz Klub.
If you are interested in any of this, please contact the Parish Office at Portchester Parish Hall, Assheton Court, Portchester, PO16 9PY.
Office hours: Monday – Friday 9.30am – 2.30pm. Tel: 02392 321380
Vicar: Rev Ian Meredith Tel: 02392 375422
Funerals in the Church of England
A funeral marks the close of a human life on earth. It is the opportunity for friends and family to express their grief, to give thanks for the life of someone at the end of their Journey in this world and to commend them into God’s keeping.
The Funeral service of the Church of England can be simple and quiet with only a few members of the family present or an occasion of great solemnity with music, hymns and a packed church. It may take place in a parish church or a crematorium chapel, and may come from the Prayer Book or from Common Worship.
Whatever the pattern of service, the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to him of every human being, and, in particular, the person you love who has died.
Everyone has a right to a funeral in the Church of England church in their parish, whether or not they were a churchgoer. Parish clergy see the taking of funerals as an important part of their work and will gladly give their time to talk to those who are facing loss, to be with them in their pain, and to help to arrange whatever kind of funeral service is most appropriate.
What happens in the Funeral service?
It may be helpful to look at the general order of events.
Entry of the coffin
Traditionally, the minister meets the coffin at the door of the church or crematorium, or at the graveyard gate, and leads the procession, saying some reassuring words from the Bible, such as:
‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ says the Lord. ‘Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’
Alternatively, the coffin may be brought into church some time before the service (sometimes on the day before), or the mourners may be seated first: these options avoid processing behind the coffin, which some find distressing, as well as giving time to pray quietly before the service.
Welcome and introduction
The minister welcomes those present, introduces the service and says a prayer. Then there might be a hymn, and a tribute spoken about the person who has died. This might be done by members of the family or friends, or by the minister using notes supplied by the family. Sometimes symbols of the person’s life and faith are placed on or near the coffin as part of this. The coffin may also be sprinkled with the water of baptism.
This is followed by a prayer for forgiveness – a sense of letting someone down is often an unspoken thought in people’s minds.
Readings and sermon
A psalm – perhaps ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ – follows and there are readings telling of God’s care and of the hope of eternal life. The sermon brings these great Christian beliefs about life beyond death into focus in the context of this particular death, bringing comfort and strength to the mourners.
In the prayers we give thanks for the life of the person who has died and pray for God’s presence with those who mourn. The Lord’s Prayer may follow.
Commendation and Farewell
The minister stands by the coffin and, if appropriate, the mourners may gather round too. A period of silence leads into the prayer of commendation, in which the person who has died is entrusted to the love and mercy of God.
If burial is to take place in the churchyard, or local cemetery, the committal takes place at the graveside. The mourners gather round the open grave into which the coffin is lowered and they hear the words:
‘We now commit his/her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.’ Handfuls of earth may then be scattered on the coffin.
If cremation is to follow a service in church, the words of committal may either be said in church before the hearse leaves or in the crematorium itself. The words may be accompanied by the coffin moving slowly out of sight, or the closing of a curtain to hide it from view.
The committal can be a very emotional moment, but many who are suffering grief find that, even in their sadness, the words of prayer can lift them towards the experience of Christian hope in the knowledge of life beyond death.
After the funeral
People who have lost someone close to them are often so busy with practical details and arrangements between the death and the funeral that they do not experience the full sense of their loss until later.
Grieving is a natural and important part of coming to terms with and healing this loss and it may continue for a long time. Your parish clergy are always willing to try to help. You will often find that it is those who have suffered a close bereavement themselves, clergy or lay people, who can most easily offer comfort and support to those who mourn. Sometimes the prayers from the service, a few of which are on this leaflet, may help us find comfort in the promises of Jesus Christ.
Heal the memories of hurt and failure. Give us the wisdom and grace to use aright the time that is left to us here on earth, to turn to Christ and follow in his steps in the way that leads to everlasting life.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help at this difficult time or to enquire about arranging a funeral or burial of ashes, please contact the Parish Office (see our ‘Contact’ page for further details).
What Christians believe(Christians believe the spiritual side of life is of vital importance)