Services at St. Mary’s Church
“We are a people of prayer, learning and growing in faith together.
Our vision is to be a caring and welcoming church family who reach out with the love of God into our local community and world.”
Worship and Services
Worship is at the heart of everything we do as a church community. There are a variety of services on a Sunday and also throughout the week. We attempt to balance traditional with contemporary worship, and would be described as ‘middle of the road’; but rather than something a bit bland, we combine evangelical, charismatic and catholic elements in worship and spirituality (which we think makes us quite unique around here!). We hope there should be something for everyone! If you’d like to find out more about any of our services please contact the Parish Office. Each week our main Parish Eucharist is posted to our YouTube Channel, or you can view it here. Don’t forget to like our videos and subscribe to our channel!
Sunday 8:00am Holy Communion
This is a quieter and more reflective service lasting around 45/50 minutes. There are not usually hymns sung, apart from on special times of the year such as Harvest, Remembrance and Christmas.
The words used are more traditional, and the service is based on the Book of Common Prayer first published in 1549. Although these prayers may be considered by some as ‘traditional’ they were very innovative and daring when first introduced! They were the first prayers ever said in English at parish churches in England. Previous to this, the service would have been said in Latin.
The service is attended by around 40 people. Although children are of course welcome, it is not particularly ‘child friendly’ and there is no Sunday School or special provision for children.
Sunday 9:30am Parish Eucharist
This is the main service on Sunday. ‘Eucharist’ is the Greek word for ‘thanksgiving’ and refers to the Holy Communion (another word used for it) as a service of thanksgiving for the gift of God’s eternal life through Jesus.
It is from the Church of England’s services called ‘Common Worship’ and usually lasts an hour and 15 minutes. Sometimes it is called a ‘Sung Eucharist’ which means that some of the prayers are sung rather than said. Hymns are also sung at this service: a mixture of traditional well known hymns along with contemporary hymns we are still learning. There are three readings followed by a sermon which explains what the readings are about and applies them to God’s word for today.
The children stay in with us for the first ten minutes or so, then go out for their own groups, and join us later when we take Communion.
On the 4th Sunday of the month we have an ‘All Age Service’ when the children stay in for all the service. It is a bit shorter and lighter with songs, readings and a talk which we hope will speak to children as well as adults.
After the service we have tea and coffee in the New Room, and spilling out in to the church, or outside if the weather is nice.
Sunday 11:30am Later Service
This service is more informal than the Parish Eucharist, the minister’s don’t wear robes, and there is a minimum of liturgy. The songs tend to be more contemporary, although we also sing traditional hymns to modern arrangements. Rather than accompanied by the organ, we have a music group to lead the singing.
The service lasts for about an hour and we have a children’s activity during it. Tea and coffee are served at the end.
Sunday 1:30pm Baptisms and Thanksgiving
Because of the large number often attending these services, and because the church is full anyway for the main service, we hold baptisms and thanksgivings as a separate service in the afternoon. Sometimes there are two family groups sharing the service. It usually lasts about 30 minutes, and there are no hymns sung. Parents are invited to the next all age service to receive the child’s certificate and candle and to be welcomed into the church family.
For more information on Baptisms and Thanksgiving Services please visit our dedicated page HERE
Sunday 6:00pm Evening Service.
These are not held every Sunday, so check the notices. They are normally held from April – June; and again from September – November (missing out the coldest winter months and the summer evenings). They are attended between 40 – 60 people, and are not suitable for children.
The evening services have their own special atmosphere. They tend to be more reflective and quiet, and are often by candlelight or subdued lighting. Sometimes recorded music is used along with occasional icons or PowerPoint graphics.
They are more appropriate for committed Christians who are looking for a bit ‘extra’, and this is reflected in the length and content. The evening is normally divided into two parts: the first half is a worship service lasting around 30 minutes. Worship is held in a variety of different styles, ranged from the formal and traditional Choral Evensong, to more informal charismatic type worship with music group. In between there is worship in the Taize or Celtic/Iona styles, or special services created round the theme.
The second half is teaching rather than preaching, and often follows a series.
A thirty minute service of Holy Communion finishing just after 7.00pm, which allows you to do other things that evening. The service is more quiet and reflective, and usually follows the Common Worship Communion Service, though sometimes we have Taize or Iona style Communions. There is normally a ten minute homily and no hymns are sung. It is attended by about 14 people.
Thursdays 9:30am Contemplative Prayer Group
Half an hour of silent contemplation in the north transept. Not doing or speaking; but ‘being’, and in the silence, listening and being open to God’s Spirit. The prayer is preceded by a short reflection from one of the great spiritual writers.
At Portchester Parish Hall, Assheton Court. A service of Holy Communion from Common Worship attended by around 30 people. It lasts around 40 minutes and includes a ten minute homily and a closing hymn. There is tea and coffee served at the end. This service is particularly popular with those who find coming down to the castle on Sundays difficult.
Monday – Friday 9:00am-9:30am
Each morning a few of us gather in the transept to pray the ‘Daily Office’ in keeping with the monastic tradition established in this building 900 years ago. Back then, the monks’ day consisted of seven such services known as ‘offices’. Today we have one – Morning Prayer from Common Worship or a Celtic liturgy. We pray for the needs of the world, the nation, our local community, the church, and also for individual prayer requests.
Other annual services
We celebrate the main Christian Festivals, but in addition we have these annual services:
- Ascension Day – Thursday, 40 days after Easter
- Corpus Christi – Thanksgiving for the Holy Communion
- Patronal Festival (2nd Sunday in September)
- Sea Sunday (2nd Sunday in July)
- Harvest Thanksgiving (last Sunday in September)
- Remembrance Sunday (2nd Sunday in November)
- All Souls service for the bereaved (1st Sunday in November)
Incense is used occasionally, particularly at:
- Epiphany Sunday
- Trinity Sunday
- Patronal Festival
- All Saints Day
- Christmas Eve Eucharist
We are always delighted to welcome new members to the Choir, to our group of Musicians, or onto the Serving team.
Please contact us if you’d like to find out more.