What to expect

Full congregation singing

The congregation at our reopening service in January 2011

We are an inclusive congregation – young and old; single, married or divorced; people of every race, language, sexual persuasion all can feel at home.

Our Sunday services, which are at 1045 and 1830* are led by a variety of preachers, and usually last about an hour. Tea and coffee are served afterwards in the church hall. Newcomers do not need to bring a fully-found faith in God. Indeed, the doubts and questions of people feeling their way towards faith can help us all.

* Except for the third Sunday of each month when we meet at 1900 at St Luke’s Church for their Iona Service.

Music

Our main hymnbook is Singing the Faith. We also have Hymns and Psalms, including a Braille edition. We have a copyright licence to reproduce words from other sources.

Resources used in worship

Holy Communion is celebrated once a month during morning service and usually once a month during an evening service. For Communion services we use the Methodist Worship Book, or Iona liturgies or other published or non-published resources.

The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV) can be found in the pews. There are two large print copies available on request from the door steward.

We regularly use our projector and encourage ministers and local preachers to work with our team to prepare the songs, images or video clips as required. We have a new audio system and audio loop.

Holy Communion

Holy Communion is very important in the Methodist church and the monthly frequency makes it a special service. Everyone is welcome to participate in all of our worship and so at Communion everyone is invited to come to the front and kneel with others at the Communion rail. If you raise your hands you will receive a small piece of bread and a small glass of non-alcoholic wine. Or you may wish not to receive the bread and wine but instead receive a blessing – usually the minister will place his or her hand on your head and pray words of blessing.

Everyone is welcome and so our children are also invited to receive the bread and wine, if their parents so wish. We are happy to have a variety of practices within our church.

Accessibility

Wheelchair access to the church is via the main entrance from the car park. There is a lift between the church and church hall.

A public address system is used during services and there is a loop system for the hard-of-hearing.

We have a Braille edition of the worship book, which is available on request from the door steward. For children, there is a special edition of the communion service with pictures.

Junior Church

Children of all ages are extremely welcome at Castle Street. Most Sundays, we run a Junior Church group for children age 3 plus (or younger ones with an adult). Everyone starts off in the church together, then after the second hymn the children are invited to go upstairs for storytelling and creative activities.  We follow a programme called ‘Godly Play’ which centres on telling a Bible story, taking time to discuss and ‘wonder’ about the story, then giving children the opportunity to respond through play or creative activities, before we end by sharing in a ‘feast’ of fruit.

About once a month (typically the Second Sunday) we have a service of all-age worship, when children are invited to stay in church with the adults for the whole service.  These services are designed to be inclusive, with lots of activity and not too much talking!  There may be craft activities provided at the back of the church.

In school holidays, we often run Godly Play storytelling sessions as special events.  Do look out for publicity about these, and contact us if your child is interested in attending.

The parable of the mustard seed told through Godly Play

Ecumenical Links

We enjoy strong links with the other congregations that form Church at Castle and often join together for United Services.

FAQ

What should I wear to church?

Anything you like! Some of our members still come to church very smartly dressed (suit and tie but no hats for the ladies), others of us wear our suits during the week and are glad to come in jeans and T-shirts. We also wear traditional African dress, student hoodies, homemade jumpers and perhaps a dressing-up costume (if you are part of our Junior Church!)

What time should I arrive and how long does the service last?

Our worship starts at 1045; some people will arrive early to prepare the building, but most arrive between 1035 and 1045. Oh, and if you’re late, don’t worry – you won’t be the last person to arrive, there’s always someone after you!

For the evening service, most people arrive between 1815 and 1830.

The service lasts on average one hour. An all-age service (usually the first Sunday of the month) may be a bit shorter. Services of Holy Communion tend to be a bit longer (approx. 75 minutes).

Coffee, tea and biscuits are served after each service, and if you stop and chat, then you could be at church for a further 30-45 minutes – but that is entirely up to you!

Who leads the service?

The welcome is always given by a member of the church who is the duty-steward. The leader of the service may be our minister or a Local Preacher. Local Preachers are not ordained and have been trained by the Methodist Church as preachers – they come from all backgrounds and across all ages. This variety of preachers is a rich strength of Methodism as Local Preachers are well-placed to make connections between their secular lives and the Gospel message. The names of all the preachers are published in advance and can be found in the Calendar of Events.