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Many members at St. Paul’s are involved in acts of service on a regular basis. There is a wide variety of ministries that assist in worship, welcome, maintenance and outreach. Brief descriptions are given below.
In the first instance these descriptions are provided as both information for, and encouragement to, our congregation in order that as many as possible can have the opportunity of using their gifts to the glory of God. Any member of St. Paul’s wishing to find out more, or to offer their services, can contact either the vicar or one of our churchwardens.
If you are not a member of St. Paul’s yet would like to know more about any of these ministries you are very welcome to contact the vicar.
Those involved in this ministry are first of all endorsed by the PCC and then authorised for three years (renewable) by the Bishop of Bedford. Training is provided by the vicar. Although mainly assisting with the chalice, they may also assist with the distribution of the consecrated bread. There is no rota, but those authorised may be asked to assist as required.
Reading the first (occasionally both) of the lessons during our morning services. There is a rota on which each person reads about once every two months. Readings are usually from the brass lectern in the sanctuary but occasionally from the wooden lectern at the front. We use the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.
Cleaning and polishing the brass cross on the credence, two brass candlesticks on the communion table, the brass cross by the prayer corner, the church letterbox and the St. Paul’s plaque outside the main door. Materials are provided. Frequency depends on how quickly the brass tarnishes and becomes dull.
Providing accompaniment for the singing of hymns by playing the appropriate CD and track as required using the CD player at the back of Church. At present, this happens once a month in a morning service of Family Communion. Hymns and tunes are chosen several days in advance (usually by the vicar) so there is plenty of time to prepare.
Setting out chairs in time for Sunday services. This is done the day before. However, there needs to be some flexibility of time depending on whether the hall is in use. Some lifting and carrying is necessary. A trolley is available. Nevertheless, the stacks of chairs can be quite heavy to move. Also, the partition must be taken back and chairs provided for the Children’s Church and Crèche rooms.
Setting out the hall for weekday use. This is done on Monday morning or afternoon. Chairs are stacked and put away in the chair store, the partition is closed and the wooden chairs are set out in the Chapel. The Creche and Children’s Church rooms are readied for weekday use. As in (a) above, some moving of stacks of chairs is needed.
Meets during services on Sunday mornings. A variable number of children of a variety of ages. The aim is for leaders and helpers to provide a secure, nurturing environment in which to learn more of God and of our Christian faith. All who work with our children must fulfil the requirements of our Safeguarding Policy. Children leave during the first hymn and return in time for a blessing at the communion rail.
Principally vacuuming, dusting and polishing the sanctuary. Materials are provided. There is a rota with each person/couple doing the cleaning once an month. Access to the Church can be arranged to suit.
Washing, ironing and maintaining, as required, items such as purificators, corporals etc. used at Holy Communion. Also, the three-time-a-year washing, ironing and maintaining of the sanctuary linen on the communion table and the credence.
There are two churchwardens. They are elected annually at the Meeting of Parishioners and then ‘sworn-in’ at a later date as bishop’s officers by the archdeacon. A churchwarden must be on the Church Electoral Roll, over the age of 21 years and regular communicant. Once elected, they have wide-ranging duties and responsibilities in the parish, are leaders in the congregation and work together closely with the vicar and the PCC to discern, support and carry forward the mission and ministry of St. Paul’s.
Providing the bread and preparing the communion vessels for services of Holy Communion and afterwards, washing, tidying and putting away. Lighting sanctuary candles and extinguishing them after the service. Usually for Sunday morning services but may occasionally be asked, if available, to help with an evening service. Training provided. A rota is in operation with members serving approximately once a month.
The Crèche is available during our Sunday morning services for those under the age of 3 years. There is rota of helpers each serving roughly once a month. The aim is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for the children allowing parent(s) to participate in the worship service knowing that their child(ren) are well-provided for. Some parents choose to remain in the Crèche with their child(ren). Age-appropriate toys, games and books are available. All Crèche helpers must fulfil the requirements of our Safeguarding Policy.
Representatives (St. Paul’s is entitled to two) are elected for a period of three years at an Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). They must be on the Electoral Roll for at least 6 months, over the age of 18 years and a regular communicant. Deanery Synod Representatives attend the meetings of the Synod (usually 4 per year) and are automatically members of our PCC. Their role is to report back to the PCC and the Church the proceedings of the Synod and, when required, to vote on issues raised at Synod.
Flowers decorate our Church sanctuary on most weeks of the year, save Lent. At present displays are of artificial flowers with the occasional display of fresh flowers at festivals or when provided by a member of our congregation. We do not, at present, have a regular flower arranger(s). If anyone would like to see if they ‘have the knack’, we might be able to find a beginners group or introduce you to an experienced arranger.
Hedge-trimming, weeding, pruning and removal of litter are all required if our gardens are to be a blessing to our Church and community. Some tools are available but you might also need to bring your own. Little and often is better than the occasional blitz! Access can be arranged to suit. If you know a good source of wood-chippings, that would be valuable.
Laying-on-of-hands and anointing with oil is offered on the fourth Sunday each month at the morning service, the first Sunday in the evening, and the third Wednesday in the morning. In addition, prayer ministry is available after each Sunday morning service. Members of the Healing Team undergo two sessions of training with the vicar before being commissioned and their ministry acknowledged by the congregation. There is also ongoing support and further training as needed. Both laying-on-of-hands and prayer after the service operate on a rota system.
All churches are required to develop a policy for Health and Safety. We are at an early stage in this and need a small group of interested folk who are willing to develop and then implement our policy?
Hymn numbers need to be displayed for our Sunday morning services of Family Communion using the two hymn boards we have in Church. After the service the boards need to be cleared and the numbers put away. The hymn boards are not used for Family Worship when hymns etc. are projected.
Would you be willing to lead the prayers of at our Sunday morning services? We have a small number of people already doing this, but it would be good to have some more! Training and ongoing help is available in-house and also through the Deanery and Diocese. There are prayer lists of topics to use.
There are many and varied things around Church that need mending, maintaining, seeing-to etc. If you have a talent for DIY and an ability to fix things then why not put your talent to good use together with others who have similar gifts and interests.
We use microphones especially in our morning services. In addition, our services of Family Worship make use of an overhead projector and screen to display hymns etc. and occasionally we use a data projector. We need volunteer(s) willing to set these up beforehand, to operate them where necessary during services, and to put them away afterwards.
The role of a Mission Representative is to raise awareness in the congregation of a particular mission organisation or partner. This usually involves co-operating with the vicar and PCC in organising a Sunday when the work and needs of the organisation can be highlighted and support, both financial and pastoral, can be encouraged. Throughout the year, the Mission Representative also acts as a channel through which information (e.g. the availability of newsletters, news updates and topics for prayer) can be made known.
Music is a vital part of our services and we are thankful for those who contribute in this way. If you sing or play an instrument your gift would be welcome in supporting and enriching our worship.
Communication plays an important part in the life of any church. This involves keeping our noticeboards up to date and looking attractive as well as ensuring that publicity and current information is readily available to our congregation and parish.
The PCC is the major decision-making body in the church. Members are elected to the PCC at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting usually to serve for three years. In order to stand for election to the PCC it is necessary to be on the Church Electoral Roll for at least 6 months, over 16 years of age and a regular communicant. The PCC meets approximately eight times each year on Monday evenings. If they wish, a member may stand for re-election at the end of their previous term of office.
Prayer Visiting is a ministry shared ecumenically with a number of other local churches. Visitors call in pairs on houses in the area to invite prayer requests from the residents. These requests are then prayed for by each church in its own way. Visiting takes place roughly once a month excepting August and the winter months.
Visits are made to St. Paul’s Preschool on Farley Hill fortnightly on Fridays during term-time. Visits take place either in the morning or afternoon. A short Bible story is read to the children followed by the singing of several action-songs and the children are encouraged to join in. Visits usually last for 15-20 minutes. In addition, we are invited to lead a short Harvest Service and to narrate the annual Nativity Play.
These are provided following the service each Sunday morning as a way of developing our fellowship with one another. Fairtrade coffee and tea are served together with soft drinks, biscuits, cakes, fruit etc. Those who serve the refreshments often bring some contribution of their own to the feast! There is a rota and people serve in pairs. They wash up and tidy away afterwards.
We take the safety and well-being of the children in our care very seriously and have a Safeguarding Policy based on national and diocesan guidelines. We appoint annually a Safeguarding Officer and an assistant to administer the scheme. They report to the PCC.
We lead assemblies fortnightly at two schools:
Tennyson Road Primary School. These are usually led by the vicar although others (mainly clergy, youth ministers, or an occasional member of the congregation) have done so or participated. Assemblies are on Wednesdays at 3 pm (2.30-3.45 pm for preparation and tidy up). We use ‘ready-made’ material and adapt it for our situation. We also use action songs that are sung unaccompanied.
Surrey Street Primary School. There is an ecumenical team comprising clergy, a youth minister and members of the congregations of several local churches (cf. Prayer Visiting). Assemblies are on Thursday mornings 8.30-9.45 am (allowing for rehearsal time, preparation and tidy-up). We usually have a planning meeting on the Monday before. Material is from ‘Open the Book’ assemblies with whom we are registered. Action songs are on CD and occasionally DVD.
In addition to those participating directly in the assembly, there are opportunities to get involved by making props, costumes, IT etc. So if performing in front of a hall full of children doesn’t appeal, there are alternatives that are also much needed !
Sidesmen (a name that does not reflect the fact that more than half of them in St. Paul’s, and in many churches, are women) are elected at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting. In order to be elected a Sidesman should be baptised and also be a member of the church Electoral Roll. They have an important role in the Ministry of Welcome, often being the first people to greet folk when they enter the church for a service. It is not absolutely necessary for someone to be a Sidesman in order to take part in the Ministry of Welcome. What is more important is to be able to help people feel valued and at home when they come, and to be aware of, and sensitive to, their needs.
In addition to the refreshments following Sunday morning services each week, we have, annually, two social events. On a Saturday near to Shrove Tuesday there is a Pancake Party and, on the Saturday before Harvest Festival, we hold our Harvest Supper. There is nothing else planned on a regular basis leaving plenty of opportunity for, say, something in the summer. We have a small number of willing workers but it would be good to form a group with a few more others who would like to have the responsibility of organising get-togethers.
A group of young people from St. Paul’s who met together to watch DVDs of The Nativity and The Passion have been invited to hold joint meetings with a group called YALU (You Are Loved Unconditionally) from St. Andrew’s, Woodside. Combined meetings take place on the first Friday of each month alternating between St. Andrew’s and St. Paul’s.
Our Church website is developing all the time. It is a work in progress. There is a small group of people involved in this who would welcome input to help carry things forward.