FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ page contains a number of questions that are frequently asked about our services which we hope will help you. Please let us know if you have a question that is not answered here. 

One of the beautiful stained glass windows at St. Bartholomew's Church, Sydenham South East London

FAQ. Why so much information?

This may just be our top FAQ. Like a lot of activities, church can have its own jargon and confusing rituals. We aim to explain some of the practical issues around our Sunday services here. You do not have to know all this information before you actually come and visit us on a Sunday, as we are happy to explain everything to you in person. If you have never, or rarely, attended a church, or none with worship similar to ours, it may take a visit or two to be sure of what we are doing.

Q. Do I have to wear a hat?

No! We don't have a dress code. The days when many churches insisted on people's dressing up in "Sunday Best" either with official rules or peer pressure are mostly gone. You will see people in a wide range of styles here.

Q. So what rules do you have?

We try to keep to common sense suggestions to ensure that everyone can concentrate on worship. Please turn off your mobile phone on your way int, and don't text, chat or eat crisps during the service!

Q. Is your church accessible?

We have flat access into church and up to the nave altar. There is an induction loop system for hearing aids. We have lavatories within the main building, including one wheelchair-accessible. If you have any queries about our provision before you travel, you are welcome to contact us via the Contacts page.

Q. I have small children. What if they get restless?

This is another top FAQ. We don't expect the smallest members of our congregation to be silent for over an hour (our main 10am Sunday services last about an hour and a quarter). There are several things to assist you in keeping them occupied.

  • Most parents sit on the comfortable movable chairs at the back of the church which can be arranged around pushchairs etc. 
  • You may borrow toys from the wooden toy chest you will see in front of you, beside the churchwardens' desk. 
  • Through the doors to the church hall, there is a creche area for times when they, or you, need a break. 
  • Older children can attend children's church during the first part of the service, and this is also held in the church hall, attached to the church. 
  • Around ten times a year we have "all-age" services, designed to be less formal and easier for young children to understand, and there is a month evening service for children called Sunday @ Six. 

See Children for more information or click on the navigation link to the left. 

Q. What are all the books and papers I get given on my way in?

During an all-age service, you may be given one pamphlet containing all the words of the liturgy and hymns that you need. On regular service days, you are likely to need three things: a pastel-covered pamphlet with the words to the main part of the service, a blue hymn book and a single sheet of paper with hymn numbers, any hymns not in a main book, details of the readings and other items which can change from week to week, plus notices of other activities. You will usually be told which page you need in the service book at regular intervals so that you don't get too lost. One part where you need your wits about you is the "Eucharistic Prayer" where one of several difference possible prayers will be announced, identified by a letter, e.g. "Eucharistic Prayer B". These are all printed in order in the middle of the booklet.

Q. Are new visitors singled out? What if I get something wrong?

No. We understand that there are some churches where new visitors may be asked to stand up and identify themselves during the service. This isn't one of them. You may join in as much or as little as you like, or sit and watch to get your bearings. There is a part of the service called "the passing of the peace" where most people stand up and walk about shaking hands with the nearest people, usually saying "Peace be with you" and you may join in this or not as you choose.

Q. Who can go up to the altar when people are receiving communion?

Everyone. Some people go up to receive communion, others to receive a blessing. Church of England rules state that anyone confirmed into the C of E may receive communion, ie take the bread and wine, in any C of E church. Also, people visiting from other denominations who usually take communion when offered in their churches are permitted to take communion here. We also allow children who have been prepared for first communion but not confirmed to receive.

If none of that applies to you, you are still very welcome to come up for a blessing. Please keep your head bowed and don't hold out your hands, so the celebrant will know to bless you rather than offer you the bread.

Q. How do people know what hymns to sing?

Hymn numbers are printed on the service sheet, displayed on the wooden board hung on the right hand pillar at the front of the church, and announced by the minister. Most hymns come from the book, but one or two may be printed on the loose sheet of paper.

After that, I need a coffee!

Tea, coffee, biscuits and squash are served in the church hall after the 10am service. Follow everyone through the double doors on the left of the church as you face the altar. Drinks are free, and although donations are welcome, you needn't feel you can't join us for a coffee and a chat if you have left your change at home.

I tried it, but didn't really take to it

We would be happy to discuss your questions, doubts or suggestions, without pressure. However, there is a wide range of worship styles within the Church of England alone, so if you are looking for something different, sites like A Church Near You will help you find it.

And remember, Contact Us if you have a question you think should be featured on our FAQ page.

Return from FAQ to St. Barts Home Page

Call the Rev Michael Kingston on 020 8778 5290

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