As a Church there are various services we can accommodate, below is everything you might want to know on each of those services we offer.
Christians have used the rite of baptism (also called “christening”) to welcome new members of the church from the very start of Christianity itself: you’ll find lots of stories of people being baptised in the New Testament.
Traditionally, most people being brought to baptism in St.Mary Magdalene would have been young children – but this isn’t always the case now: there’s no age limit to being baptised!
Baptism is often thought of as helping children to become part of a “wider family” or even as something that gives them extra “protection” in their lives. But Christians emphasise that baptism is about making a commitment to follow in the way of Jesus. So those being baptised are asked
- Do you turn to Christ?
- Do you repent of your sins?
- Do you renounce evil?
Those too young to reply have their parents and godparents answer on their behalf.
How Do I Get My Children Baptised At St.Mary Magdalene?
- Contact Fr James (the vicar) or one of the Churchwardens.
- Fr James or another priest will arrange to come and see you, to talk about baptism, and what both you and the Church understand by it.
- It may be that a service of thanksgiving for the birth of a child, rather than a baptism, would be more appropriate.
- If you and the priest decide that baptism is right for your child in your circumstances, then the priest will talk with you about arranging a date, about godparents and about what happens in the service.
Confirmation is a joyful occasion in our church life! It’s a special service led by the Bishop, where older children and adults (who have already been baptised) make a renewed promise to follow Jesus Christ in their lives. Christians believe that a particular gift of the Holy Spirit comes upon those being confirmed. Many confirmations are held in Cathedrals or other big churches, but they take place in this church and other local churches too.
Members of the Church of England usually need to be confirmed before they take the bread and wine of Holy Communion; here, members of our Sunday School often get confirmed at age 8 or above, and can therefore play a full part in our worshipping life.
To be confirmed you need to have a period of preparation. Fr James intends to run a course exploring the basics of our faith in September and October 2019, and this will also serve as preparation before a possible confirmation service in a neighbouring parish in November.
Please ask Fr. James or one of the Wardens if you’re interested.
Nowadays you can have your wedding in many lovely places: so to have your wedding in a church is a positive choice rather than simply the alternative to a register office.
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God, and for many centuries have combined the legal form of words needed to be married in England with a service of worship, including readings, prayers and usually music. A church wedding, as an act of worship, is therefore open to anyone to attend.
St.Mary Magdalene is a lovely church for a wedding!
But this isn't just about the building: we are a parish church here to serve our local community. It's a great joy for everyone in the church family when those who live in our parish want to get married here.
How Do I Get Married At St.Mary Magdalene?
- Contact Fr James, or the Churchwardens.
- Fr James or another priest will arrange to come and see you. We will explain some of the legal procedures that need to be gone through in order to confirm that a wedding can happen here.
- If you live in the parish, are British citizens and don't have a former spouse still living, then these procedures are usually very straightforward. If any of these are an issue, the priest will talk you through the possibilities: it's possible now to have a "qualifying connection" to our parish even if you don't live there. The Church of England has an explanation of these along with other excellent wedding resources at www.yourchurchwedding.org
- Once a wedding date has been confirmed, Fr James or another priest will help you with planning the service, and making sure that everything goes well on the big day.
Is It Expensive?
Many people think that a church wedding needs to be very grand (and expensive), like in "Four weddings and a Funeral", But it doesn't have to be.
The basic fee for a marriage service in 2019 is £455 (set by Parliament, not St.Mary Magdalene).
There are other small fees to pay for reading banns (ask a priest what this is!): if you have an organist and bell ringers they will also be paid a fee, and we ask for a contribution to heating the church building.
The parish church remains an important centre for funerals across Britain, even with the increasing popularity of other venues. St Mary Magdalene is no exception: anyone who lived in the parish or used to worship here is entitled to have their funeral service conducted in our church if they wish. Fr James or another priest will come to visit bereaved families to make arrangements for a funeral service, and this can contain music, readings and a eulogy if families would like this. We also try and keep in touch with bereaved families and invite them to a service of commemoration at All Souls’ (on or around November 2nd each year).
The basic fee for a funeral service in church for 2019 is £195 (set by Parliament, not St.Mary Magdalene). If you have an organist they will also be paid a fee, set by the PCC, and we ask for a contribution to heating the church building and for the services of a verger to help set up the church for the service.
The graveyard at St Mary Magdalene remains an important point of focus for our local community, and is the final resting place for several generations of local families. Burials are only possible now in the churchyard if a grave space was reserved in previous years, although cremated remains can be interred into existing graves.
In 2018 we opened a new Garden of Remembrance for cremated remains. This is a communal burial area where plaques can be purchased and placed on a memorial stone to remember loved ones. The guidelines for the new cremated remains area can be found here:
In common with every open churchyard in England, it is the responsibility of the PCC (Parochial Church Council) to ensure the churchyard as a whole is maintained to the best of our ability. Maintenance of individual graves remains the responsibility of those who requested them.
The PCC has to follow a set of rules laid down by the Diocesan Chancellor (the senior legal officer for the Chelmsford Diocese) and these rules can sometimes cause confusion when practices that were allowed in previous years are then not allowed in the future.
The PCC has drawn up their own guidelines for our churchyard, based on the Diocesan rules, and you can find them here
You can see the Diocesan Churchyard handbook here: