New in Church?

Your Questions and Our Answers to Guide You

First Time in Church?

First time in church?

First of all, you are very welcome here! Being welcome means you can come as you are. You don’t have to dress in a particular way, or have a particular lifestyle, or ever have been inside a church before. And you don’t need to have a Christian faith to join in any of our activities, including worship. This Church is a space where you can find your place and explore what it might mean to have a relationship with God, at your own pace and in your own way.

But what if I don’t believe in God?

If people weren’t allowed to come to church unless they already believed in God then it would be very difficult for anyone to become a new Christian. Why not try coming to a service here and see what you think? It’s absolutely fine to ask questions, and no question is too silly or embarrassing to ask. You could ask the person you sit next to, or someone you chat to over coffee afterwards. But don’t be surprised if you get different answers! Talking about faith, how we understand God and how we interpret the Bible are things that lots of people at Downing Place really enjoy doing. We don’t necessarily agree with each other all the time, but we find these discussions rich, fascinating and thought-provoking, and we actively enjoy the different perspectives that others bring.

Where can I sit?

Anywhere you like! You are welcome to sit wherever you will feel most comfortable.

What actually happens in a service?

Most services are a mixture of songs, readings, prayers and reflections. They usually last just over an hour. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the hymns or don’t want to join in – it’s fine just to listen. Sometimes during prayers there are words that everyone says together, but again it’s absolutely fine just to listen in silence. The sermon usually lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. If you’re not used to sermons, don’t worry – at Downing Place we’re lucky enough to have a range of really interesting preachers and they often weave together the Bible readings and contemporary events and issues in ways that are very thought–provoking.

Once a month there’s a Communion service, where we share bread and wine together. This can look a bit complicated when you’re new to the Church, but don’t worry – there are clear instructions and friendly people to help. You don’t have to have been confirmed in order to receive Communion, but if you’d prefer to receive a blessing, or just to sit quietly, then that’s fine too.

Can I bring my children?

Yes, please do! Babies and children are most welcome to come with you. Everyone usually all worships together for the first part of the service and there’s a ‘Sharing together’ slot which is more informal than the sermon and engages with younger people. During the rest of the service there’s a well-planned programme of activities for children, staffed by trained members of the congregation. If you want to find out more about this, please feel free to get in touch with Elza de Bruin: She’d love to hear from you!

How accessible is Downing Place URC?

Step-free access to the building is available at the Downing Place entrance to the building and there are also accessible toilets. There is a hearing loop in the church as well as paper copies of the sermon available for the hearing impaired. Large-print copies of the order of service and hymn book are easily available when you arrive – just ask at the door. Gluten-free bread and non-alcoholic wine are served during Communion.

What else can I come to at Downing Place URC?

Knit One Give One, Choir, Bible Study, Tuesday Fellowship, Lunch Club, Open Table, free lunchtime concerts… and if there’s something you’d like to do that isn’t already on offer, feel free to set up your own new activity. You’re sure to find others who’d like to join you!

Who can I get in touch with to find out more?

Please feel free to get in touch with Nigel, our Minister, or with Elza, our Children’s Ministry Team Co-ordinator. You’ll find their contact details here.