What to expect
The sign on the front door of both Chilton and Harwell churches says "You are welcome here" and you can be sure we mean it: you are very welcome to be with us!
If you are visiting Chilton or Harwell Church for the first time, you may wonder how we do things. Here are some answers - that we hope will help. If not, please do contact us. There's no such thing as a silly question!
Is it easy to park?
In Chilton, you can park about 70m away from the church door in the Village Hall car park.
In Harwell, we recommend that you park in the Church Hall car park (that's about 100m South of the main Church door). If it is a big service, such as a Baptism, wedding or funeral, we are able to park in the farmyard at the East end of the church (in other words, if you have the church on your left and drive past it, you turn left and immediately right).
Do you have access for buggies and wheelchairs?
Yes. In Harwell, there is a footpath which runs across the front of the Church, past the main door. It doesn't have steps from the Lane at either end and is considerably less steep on the right hand side (East end of the Church). A ramp is placed on the footpath to enable easy access to the porch when services are held. In Chilton the Church is accessed via a flat path from the Village Hall car park. Please note that there is a step as you go down into the Church through the door.
Both churches have flexible seating areas to allow for parked buggies or wheelchairs.
What do I do when I come in?
Someone will welcome you at the door and give you a sheet which has everything you need to follow the service. They will also give you a notice sheet, which gives information about things such as events and activities taking place in the weeks to come. You are welcome to take both sheets away with you.
In Harwell, we have big screens at the front and side of the church which show the same words as on the service sheet. It's up to you which you follow. In Chilton, the words from the service sheet are projected directly onto the walls at the front and one side of the Church. It doesn't matter whether you use the sheets or the screens - the words are the same.
Where do I sit? And what to do once I'm there?
You can sit anywhere you like.
Depending on the service, there will be a mixture of modern and traditional songs and hymns. Those who can usually stand for them and sit for the other parts. We also stand where we state what we believe (that will be called The Creed in the service sheet). Whatever you want to do to feel you are taking part in the service is fine - you can't be wrong.
For prayers we sit or kneel, whichever is most comfortable.
What about children?
We love having children in our churches! We want to make it easy and welcoming for you to bring them along. We have a number of options to allow you to enjoy the service and to keep them entertained and stimulated.
Both Chilton and Harwell run activities with a Bible theme for those aged 3 and upwards which are led by police-screened volunteers. They take place in various locations according to age. The person announcing the parts of the service as we go along will say when it is time for the activity leaders to take the children out. If your child doesn't want you to leave them, you are very welcome to go with them and have fun with arts and crafts, stories, games and much more.
Both churches have a part of the main church set out for use by families with toddlers and babies. If they are unsettled and it is more comfortable for you there is a cosy room at the back of Harwell Church where you can sit with your baby or young child. Sound from the main service is relayed into this room.
And there's yet another option in Harwell: if your child - whatever their age - would prefer to stay in the main service with you, we have 'Busy Bags' which contain colouring items and books to keep them amused. Just ask one of the welcomers at the door if we haven't already spotted that your child might like one.
In Chilton one of the welcomers at the door will be pleased to provide you with books and colouring items if you ask.
Once a month we have a slightly shorter service for all the family. It's usually on the first Sunday of the month.
Do you have toilets?
Yes, in both churches. Someone will be pleased to show you where they are. In Harwell, the disabled loo also has a baby-change facility. In Chilton the toilet is situated to the left of the main Church door and is open whenever a service is being held in the Church. Please don't worry if you need to go out during the service.
What is Holy Communion?
Once a month we have a morning Holy Communion service (some churches call it Eucharist, which means 'thanks'). It remembers the last supper that Jesus had with his first followers just before he died, when they ate bread and drank wine together.
In both churches, at our service of Holy Communion, we come to the front together, stand or kneel and are given a small piece of bread and a sip of wine (alcohol-free wine and gluten-free bread are available). If you believe in Jesus Christ you are welcome to join in, no matter which church you belong to. If you prefer, you can come to the front for a blessing (don’t hold out your hands for the bread and cup). Or you can just stay in your seat if you prefer.
If you would like to go up for Communion or for a blessing, you will be shown when to go to the front. If you would like to take Communion but won't find it easy to get to the front, the priest will come to you in your seat. Just ask one of the people who are showing others to the front when they get to your row.
What do I wear?
Nothing special; our services are informal so you just need to feel comfortable. For Baptisms (also called Christenings), weddings and funerals, people do usually want to wear smarter clothes.
What if I want to get help with something personal?
Have a word with one of the staff, or with one of the church members. If you would like it, someone might pray for you while you are there. Or you can contact us especially for prayer by phone or email.
Some people like to write down a prayer for members of the church to pray about later that day or in the week to come. You can write prayers in the prayer diary (Chilton) or post a prayer in the prayer box (Harwell). One of the welcomers will show you where they are and find you a quiet place to write your prayer. If you do write down a prayer, you don't have to give your name or any more detail than you feel comfortable with. You can ask for prayer here.
Will I be expected to give money?
No - visitors are not expected to give money. We do pass round a bag for regular church members who like to contribute to church expenses. Many regulars don't even use the bag but give in other ways.
Will I have to say anything in public?
No! But if you are a godparent at a Baptism (christening), you will have to agree in public to certain promises. The person taking the Baptism will have already visited the child's parents and talked through the detail of the service with them. If there is anything in the Baptism service you are unclear about - for example, what you might be expected to do or say - you can contact us if you don't want to ask the child's parents.
How long does a service last?
Services usually last an hour. All-age services, when the children stay in church all the time (these are usually on the first Sunday of the month) are a bit shorter.
Is someone going to ask me why I'm there? Or if I'm going to come again? Or try to persuade me to do something for the church?
It's great to see new faces, so if any of the regular church members do ask you about yourself, you can be sure it's only because they want you to feel welcome. No-one is going to ask you to sign up to anything just because you came along to a service!
What happens after a service?
Tea, coffee and squash with biscuits or cake are served after the 9.30am service in Chilton and the 11.00am service in Harwell. It's a nice chance to chat.
You can find out times of services in Chilton and in Harwell here.
Click here for a map for either church.