matter what your circumstances, we welcome you to St Mary Magdalen, but not only do we hope you will join us at services and events, we encourage you to make your own unique contribution to our community. On this page, you can find details of three ways you might join us in renewing our Church and Parish — by praying with us, giving with us, and serving with us. We look forward to finding out how your gifts and talents will help to shape our future!
Pray with us
What does it mean to pray? The prayers that we see in film and television are often awkward or involve asking God to resolve a crisis, as if praying is to give God his to-do list for the day! In the example below from the movie The Fast and the Furious, the character Jesse is unexpectedly asked to “say grace” (pray before a meal), and he says:
“Dear Heavenly, ur, Spirit. Thank you. Thank you for providing us with the direct-port nitrous… uh… injection, four-core intercoolers, an’ ball-bearing turbos, and… um… titanium valve springs. Thank you.”
In the history of the Christian church, prayer has taken many forms involving words, music, art, movement and silence. Prayer always means dedicating your time and attention to God, but it does not always have to involve speaking words. Instead, prayer is the daily work of developing a deepening, loving relationship with the living God. You are made in the image of God, God loves you and He is interested in every aspect your life “So have no fear …; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid” (Matthew 10.26,30-31).
So, how can you start praying if you don’t have to have a shopping list for God, or even words? The following is an excerpt from a newspaper article about Lord Rowan Williams:
“It’s about the habits you try to form: making time every day to be quiet with God. That’s what I am answerable to. It’s very important to settle yourself and to remind myself that his is time God gives me, not just time I give to God. For me [prayer] is a matter of trying to a clear a space in my head.”
He talked about this daily prayer in the most careful, practical way, almost as if it was therapy: “Breathe regularly, sit upright, breathe, and say some simple words. I will often say ‘Lord have mercy’ slowly, at intervals, and just let it settle into my stomach. It doesn’t always seem to work. Sometime I can be there for half an hour and the thoughts just go galloping round like horses in the Grand National. Then I have to remind myself that this is time God gives to me, and not just time I give to God.” Then, still in the same matter of fact way, he said: “You are trying to open the cellar door and be aware of the darkness underneath the water.”
At St Mary Magdalen we have a series of different services on Sunday evenings where we pray quietly together, often in silence. Please see our services page for more details and join us in prayer on a Sunday evening.
In addition, we have small groups which meet monthly throughout the year for prayer and reflection. These are informal occasions, usually held at the house of one of the Parishioners. Look out for more details on the notices sheet that you can pick up at any of our services.
Praying with words
Sometimes the most difficult part of praying with words is to find a way to express your desires, fears, doubts and pain to God. This can especially true after a bereavement or a traumatic experience, or when God seems distant. At these times, it helps to rely on the prayers of others.
Throughout Christian history, the Church has collected prayers (often adapted from passages of the Bible) that people have found helpful. These have been passed down through the generations and form the basis of our Church services today. The best known of these is the Lord’s Prayer, that Jesus taught his disciples (Matthew 6.9–13):
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are Yours
now and for ever.
The Jesus prayer
The Jesus Prayer is a much shorter prayer which likely originates from the early monks and nuns who went out alone into the Egyptian desert to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5.17). These Desert Mothers and Fathers attracted so many visitors they were said to have turned the desert into a city, and their lives inspired the traditions of monks and nuns that we have today. Unlike the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer is short, simple and intended to be repeated continually:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.
The purpose of repeating the prayer is that it might enter into the heart, so that the person praying finds themselves saying the words spontaneously, and without conscious effort. To start out using this prayer, some people recite the words for a certain period of time (perhaps a few minutes), whereas others count the number of times they repeat the words (for example, using a prayer rope or prayer beads).
Praying with the Bible
To deepen your own prayer life spending time with the biblical texts can be life changing. This helps us to understand the relationship between God and Her people over time, and teaches us how Jews and Christians have prayed in the past, particularly in the Book of Psalms (iOS / Apple or Android 4.0+). To help us learn more from the Bible, our Sunday morning services use readings of scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary, which takes us through the whole Bible once every three years. Each year in the cycle has one Gospel as its focus (A: Matthew, B: Mark and C: Luke), with the Gospel of John being used for special festivals such as Easter. If you want to read ahead, a list of the upcoming Sunday readings can be found at the back of Church or on the Church of England Sunday Worship app (available for iOS / Apple or Android 4.0+).
If you are just starting out with the Bible, or picking it up again after a break, you might want to start with the Gospel of Mark, and if finding time to read daily is difficult, why not try listening to the Bible instead? Choose a good translation grounded in academic study, like the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), or the King James Version if you prefer the poetic nature of the language, or one in modern English, such as The Message or the Contemporary English Version; then the language won’t be a barrier. As with prayer, consistency is good, but don’t feel bad about it if you miss a few days — time with God is never a punishment!
Praying with the Church
For more extended prayers and Bible readings, the Church of England has both morning and evening services that are intended to be said daily. These change slightly each day, and you can find the services for today on the Daily Prayer webpage, or as an app for iOS / Apple or Android 4.0+ phones.
If you are using the Daily Prayer services at home, it is a good idea to start with the “contemporary language” versions of the services, at least to start with, as the language will be more familiar to you. The text in red is there to tell you what comes next in the service and is not intended to be read out, but you will say the text in black out loud. If you are praying with others, all of you will say the text in bold and one of you will say the non-bold text — it is a good idea to take turns at this. Unless you are a priest, you should leave out any parts of the service that say “A priest says”, or similar (if you are not a priest, you can still say any parts of the service that a “minister” says — we are all ministers in the Church!).
The services have a space for prayers or “intercessions” where we pray for the well-being of other people, and this is time for you to add your own words to the service. These don’t have to be long, but many people find it helpful to pray about anything important happening that day, friends and family, and the life of the Church and the wider world.
Give with us
“For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” (1 Chronicles 29.14)Donating to St Mary Magdalen from St Mary Magdalen Church on Vimeo.
St Mary Magdalen has stood as a centre of worship and service to the Chapelfields community for over one hundred years. The Church has had a lively past, and we pray that it will have an exciting future, but the costs of running St Mary Magdalen and its mission have to be paid for by the Church community. These costs include the upkeep of the building, our worship and mission, as well as the costs of employing, housing and training our priests (the Parish Share). In 2017 the cost of running St Mary Magdalen was £1373 per week. Part of that cost is met by renting out the premises and Gift Aid (reclaiming tax from donations that the Church has received), but the majority of our income comes from the regular and planned giving of the Church family.
What we each give is a matter between ourselves and God. What God expects of us is that we should each shoulder our responsibility as a member of the family of St Mary Magdalen to the best of our ability.
The Bible teaches the principle of proportionate giving – giving a percentage of our income: for example 2p per £1 or 3p for each £1 of our disposable income. The Church of England urges us to aim at a basic standard of 5p per £1 after tax – that is 5%.
How to give regularly
How to make a one-off donation
To make a one-off donation to St Mary Magdalen Church, please visit our Give A Little page.
If you pay Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax in the UK, we can claim back 25p on every £1 you donate through the Gift Aid scheme, recovered from the money you’ve paid in those taxes. To make an enduing Gift Aid declaration (so that you only have to fill in one form to cover all your donations to St Mary Magdalen), please fill out our Planned and Regular Giving Form, or from the table at the back of the Church, and pass it to a Welcomer or Churchwarden.
If you are considering making a bequest to St Mary Magdalen in your will, and would like to talk to somebody or require more information, then please feel free to contact us — our contact details are at the bottom of the page. Any discussion we have with you will be treated in complete confidence. More information can be found on the Church of England legacy website.
Give by text message
Text SMMC01 £2/£5/£10 to 70070 to donate now. If you are a UK tax payer, you can opt to add Gift Aid to your donation (you will be sent a text message to confirm this).
Give while you shop
Whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be collecting free donations for St Mary Magdalen! There are over 3,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury’s – it doesn’t cost you a penny extra. Just head to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/stmmchapelfields/ and join for free, then every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever.
There are no catches or hidden charges and St Mary Magdalen will be really grateful for your donations.
Serve with us
At St Mary Magdalen we believe that we are all responsible for running an active, vibrant, and loving Church that helps to meet the needs of its congregations and the wider Parish. We serve with joy, giving back to God what She has given us, and going wherever we feel He has called us to go. If joining one of the teams below feels right to you, then we welcome you!
St Mary Magdalen Church is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. All post-holders and volunteers are expected to share this commitment. All appointments are subject to acceptable pre-appointment checks that include a satisfactory Enhanced DBS and references.
We want every person who walks through our doors to feel welcomed, and as part of this commitment we need people to greet people on their way in, show them around and (if they are new) introduce them to others.
The serving team
The serving team are vital to our worship, and ensure that our main Sunday services engage all the senses! If you have seen someone carrying a cross, lighting candles, dispersing incense or distributing Communion, they are all part of our wonderful serving team. To join this team you will need to learn a little more about how our services work. You will also need to get to Church a little early to help set up the Altar (the large table at the far end of the Church where the bread and wine are blessed) and help to put everything away afterwards.
Working with children and young people
Children are the future of the Church, but they are also full members of our community while they are still young. We currently have a lively group of children who attend our Messy Church services and a community group (Jolly Tots) which meets weekly to provide a safe space for children and carers to meet and play. In the future, we hope to have more provision for children in our weekly Sunday services also, and we welcome anyone who wants to help out with this important ministry.
Before you start working with young people or children, you will need to be DBS checked in order to comply with the Church safeguarding processes. Our Safeguarding Officer will talk you through what is necessary.
Reading the Bible
The Bible forms the basis of what we believe and everything that we do in Church. Our Sunday morning services all contain Bible readings that are read by members of the congregation, and form the basis of the sermon. Reading the Bible well is vital in helping the congregation understand its meaning, and deepen their relationship with God.
Our Sunday morning services include time for prayers that are written and read by members of the congregation. Typically we pray for:
- The Church (both our own Parish and the wider Church)
- Creation, human society and those in authority (including our Bishops and our own leaders)
- The local community
- Those who suffer
- Those who have died
Prayers do not have to be complicated or “churchy”, above all they are an intimate conversation between the people and the Lord.
Everyone loves a cup of tea! Almost all of our services and events involve tea, coffee and ideally cake, and we always need people to help switch the urn on, set out crockery, serve tea, coffee and cake, and tidy up afterwards.
Do you love cooking? Our Luncheon Club on Thursday mornings provides a three course meal to around 25 people, and for some of our regulars this is their only social event of the week. Throughout the year we have also hold occasional events (such as Harvest Lunch) that require catering.