For more information about our church, please visit our website: St. Mary’s, Alderbury
Rebuilt in 1857 on the site of the medieval church, the church of St Mary’s Alderbury is set half a mile from the main village road and centre. This in itself gives us a real challenge, as few walk past the building.
There are 54 people on the electoral roll, with average Sunday attendance of 40-50 rising to 100+ at major Festivals. We are aware that there are some villagers who regularly worship in Salisbury; some of these however do join in with our house groups.
Children’s work is of particular importance. We have 13 children aged between 5 and 17 who regularly attend on a Sunday at our monthly family service or our twice a month Sunday squad groups. There are also mid-week monthly meetings; ‘Little Fishes’ for the 0–7-year-olds and parents (5 families); ‘Big Fishes’ for 7-11 year olds (8 children) and The Net for those over 11 (10 children). The church also organises a Good Friday Holiday Club and a Light Party at Halloween. During the pandemic we have been sending a monthly craft bag and recorded session to all under 11’s and having zoom chat / quiz sessions with those over 11.
Refurbishment over recent years has provided a disabled toilet, and a new hospitality unit at the west end. We have just completed a project to convert the area in the bell tower over the toilets into an ‘Upper Room’. This was originally conceived as an area where our young people could meet on a Sunday Morning – but will have many other uses. Under pew heating was fitted in 2017 and a new handrail along the path to the church was installed in 2018. The font has been reset to its original location near the west entrance and lighting changed to more eco-friendly LED lighting.
Under the strapline “St Mary’s In The Community” the church runs a Coffee Shop in the village hall one morning a week. This has proved very popular and has met a real need within the village. Average attendance is 30 plus each week. Many of those who come have little or no connection with the church, and there is a real opportunity to get to know these people better – and how we can best serve them. For a number of years income generated by the Coffee Shop has funded the purchase of Bibles for each Year 3 child at Alderbury and West Grimstead school.
The church finances are in a relatively healthy position thanks to the overall reserves that have been built up in recent years. We currently give 10% of our offering income to mission groups and charities. The majority of church members now give regularly to St. Mary’s via the Parish Giving Scheme. The reduction in services during the Covid lockdowns has resulted in some loss of collection income but this has been partially offset by the associated reduction in heating costs.
The last Quinquennial Survey was carried out in April 2017 and the priority repairs recommended have been completed. Wildlife areas have been created in the churchyard in the last couple of years. The re-leading of the window on the west side of the tower is planned for later this year and consideration is being given to restoring the church bell and to replacing the altar frontal. There is a need to keep the spire tiling under observation and some painting of the internal walls will be needed in the next couple of years.
The Parish has strong ecumenical links with the local Roman Catholic Church (sharing evening worship once a month) and also close co-operation with local members of the Methodist Church.
On the first Sunday of the month a Café style church service is held in the village hall. This is open to all and is well attended. Different groups within the church community lead these services. The second Sunday of the month is generally an All-Age communion, and the third Sunday is a Family Service, which is lay led. PowerPoint is used most months at the Family Service and there is a small music group instead of the organ. The fourth Sunday is a Healing communion with the laying on of hands. There is a robed choir of ten which is augmented to 20 for special Services. During the recent lockdowns the Choir provided ‘virtual’ recordings of hymns and worship songs to augment the on-line services and provided a full Carol Service for last Christmas. There is an active lay ministry, with intercessions, administering the chalice, and laying on of hands at healing services undertaken by lay people. Those that have completed the Lay Worship Leaders training also take services. There is a mid-week Communion each Wednesday in the small church hall at Whaddon.
There are currently three House Groups, two of which are ecumenical. One meets weekly, and the others twice a month. There are also three prayer groups: a Julian group, a Healing group, and a group that prays specifically for the life of the village.
There is one Licensed Lay Worker, six Lay Pastoral Assistants and two Lay Worship Leaders in the congregation. We also have 2 retired ministers who have Permission To Officiate.
The Lay Pastoral Assistants provide pastoral care for individuals, families and groups within the church and neighbourhood, and meet regularly with the incumbent. At St Mary’s, a pastoral network system is in place providing oversight of members of the congregation and is regularly monitored for any concerns. This network has been especially valuable during the pandemic and times of lockdown.
We are fortunate to have a number of volunteers to support our children’s work – all suitably DBS checked. In the past the Vicar has taken responsibility for one of the monthly children’s activities – and we hope this will be continued (with support of course in line with Safeguarding best practice).
Our building work and renovations is overseen by one of the Wardens, and we have an active Lay Chair to the PCC. The St Mary’s Safeguarding Officer also provides this function for the whole team.
The church sponsors a number of activities and organisations under the strapline “St. Mary’s In The Community”:
- Mid-week children’s groups.
- A weekly Coffee Shop, as detailed earlier.
- A lunch club for older people in the village.
- A Men’s Breakfast which meets 5 times a year and brings men of the village together for fellowship.
- Occasional Village Picnic, Barn Dance and Quiz Evenings.
- Mothers Union, Parent and Toddler Group and Wives Group.
- A monthly village magazine is published and distributed throughout the villages of Alderbury and West Grimstead.