The basic building block of the Church of England is the parish. If you live in the parish then you have a right to have your child baptised or to have a member of the clergy from the parish take your funeral. This is fundamentally true of weddings too (although there are certain legalities which must first be met before you can be married).
Even if you don’t live in the parish at the moment, if you have a link with the parish then it is still worth contacting us and asking if you can have your service at St Paul’s or Woosehill because we will be delighted to help if we possibly can. We will help you through each stage of the planning process and make sure your service is personal to you.
Christening (also known as baptism)
The birth of a baby is a time of great joy and something to celebrate! Your child is precious to you and precious to God. Being baptised at a Christening marks the start of a lifelong journey of faith as part of the local and worldwide Christian family. In baptism, we thank God for his gift of life and make a decision to start on the journey of faith and ask for the Church’s support.
Christening is about hearing how much God loves us, about expressing our longing for God’s guidance and grace and about determining to share his love with others. It is a hugely positive and optimistic statement to make, and a wonderfully solid foundation for life.
It’s worth adding that adults and older children are regularly baptized in the parish- it is not just something which happens to babies.
( Read more on the Church of England website- https://churchofenglandchristenings.org/ )
Different churches do baptisms at different times. At St Paul’s and Woosehill we offer baptisms on virtually any Sunday, either during the main Sunday morning service or after the service at 1pm.
The morning service last about 70 minutes- the afternoon service lasts about 30 minutes
To discuss a baptism please contact our Parish Office (0118 979 2122) who will book you in for an appointment with a member of the clergy who will answer your questions and agree a date with you.
We would be delighted to help.
A wedding is one of the most joyful and significant events for the two of you, and for such a special day, we offer a special place. You're welcome to marry in church whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are baptised and whether or not you go to church. We would be delighted to help you to commit your lives to one another and to ask God to bless your marriage- this is God’s promise of his presence and encouragement and support in all that your future life together holds. We’re firm believers that the wedding day is worth getting right and making sure it is as wonderful as you hope and plan for it to be, but it is the day after and every day after that which matters most of all- your life together as husband and wife.
Today more than a quarter of all marriages in England take place before God in the traditional setting of a Church of England church.
You can read more on the excellent Church of England website.
The first step is to contact our Parish Office and speak to Becca, our Parish Administrator, who will congratulate you, explain the process, answer any initial questions that you might have, reserve the date if you have a specific date in mind and arrange for you to meet with a member of the clergy to take things forward.
That meeting will normally take place fairly soon, and you will be told everything you need to know at that meeting, as well as having the chance to ask all of the questions you have of someone who will (hopefully) be able to answer (some) of them!
As you would expect, and as happens wherever you want to get married, there are certain legalities which have to be met before you can marry. You can read more about the legal requirements prior to marriage on the Church of England website…but the following represents a brief overview:
Banns or licence: legal requirements prior to marriage
If one of you resides in the parish, or is on the church electoral roll, or has a qualifying connection with the church, you may meet the legal requirements prior to marriage by the calling of banns. Banns are called on three consecutive Sundays within three months of the wedding date in the parish churches of both bride and bridegroom.
At St Paul’s this is usually done on the first three Sundays of the month prior to your wedding at our 9.30am service (so we read banns for March in January). However, our Parish Administrator will advise you when this will be, so that you may attend and hear the calling of your banns.
If, for a variety of reasons (usually no previous or existing connection with our church, or either of you is not a British national) you do not meet the legal requirements for banns you will need to apply for a licence to be married here. Our Parish Administrator will explain to you how to apply for a licence and what conditions will need to be met.
What if one or both of you have been married before and has been divorced?
Being divorced is not a bar to being married in the Church of England any longer, although we will need to see evidence that the previous marriage has been legally terminated and have a conversation about the circumstances which led to the previous marriage (or civil partnership) ending in divorce.
https://churchofenglandfunerals.org/ is an excellent website and answers a whole host of questions. It’s a great place to start when thinking about a funeral- and we are here to help, to answer your questions, to walk with you and to be there for you.
Death can happen when you are young or old; it can be expected or sudden; it can be a tragedy or, in some senses, at times, something of a release after long endurance. Christians believe that God's love and power extend over all creation, that as God is with us from before birth and through every second of our life, he does not abandon us when we die but rather rejoices to welcome us to Heaven. Every life, including our own, is precious to God.
Christians have always believed that there is hope in death as in life, and that there is new life in Christ’s victory over death at Easter. Even those who share such faith find that there is a real sense of loss at the death of a loved one. We will each have had our own experiences of life and death, with different memories and different feelings of love, grief and respect.
St Paul’s, Wokingham and St Nicholas’, Emmbrook are here to serve all of the people of the parish, whether you come regularly to church or whether you don’t. If you would like to talk about a funeral then please don’t hesitate to contact us, by email or by phone. We are happy to discuss how things work and what might be possible whenever you would like to have that conversation.
The Funeral Service
The funeral can take place in Church but it doesn’t have to. The funeral can take place in Church first, and then conclude at the crematorium or with a burial, or it can happen at the crematorium chapel or graveside. Clergy from the parish are happy to do any of these. The main advantage of having the service in Church first, quite apart from any personal links with the Church building or community, and previous services that have happened there, is that it takes away any sense of time pressure.
The funeral service itself is an occasion to express our faith and our feelings as we say farewell, to acknowledge our loss and our sorrow, and to reflect on our own mortality. The church offers funeral services as a way of providing support and consolation to those who mourn.
St Paul’s Churchyard is still open for burials for people from the local community, and the Garden of Remembrance is an area just outside Church, on the Wokingham side, where we regularly bury ashes.
(The Church of England has particular regulations about the type of memorial stone which is permitted in the churchyard. These regulations are designed to make sure that the churchyard continues to look beautiful and harmonious, against the backdrop of a listed building and headstones, some of which are over 140 years old. The Parish Office is always happy to answer any questions about the Churchyard. The regulations can be found here: Churchyard regulations )
If there is anything at all we can do to support you through a bereavement, or if you’d like to think about the outline of a funeral when you’re planning for the future, or if you just have a few questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’d be more than happy to help.
Fr Richard Lamey (Rector) 0118 979 2122