Holy Trinity, Roehampton (Anglican)

The church was built over two years, completed and opening in 1898, and replaced an earlier church built in 1842. It has held a strong ecumenical link with the nearby Roehampton Methodist Church in the form of the “Roehampton Ecumenical Parish” for over thirty years.

The 230-foot tall spire of the church is a local landmark and a well-known feature of Roehampton. The church is large, and the height of the building gives the impression to one inside that the church is even larger than it actually is.

The inside is softly lit, but not dim, creating a calming atmosphere. The interior is well-decorated, with stained-glass windows depicting saints lining the walls, and mosaics of the Annunciation and Nativity at the back. Above the ornate altar are two mosaics, one of the Crucifixion and another of the Last Supper. These are beneath a stained glass window, and the whole sanctuary area is separated from the nave by two tall thin stone pillars. Large pillars also line the aisles either side of the nave.

Near the front is a large marble pulpit, in front of which were lots of items of tinned and packaged food, presumably from a recent harvest festival. A large font is situated in a richly decorated baptisty in a back corner of the church.

The service was led by a male vicar dressed in green, gold and red vestments, who wore his hand-held microphone in a manner that reminded me somewhat of a pectoral cross. He spoke with me afterwards and I found him to be very friendly. The minister of the Methodist congregation that this church has close ties with was there at the start of the service and gave the opening notices before having to leave for his own church, and another vicar in white vestments with a green stole gave the sermon and gospel reading. A choir of nine people in white robes spent most of the service in the sanctuary, coming out to take part in the processions, and a man from the congregation gave the Old Testament and Epistle readings.

The congregation numbered somewhere between sixty and seventy, although the lady sitting next to me told me that most Sundays it was more like forty. The Mayor of Wandsworth and the MP for Putney were both in attendance due to today being United Nations Sunday, a day celebrated by some churches on the Sunday closest to 24 October (the UN foundation date) in support of the objectives of the UN in attempting to bring about worldwide peace and co-operation.

The majority of the congregation would have been in their forties or older; I only saw five people who I would say were younger than thirty. There was a roughly equal proportion of male to female, and just under a dozen people of an ethnic minority.

The service I attended was the weekly 10am parish eucharist. As I entered I was given an order of service, a booklet with the Bible readings, and a Hymns and Psalms hymn book. The service began with an announcement from the visiting Methodist minister concerning a church away-weekend next year, and we then sung the first hymn as the vicar and choir processed around the church with a large gold cross. Prayers were said, including prayers of confession and the Gloria, after which the Old Testament and Epistle readings were given by a member of the congregation – Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18 and 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 – the latter immediately following on from the former.

After the second hymn, it was time for the gospel reading. Some of the members of the choir again processed out of the sanctuary, holding candles, and a young boy from the congregation was handed a gospel book and joined them. They then stood in the middle of the nave and the vicar with the green stole gave the reading from the gospel book, Matthew 22:34-46. After this, he gave the sermon from the pulpit, focusing on fixing things when they break and finding ample opportunity to tie this topic in with the Sunday’s theme of the United Nations. After the sermon, the congregation said the Western version of the Nicene Creed, followed by prayers of intercession for the world.

We then shared the peace and sung another hymn before eucharistic prayers (including the Lord’s Prayer) were said, followed by most of the congregation going up to the front to recieve communion. Some final notices were then given, and after a blessing the closing hymn was sung, during which the choir processed out of a side-door.

I regret to say that I failed to take note of when the service finished, but I can say that it was between one hour and an hour and a half.

Tea, coffee, orange squash and biscuits were served at the back of the church after the service. In celebration of a parishioner’s 90th birthday, slices of cake and even some small glasses of wine were also available. Most of the congregation stayed for the refreshments, and several of them – including the presiding vicar – engaged me in conversation before I had to leave.

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