All Saints, Hackbridge (Anglican)

History

A temporary church was founded nearby or on the current site in 1893. The current church, designed by architect H.P. Burke-Downing, was completed and consecrated in 1931.

Appearance

The main front window has a large plastic board over it for insulation, and much of the grass in the church grounds is very long – this gave the unfortunate first impression that the bulding was boarded up! I later found out that the unkempt grass is deliberate, with the intention to create a small meadow-like area for wildlife by the church in the middle of an urban area.

The inside of the church is rather sparsely decorated, with white walls and mostly plain windows. A crucifix is behind the lectern, and a small icon of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem hangs at the back of the church, near a font. At the very front of the church is an altar in front of a golden curtain, with a cross and two candles placed on top of it. A smaller table stands in front of this with a Bible on.

The most richly decorated part of the church is the Lady Chapel, to the left of the chancel. This has stained glass windows, a statue of Mary, and various banners leaning up against the wall.

Clergy

The service was led by a very friendly vicar named Andrew. He wore green vestments with a golden cross on it during the service, and a shirt with clerical collar before and afterwards. Noting that I had not been to the church before, he put a lot of greatly appreciated effort into making me feel welcome, inviting me to sit nearer the front and talking to me after the service.

Congregation

The congregation was about thirty people strong, not counting five children who went out during the service to do their own supervised activities (more on that later). There was a good mix of age, gender and ethnicity, as well as a real sense of  community. The congregation was very friendly and welcoming, just as the vicar was.

Service

As I entered the church I was handed a hymn book, a pamphlet with the order of service for communion, and a sheet of paper with the readings and some of the prayers printed on it. The service started with a hymn, followed by prayers, a recital of Psalm 32, and a few short songs, during one of which some of the children went out to another room.

The first reading was from Galatians (2:15-21), and the second was from Luke (7:36-8:3). The sermon reflected these readings, being on the topics of faith, works and forgiveness. The sermon must have been at least fifteen minutes long, but was not boring thanks to the engaging way in which the vicar gave it, including interesting information about Judean social life and anecdotes about hairstyles.

Prayers followed the sermon, including a recital of the Apostles’ Creed, after which communion was held with the congregation going up to kneel at the front of the church to recieve communion or a blessing. After communion, the “Young Church” – five children who had gone out of the service earlier with some supervising adults – came back in. They showed the congregation what they had been doing to a round of applause; they had been discussing baptism and made a large poster of the baptism of Jesus.  The service finished with announcements and a final hymn.

My previous review having been at the relatively “high” service at Carshalton All Saint’s, I was expecting something similar with sung prayers and people crossing themselves. However, this is a comparatively “low” church – the prayers were all spoken, and I only saw one man cross himself (a grand total of two times).

The service lasted roughly an hour.

Afterwards

Teas, coffees, fruit squash and biscuits were served at the back of the church after the service ended. The majority of the congregation stayed behind for quite some time talking to one another, demonstrating that sense of friendly community I had come to get a sense for from this congregation.

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