Our Lady of Pity and St Simon Stock, Putney – Roman Catholic

History and appearance

The church building was constructed in 1906, with the sanctuary added in 1936. This article goes into a lot of details about the specifics of the church’s history, architecture, and the features of the inside.

Clergy

The service was led by a priest in green and white vestments, assisted by an altar server in red. A gentleman from the congregation in plain clothes gave the first two Bible readings, and a lady in choir dress sang the Gloria and the responsive psalm. A choir of about a dozen accompanied the hymns from the organ gallery, and a lady from the congregation helped the priest give out communion.

Congregation

The congregation numbered just over a hundred, with a roughly 2:1 female-male ratio. There was a wide age range, with several families and young people, and a good proportion (about a quarter to a third) of people from an ethnic minority. The congregation seemed friendly, with the people who joined me on the pew I chose welcoming me to the church, and a real sense of community was evident in the way both in which people greeted each other upon entering the church and talked to each other after the service.

Service

I attended the Sunday morning 11:15 am Mass. This followed the Pauline Mass or Ordinary Form structure, observed by the majority of Roman Catholic churches.

The service started with the priest, the altar server, and the reader processing to the sanctuary to an opening hymn. After prayers of penitence and the Gloria, there were Bible readings: I Kings 3:5-12, Romans 8:28-30, parts of Psalm 119 (sung responsively), and Matthew 13:44-52. Unlike in other Roman Catholic churches I have been to, I did not notice any incense being burnt during the Gospel reading, although it was otherwise accompanied by the usual acclamations and read by the priest himself.

The sermon followed the theme of what we hold to be valuable (the Kings reading being Solomon asking for wisdom above anything else, and the Gospel reading comparing the kingdom of heaven to a pearl of great price). The priest related the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls as an example of finding an archaeological treasure, and asked us to consider what we hold dearest to our hearts in our own lives. There was then a collection, during which a second hymn was sung.

Thereafter followed communion, preceded by prayers (including the Lord’s Prayer) and the Creed. Most of the congregation took communion, although some stayed in their seats. After communion, the priest read out some notices, and blessed the congregation before processing to the entrance of the church with the altar server while a final hymn was sung.

Afterwards

Immediately after the service ended, the organist played a piece on the organ, which many members of the congregation stayed behind to listen to, clapping at the end. Tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes were available in a church hall which had a door leading out into a garden for the children.

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St Margaret’s, Putney (Anglican)

Photo0702History

The church was built in 1859 as a Baptist chapel, and was later used by Presbyterians. It was given to the Church of England in 1912 and dedicated to St Margaret, and was expanded in 1925 after having become a parish of its own in 1923.

Appearance

The interior of the church has whitewashed walls, with several memorial plaques on them. At the front of the church stands the altar, underneath a stained glass window depicting Christ. To the left of the sanctuary area is the pulpit, above which is a crucifix, whereas on the right of the sanctuary is a pipe organ.

A large bookshelf full of books was on the left-hand side of the church, mid-way between the sanctuary and the back (not visible on the photograph) – I did not inspect this more closely, but it looked like a small church library that may have been donated or bequeathed to the church.

It being Advent, the drapes over the altar and pulpit were purple.

Clergy

The service was led by a friendly female vicar who wore a white cassock with a purple stole. There was also a small choir of five, and three readers who wore white cassocks with blue stoles.

Congregation

The congregation, which was predominantly white, numbered roughly 45, although the vicar did mention that there had been a lower turnout than most Sundays. There were more women than men – although not disproportionately so – and most of the congregation (other than five or six young children) looked to be over thirty.

Service

I attended the 10:00 am morning service.

The service started with a prayer and an opening hymn, during which the vicar, readers and choirs walked up the central aisle to the sanctuary area. After another prayer, a candle on the Advent wreath was lit (it being the first Sunday in Advent) by a child from the congregation. He then went out with the other children to their own activities being held in the church hall.

There were then prayers of penitence, followed by the first set of readings. The Old Testament reading was Jeremiah 33:14-16, and the Epistle reading was 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. They were given from the pulpit by a man from the congregation.

After another hymn came the Gospel reading, Luke 21:25-36. This, and the sermon which followed, were given by one of the readers. The sermon was topical for the first Sunday of Advent, talking about expectations of the future and of the Second Coming.

The Nicene Creed was then read, followed by prayers of intercession. The congregation then shared the sign of peace with each other, after which O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – my favourite Advent hymn – was sung. Pre-communion prayers were then said, including the Lord’s Prayer and the Agnus Dei, after which communion was served at the front of the church while the choir sang an anthem.

After some more prayers, the vicar gave some notices, and then the children came back in from their activities, and presented the congregation with some Advent posters they had made. The service then ended with a concluding hymn.

The service lasted about an hour and ten minutes.

Afterwards

After the service, coffee and cakes were served in the church hall. There was also a stall available with various Fairtrade goods for sale.

Putney Methodist Church

History

The current Methodist congregation in Putney can be said to have been founded in March 1865, with previous communities formed in the 1840s having by then died out. The foundation stones of the church building – the congregation having previously rented rooms to worship in – were laid in November 1881, and it was opened on 4 May 1882. The church was made a Grade II listed building in 1983.

Appearance

The exterior of the church is in the Gothic style.

The interior is divided in two parts by a screen; almost half of the inside is comprised of an open space where refreshments were served after the service, which took place in the half of the church adjoining the sanctuary area. The screen has small flags on, which represent the countries of origin of members of the congregation.

On the wall at the front of the church is a large white Celtic cross (obscured by light in the photograph to the right), on either side of which are stained glass windows showing scenes from the life of Jesus.

There is a wooden table in place of an altar, on which is placed a Bible, flowers, and the offering plate, and two lecterns stand on either side of it.

Two large projector screens flank the sanctuary area, and displayed the words to hymns and to the confirmation part of the service. The church has a lovely wooden ceiling, with carved brackets for the rafters.

Clergy

The service was led by a male minister, dressed in a black suit with a clerical collar. A lady from the congregation came up to give the Bible readings.

Congregation

The clergy numbered just under sixty people, not including the eight younger children who went out during the service. A large proportion of the congregation were relatively elderly, the ratio of females to males was about 2:1, and there were several people from ethnic minorities. There may have been more people there than usual, due to the confirmations which took place during the service I visited.

Service

I attended the 10:30 morning service.

The service started with the minister welcoming the congregation and leading it in prayers and an opening hymn. He then asked us to think of things we were grateful for, and led prayers of thanksgiving for the things which the congregation had mentioned: family, music, and plants, to name a few. A second hymn followed during which some of the younger children left the congregation to do their own activities in a room at the back, after which notices were read out by a member of the congregation while an offering was taken.

A lady from the congregation then came up to the front to give the Bible readings. These were Jonah 3:1-5, 10 (the repentance of Nineveh) and Mark 1:14-20 (the start of Christ’s ministry in Galilee). The sermon followed, the latter half of which was on the subject of personal faith triumphing over proof or probability, but the first half of which went into great detail on The Theory of Everything; I’m afraid I found any links the minister was trying to make between the film and the readings somewhat tangential at best.

After another hymn, prayers for the world were said, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer. There then followed the confirmation of four younger members of the congregation into the Methodist Church; they came up to the front and made promises, and the minister and congregation said prayers for them. The children who had gone out of the service earlier then came back in, and showed the congregation a banner they had made which read “Team Jesus”, an affirmation of unity in Christ for those who weren’t yet full members of the church. This was followed by a final hymn, and the service ended with the congregation saying grace to each other.

The service lasted just over an hour.

Afterwards

After the service, tea, coffee, fruit juice and cake was served in the back half of the church, where tables and chairs were laid out.