St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, Morden (Roman Catholic)

I could only find information of any length on the history of this church on a single webpage, which also goes into far more detail on the architecture and layout of the building than I could ever have managed from my notes. As the usual “History” and “Appearance” sections  of the review would therefore have been effectively no more than paraphrases of the information on said webpage, I thought it more appropriate to simply provide a link to it:

http://taking-stock.org.uk/Home/Dioceses/Archdiocese-of-Southwark/St-Teresa-and-the-Child-Jesus-Morden

Clergy

The service was taken by a priest in a white cassock and green stole, and a deacon dressed in a similar manner. There were about twelve or thirteen young altar servers, boys and girls, who took part in the processions at the beginning and the end of the Mass.

Congregation

The congregation was too large for me to accurately count, but I estimated there to be at least 120 people there – too many for them to all fit in the nave, with several spending the service out in the narthex.

There was a relatively even number of men and women in the congregation. A large proportion of those in the congregation were of an ethnic minority, perhaps about one half or three fifths. Although there were several elderly parishioners, most of the congregation was young or middle-aged.

Service

The church has two Sunday morning services, one at 9 a.m. and another at 11 a.m. I attended the latter, which followed (as did I assume the 9 a.m. service, there being no indication to the contrary) the Mass of Paul VI, the order of service ordinarily used, which has a basic structure of introductory prayers, Bible readings, communion, and concluding prayers. There were also some hymns sung during the service.

The Bible readings were from Amos 7:12-15, Ephesians 1:3-14, and Mark 6:7-13. Psalm 84 was also sung with responses. The sermon was given by the deacon after the gospel reading, and focused on the “unclean spirits” we should aim to cast out of our own lives; he made it clear that he understood the spirits in the gospel reading to refer to illnesses and addictions, not actual demons.

The priest made some announcements before a closing hymn, and the Mass ended with a procession to the entrance of the church. The service lasted one hour.

Afterwards

The priest and deacon stood at the entrance after the service, saying goodbye to parishioners as they left. Several stayed in the nave, praying privately or talking to friends. There were no refreshments available.

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St Peter’s, St Helier (Anglican)

History

St Peter’s was built in 1932, as the parish church of the nearby St Helier Estate*. A church centre was opened by the Queen Mother and the Bishop of Southwark in November 1960.

Appearance

The exterior of St Peter’s is notable for a mural on the front which the church website admits is “rather garish”. I think it is meant to represent the Holy Spirit flowing through a city. The interior is rather more plain. There are white walls, with a dark red cross hanging from the ceiling. A side-chapel is on the left of the church, separated from the main nave by pillars with prayer requests stuck to them.

At the very front of the church, below two rows of three long arched windows, is a banner with the emblem “Jesus Reigns”. In front of this is the altar, on which is placed two candles and a Bible.

The church website quite accurately describes the interior as “light and airy”.

Clergy

The service was taken by a woman vicar, who came across as very warm and friendly, and spoke very well during the service despite a young child who was noisily running around next to her for much of it! The Bible reading was given by a man who came up from the congregation to read it.

Congregation

The congregation numbered just over thirty. About twenty were elderly or middle-aged, and some of the younger ones were from ethnic minorities. There were four or five young children, who stayed with their parents during the service.

Service

There are two Sunday morning services, a “reflective” and “traditional” one at 9:30 and an “informal” and “lively” one at 11:15. I attended the latter of these, which on the first Sunday of the month is a communion service.

The service started with the vicar giving notices and announcements, followed by a song (the words to which were projected onto a screen at the front, and accompanied by music played over the sound system) and a prayer. The was then an activity for the children, who came up to the front and were asked to distinguish between different sources of light: matches, a torch, and a picture of the sun. This introduced the theme of the service, light, with the vicar speaking about John 8:12, Jesus being the light of the world.

After prayers of confession, a Christian music video comparing Christ to a lighthouse was shown on the screen, after which the gospel reading was given. This was Matthew 5:14-16, which speaks about how Christians are also “the light of the world”. The sermon followed, on how we can spread the light of Christ in the world, illustrated with some Christmas lights and a diagram on a whiteboard.

After another song, there came prayers of intercession. These were followed by a third song, after which prayers for preparing for communion were said, including the Lord’s Prayer and the sharing of the peace. Communion was taken with members of the congregation approaching the front to receive the bread and wine or a blessing.

Communion was followed by another prayer, after which there was a final song and a blessing.

The service lasted an hour and fifteen minutes.

Afterwards

I had to leave soon after the service finished, and so didn’t stay for very long afterwards. However, I stayed for long enough to see some of the members of the congregation go through a door in the side of the church to a small hall, where it looked like a meal was being prepared. Furthermore, a baptism preparation session of some sort was also being held afterwards.

 

*A note on location: this church is situated on the road dividing Carshalton from Morden. Although it technically falls within the boundaries of Carshalton, it uses Morden on its postal address. However, it seems to usually be referred to as being situated in St Helier, a large housing estate which straddles the boundary between the two towns. I’ve therefore tagged this review in all three locations, while using St Helier in the title.