Policy and Mission
Firstly, an invitation to all:
We are an English speaking church, of the Anglican Communion, committed to models of love, fellowship and community for all seeking to follow the gospel of Jesus Christ; in a spirit of inclusiveness of all, recognizing diversity and freedom of conscience, and committed to the ethical and social transformation of society where we live and of the whole world. We strive to conduct a liturgy honouring our history, and inspiring holiness, and expressing the greatness of God.
Visit us, connect with us in the spirit of unity, or join us.
You will always be most welcome!
A Christian community, and a family of God
We believe that we are family to each other, and children of the same heavenly Father. God made us; he loves us, and wills for the flourishing and happiness of us all. As Christians, when we are baptised we become part of each other and are bound together by a deep spiritual bond. We live in Christ and he lives in each and all of us.
Community is important; it is an essential expression of ourselves. It is how we support each other to be people of faith, and to serve each other and to serve the world around us.
In our church we seek to express that sense of community in worship, primarily the Eucharist, in social events and in all we do together.
Caring for one another is a key element in our community life. In such a widely scattered Chaplaincy it is essential that we are vigilant in noting who is and who is not at church. We all share this responsibility and must rejoice that we can each do our part in finding out how absent members are doing. To visit those who live close by is not a duty but a joy. The Chaplain is anxious that all feel valued and loved, whether they can attend church or not. He would appreciate being contacted by any who would wish him to visit at home. He would also much love to be told of those of whom he should enquire or visit. He regards it as his joyful responsibility to take the Sacrament to those who for what ever reason are confined to their home and long for this sign of God’s faithful love.
A long established and happy part of our community life is in meeting in the Hut in fellowship after our regular Sunday worship. We love to see the hut used for fellowship, prayer and mutual support, and for chat, laughter and friendship.
There is a handicrafts group, that meets periodically, and a regular Thursday coffee and social morning.
We are Christians and we pray and worship: it is the lifeblood of our lives. So, we take prayer and worship seriously as foundations of everything we do.
We wish to embrace variety, and hope that there is something here for everyone. If you do come along and we aren’t your cup of tea, that is fine – and don’t be afraid to ask what is available elsewhere in the area. We have a relationship with other local Churches and if you let us know what you are looking for, then we can hopefully point you in the right direction.
We believe worship should be dignified and full of reverence and awe as well as accessible and enjoyable and fun. There is provision for Sunday School on the occasions it is required, when the younger members join the service at “the peace” for Communion. There is, on occasions, a more ‘young person’ friendly service on Sundays as announced. We pride ourselves on the mutual respect of all adults and children alike, acutely aware of our responsibilities to safeguarding children and all vulnerable people, making St. Mary’s safe and comfortable for all those who worship with us.
We would also like to develop our commitment to the wider community.
We are proud to be Anglicans, worshiping in a liberal catholic tradition embracive of all traditions and wishing to develop a progressive approach to social issues.
1. We are part of the Church of England (Anglican or Episcopal Church) and we are within the Diocese in Europe.
2. We are welcoming to all people, regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race, physical ability or mental wellbeing and health. God’s love is for us all.
3. We wish to be supportive of all who might feel marginalized or excluded for any reason.
Our faith is good news, for us and for the world.
Being a Christian means that we live our lives in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We seek to deepen our relationship with God in Jesus and to follow the way that Jesus taught in our own lives.
For Christians Jesus is the One in whom we see God face to face, and through His teaching, and by seeking to follow His example, we grow closer to God.
Central to our relationship is the knowledge that we can trust God. Saint Paul says at the end of Romans 8. ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ And this is at the heart of our faith.
We know that ‘God is for us’ because Jesus Christ is the one human being who is wholly in tune with God – with what God wants and what God is doing. He shows us that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Jesus proclaimed this truth, and remained true to it even though it led to rejection of His message and even betrayal by one of those who were closest to Him. Remaining true to the proclamation of God’s acceptance, Jesus was humiliated and executed in agony, as he laid down His life for His friends.
His death did not silence Jesus nor did it destroy the faithfulness of God to us. Instead God restored Jesus to life and in so doing proclaimed that nothing can destroy God’s fidelity to us. The death of Jesus is the ultimate demonstration of God’s total loving commitment to us all, and shows us that what we have seen in Jesus’ words and actions is God’s will for the whole world. His resurrection overwhelmingly tells us of the power of that total loving commitment.
St Paul, in telling us in Romans that nothing can separate us from this love, doesn’t give us an excuse for doing what we like, knowing that we face no judgmental consequences. Once we know that God is ‘for us’, we become alive to the gift that God wants to give us: a share in His own love and freedom and mercy. God judges only in love and understanding, in which we know his mercy.
One of the most famous quotations attributed to St. Irenaeus of Lyon is, “The glory of God is people fully alive”: a vision of God who gives life. The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life: God, who cannot of our own nature be seen, wholly grasped or comprehended, allows himself to be seen, wholly grasped and comprehended by all, that he may give life to those who see and receive him through participation in Him. Participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.
We breathe with God’s breath: a part of what it means to say that we receive God’s ‘Spirit’. The Spirit enables us to live like Jesus, being fully connected with God. If we really take the message seriously, we will live lives of selfless generosity, always asking how the gifts given us; material, imaginative, intuitive, spiritual or whatever, can be shared in a way that brings other people to life in abundance. This encourages us in turn, to be able to trust the generosity of others and be opened to receive what they have to offer to us.
In generosity, gratitude, and in confidence that even when we fall short we are still loved, we are simply focused on the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus. This, in a nutshell, is the beginning in our lifelong vocation of being Christian.
It is through baptism that we become wholly Christian: welcomed into the family of God.
What is Baptism?
Baptism is a principal Sacrament of the Church, given by Jesus, an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible gift of God’s grace. This simply means that as the water of baptism is poured over us, God changes us forever; the Spirit of God comes to live in the heart of the newly baptised, never to be separated again from God.
It is a moment of grace and joy. Through baptism we become members of the Church, which is the body of Christ on earth. As we are changed, we become heirs of the promises of Christ as God’s adopted children. In baptism we receive the new life of the Kingdom of God, in which we will continue to live and grow.
Who may be baptised?
All who have not previously been baptized, may be baptized! Baptism is a onceand-for- all time event.
In the past most children were baptised very early on, as life was the more fragile in a less sophisticated age. These days, most baptisms take place within the first couple of years of a child’s life, though the Church does baptise many older children and an increasing number of adults who were not baptised as children. There is no right or wrong age to be baptised.
Older children and adults are baptised and might immediately be admitted to Holy Communion (able to receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ under the forms of Bread and Wine at the Eucharist) and are expected to proceed to be confirmed (become self affirmed members of the Church of England and the wider Church) at a suitable time after their baptism.
In this Chaplaincy we would ask that, if you wish your child to be baptised, you commit to Sunday worship regularly for a period before the baptism (although we recognize there may be special circumstances in our particular and local European setting). Our chaplain will explain our worship and talk about the meaning of baptism with you, and answer any questions you might have about how you can help your child grow and understand the Christian faith. If you are an adult and wanting to be baptised there will be some appropriate preparation to explore your understanding of baptism and of the Christian faith.
What about Godparents?
Every child has Godparents whose role is to support them as they grow in the Christian faith and to pray for them and their family. When Godchildren are confirmed (become a members of the Church of England and wider Church), their Godparents may present them to the Bishop indicating that their official role is complete.
It is usual to have three Godparents, (two of the same gender and one of the opposite), though you can choose as many more as you wish.
All Godparents must themselves be baptised and you should think carefully about whom you choose, considering their important duty in providing a suitable Christian role model. Ideally they should be Christians who go to church themselves.
You may well have other friends who are not Christian whom you would like to be a part of your child’s life. They cannot be formal Godparents but they can still attend the baptism and be supporters as you raise your child and get involved in all the usual ways.
Adult candidates for baptism do not have Godparents since they are adults and can make Baptismal promises for themselves, however, some people like to have a sponsor, perhaps a close friend, who will support and pray for them as they grow in faith.
What happens in the service?
Baptisms usually take place as part of the normal Sunday morning service. The family and Godparents declare their own faith in God and their belief in Jesus Christ as the One in whom we see God face to face. The congregation welcomes the newly baptised and promises to pray for, and support, the whole family.
The priest blesses water – and the baptism is made ‘In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit’. The priest then makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the baptised as a sign that they now belong to Christ forever. The newly baptised receives a candle, a symbol of the gift of the light of Jesus Christ. We then share “the peace” with each other, a reminder of our unity as members of the same family of baptised children of the one God. The Eucharistic family meal of God’s people is then celebrated.
Communion and Confirmation.
In our Chaplaincy we have examined the strong theological and pastoral reasons to admit baptised members of the church family, and in particular children, to Holy Communion. Theologically this affirms that baptism is a full and complete initiation into the body of Christ and into membership of the church. It also symbolises the fact that the sacrament of communion is given by God through grace and is not earned in any way by good behaviour or by taking a course and receiving a certificate of Confirmation. In pastoral terms, excluding children is an anomaly, if our main worship is a joyous celebration of the Eucharist as the principal celebration of the Easter, or Paschal Mystery, and if its focal point is the shared communion meal, it seems strange to exclude children, who are full members of the church and regular members of Christ’s Body. Bishops of the Church of England have approved the admission of children who have been baptized to receive Holy Communion. This does not replace Confirmation, but is an acknowledgement that participation in the Eucharist is an important aspect of our community, and one in which we welcome children’s participation. Children will, of course be helped to understand what Holy Communion is about, and this will be an introduction to full Confirmation classes, offered when they reach appropriate maturity.
Children wishing to be admitted to Holy Communion
Children wishing to be admitted to Holy Communion in our Chaplaincy:
What we now call Confirmation was originally part of a wider ceremony of Christian initiation and only became a separate rite when bishops were no longer able to preside at all baptisms. As a separate rite, Confirmation marks the point in the Christian journey at which the participation in the life of God’s people, inaugurated at baptism, is confirmed by the bishop by the laying on of hands, and in which those who have been baptised affirm for themselves the faith into which they have been baptised and their intention to live a life of responsible and committed discipleship. Through prayer and the laying on of hands by the confirming bishop, the Church also asks God to give them power through the Holy Spirit to enable them to live in this way. When Confirmation is part of a combined rite including adult baptism it has a slightly different significance. In this case, as in the traditional Western service of initiation mentioned above, the Confirmation element signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit following on from baptism with water. The biblical model for this is Christ’s own baptism in which, the gospels tell us, the Spirit descended on Him when He came up out of the water after having been baptised by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:16-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-33).
According to the Canons (laws) of the Church of England those who receive Holy Communion in the Church of England should either have been confirmed in the Church of England or should be “ready and desire” to be confirmed. It is normal for Confirmation to be followed straight away by Holy Communion, although in cases where Confirmation has not taken place in a candidate’s parish church they may instead take Communion for the first time in that church on the following Sunday.
Marriage and Civil Partnership: Recognition of Commitment
As Christians we believe that loving relationships are a gift from God to be a source of human flourishing and a means of grace.
Jesus showed us a model of committed love through His willingness to sacrifice Himself for us and to die showing us the depth of God’s love. Jesus never said ‘I love you but …’
When we find someone to whom we want to commit our lives, then it is right and proper to want to celebrate that love. In this chaplaincy we want to help and support all who in conscience and fidelity seek to make their loving commitment within the context of their faith and held in the prayerfulness of Holy Church.
In our principal relationship we are called to follow Jesus’ design by loving our partner in a self-sacrificial way, putting the needs of our relationship above our own and always working to deepen our commitment to each other.
If you have found someone with whom you can do this and to whom you wish to make a lifelong commitment then we would welcome the opportunity to celebrate that amazing discovery with you and to mark the love you have found in a way that brings your love before God, the Source Of All love for His blessing and strength.
Can I get married at St. Mary the Virgin, Weldam?
In the Netherlands marriage is regulated by the State under which the marriage contract is sanctioned and legalized in a civil ceremony. The sacrament of marriage should for the Christian Faithful, however, be solemnized and blessed in Church following the civil ceremony. The Church of England at the present time exclusively sanctions the marriage of one man to one woman.
In this Chaplaincy we celebrate all committed faithful relationships and we would welcome any enquiry from any couple to appropriately celebrate with them, within the guidelines issued by the House of Bishops.
It is encouraged to ask for a service of prayer and blessing after Civil Partnership or a service of solemn blessing following a Civil Marriage, so please feel welcome to approach the Chaplain to ask about how we might help you to prayerfully celebrate before the community this most important moment in the relationship of your life. ‘God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them’. We believe and celebrate this truth, which we would want to share with you.
There are a couple of questions often asked by those seeking marriage in Church:
1. One of us has been divorced. Can we still marry in an Anglican Church?
Yes, you can. The Church still believes that marriage should be a lifelong commitment but it is recognised that not all relationships are healthy and life affirming. When a marriage has ended we accept that it is possible to find love again and to want that love blessed in Church. As previously mentioned, in a Netherlands Chaplaincy, the marriage is contracted in a civil ceremony.
2. One of us is not Church of England
You don’t have to be Church of England to marry in a Church of England Church (Anglican Church) – you just need to be willing to have a Church of England wedding service. At least one of you should be baptised.
Funerals: Marking the end of life with dignity and respect
As Christians we believe that death is not to be feared and that the promise of Christ is that life is never lost but is eternal. Marking a death is nonetheless possibly one of the most important things we can ever arrange for another person and for ourselves.
A funeral marks the close of a life on earth and is an opportunity to express grief in personal loss, and an opportunity to give thanks for a life lived and to celebrate that life. In a Christian funeral service we commend the departed to the mercy and love of God, in whom is life and the promise of eternity.
Questions of life and death
Death, dying and funerals raise profound questions about the meaning of life and our ultimate destiny. Jesus Himself believed in a life-giving God: ‘the God of the living, not the dead.’ (Luke 20:38 & Mark 12:27). As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of death over us and that in His resurrection good has defeated evil, and eternal life with God has been made possible.
While what happens to us after we die remains a mystery, as Christians we believe that in death we enter a new life with God. That life has been shown to us in the resurrection of Jesus after His own death and we believe that life in the here and now is also lived in the eternal presence of God’s love. If we draw close to God we are also drawing close to those who now rest in His love.
The funeral service
A funeral service in the Church of England can be very short and quiet with just a few people present or an occasion of great solemnity with music, hymns and a packed church. Each service is unique and shaped both by the God in whom we trust and by the person who has died and the emotions of those who mourn them. It can be within the context of the Eucharist or as a “funeral office”, with readings, prayers, a farewell, a commendation and committal.
Whatever the pattern of the service the words and actions all speak of a loving God and the preciousness to Him of every human person. The service will need to reflect the personality of the one who has died and the circumstances of their death. Feelings of grief and loss, gratitude for the life lived and remembrance of shared events will all join together.
We can help in planning a service that will capture what is envisaged and required to help in expressing personal feelings. The ‘set form’ can be adapted – which means that the basics will always be covered and you will not have to worry about making sure that all is done properly and in order. We encourage personal reflections, memories and stories; you can choose hymns, songs and readings that reflect the circumstances of the person who has died; and we can make suggestions about what others have found helpful in shaping what you want to say.
Arranging a funeral
Our Chaplaincy recognizes that everyone has the right to a funeral and the local chaplain is willing to take part – even if the deceased didn’t attend Church or wasn’t overtly religious. That service can be arranged at St Mary’s Chapel or in a cemetery or crematorium chapel and we will always be willing to assist. Helping plan and take funeral services is an important element of our service to the local community and we will help in any way that we can. We are here for you, with prayer, conversation and support if you need it.
MUSIC is a key part of worship and we have wonderful organists who aid our worship a great deal.
If you are a singer or play an instrument and would like to join in the offering of musical worship then please do be in touch – we would be delighted to hear from you. We would love to mix and match styles and repertoire rather more than we do at present.
GIVING: Did you know that the Church of England, including this chaplaincy, receives no funding from the Netherlands or any Government?
As a chaplaincy it is our responsibility to raise the funds we need for the support and mission of the Church. Part of this is achieved through stewardship – that is the amount that we as members of the chaplaincy commit as part of our spiritual discipline to share in the overall existence and mission of the chaplaincy. Some of our stewardship is offered through our time and talents – while part of our stewardship will be a financial offering. We are asked and expected to contribute to the costs of being part of the Diocese in Europe, with its infrastructure, Bishops and other central officials and personnel.
How you give regularly to our Church can make a big difference – beyond the actual amount you give. The most efficient way to give is by monthly Standing Order. It enables our treasury team to plan our budget effectively, knowing what money is coming in each month. We are inviting you to give regularly to your church in this way. It has advantages for you as well: you will be happy and relaxed in the knowledge you are supporting the work for Christ’s Church here even if you can’t make it to Church every week.
If you are hesitating from making your regular giving through a Standing Order because you want to put something in the collection plate when it is presented on a Sunday, we have two suggestions:
• We will provide you with cards at each service so you can place this on the offering plate, indicating that you are already giving ;or
• If you find it hard to commit to a set amount each month, or are unsure how much you can commit to initially, complete the Standing Order for a smaller amount and this can be combined with ad hoc giving as well, so that you can make additional contributions on the offering plate on those weeks when you want to donate more.
Some people have asked how much they should give, and this is a hard question to answer.
Each person’s circumstances will vary and you must make a decision best suited to your personal finances. But the underlying principle should be one of generosity. If each of us gave 10 euro a week as a minimum we would almost not have to worry about money again in this Chaplaincy, so long as we continued our other annual efforts, at the Castle Fair, and so on. Of Course, some of us can afford to give much more while others still struggle. All we ask is that you please do think carefully about the level at which you can and will support your Church.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
“What can I give him, poor as I am,
If I were a shepherd I would bring a lamb
If I were a wise man I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him, give my heart.”