Sunday worship at the Chapel

If you have never been to church or Chapel before, these questions might help you understand what to expect if you come along on a Sunday morning. Everyone is welcome - you don’t need to be a "churchy person" or even a Christian.

If you have more general questions about the Chapel, visit our Chapel FAQ page.

Sort of, yes. It is most like a church on a Sunday morning when we have our regular worship. At other times the way the Chapel functions is different from a typical church – for example it’s used for student groups like the Christian Union, and university events such as concerts and graduations. Another difference is that we seek to make students and staff of other faiths welcome too. But if you think of the university as a village and the Chapel as a village church that is open to all, that’s not far off.

No! That’s completely normal and lots of our regulars will have felt that way at some time or another. Come along anyway and hopefully we can put you at ease! If you are a student, university is a great time to explore something different. What have you got to lose?

The fact that you have asked this question shows that you have given the matter some thought. Churches are full of people who would give very different answers to the question of what they believe. In worship we join each other and the faith of the strong encourages the faith of the uncertain, just as the questions of the doubters challenge the confident. No one has all the answers, but if we come with open minds, then from our different perspectives we can be a gift to each other.

Not at all! None of us come because we are “good enough” - in fact, Jesus was pretty critical of those who thought they were and praised those who recognised how much they needed God. One of the beautiful things about Christianity is God’s free gift of forgiveness – this is a gift which is all about making a fresh start.

Yes! Children are very welcome indeed, and we won’t mind if they make a noise either! We have some teenagers and children who come along at present but don’t often have many, so we don’t have any separate children’s groups or “Sunday School”. But if you and your family join us, we might just start one!

The Chapel has level access, an accessible toilet and a loop system for those using hearing aids. If there is anything in addition that we might do to make our service more accessible to you please speak to one of the chaplains.

YES. Emphatically YES. You are abundantly welcome to join us, and if you would like to, to both receive and contribute in all the ways that everyone else does. That includes same-sex couples. The only limitation on this is that sadly at present, we are not legally allowed to marry same-sex couples in the Chapel. In all our teaching, services and practice we do our very best to be inclusive.

Yes! Absolutely yes. All we ask is that you are respectful in the way that you speak and act towards others, as we would ask of everyone – and that if you have any questions, concerns or observations that you raise them with one of the chaplains rather than with anyone else.

Mass (12.30pm) is a Catholic service, but anyone is welcome to go along. It is a bit more formal and structured than TEN:15 (10.15am), so you might prefer it if you like that sort of thing. TEN:15 is what the church calls an “ecumenical service” which means that draws on the traditions of a mix of Christian churches – specifically Church of England, Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Church. Mass is always a service of Holy Communion, whereas about half of the TEN:15 services are Communion. If you’re not sure, try both and see which you prefer!

Most of our regulars turn up less than five minutes before the service starts, and quite a few a minute or two late! We don’t always start exactly on time… You are welcome to come earlier if you like, the team will be there setting up, but if you want to just slip in quietly then arriving as close as you can to the start time is your best bet.

Sure! There’s tea and coffee served at the end but if you can’t wait that long then come via Greggs... or come a bit early and make yourself one in the Chapel kitchen!

Hopefully someone will say hello to you; just come in and take a seat. In term time we are almost always in the Main Chapel; in vacations we are more often in the smaller East Chapel (the one nearest the Forest of Light).

Absolutely wherever you like! On average more people sit nearer the back than the front, so if you are feeling self-conscious, somewhere in the back half of the Chapel is probably the safest bet.

Only if you feel like it! Wear whatever you feel comfortable in.

Usually about an hour – Mass is almost always the same length while TEN:15 is sometimes less, sometimes more depending on what’s going on but never more than 90 minutes. Then there’s usually coffee and biscuits afterwards if you want to stay. If you need or want to slip out before the service ends, please feel free – no one will take offense.

Our regulars are a mix of students and non-students – a few current or retired staff, and some local people who have simply chosen to worship with us. In university vacation time obviously we have very few students. Numbers vary a lot but typically we have between twenty and forty people and TEN:15 and a few more at Mass, especially in term time.

The person leading the service will always announce what’s happening and any parts of the service that most people stand up for – but if you prefer to sit throughout, that’s absolutely fine. If we are going read or sing something together all the words will be either projected on a screen or printed for you. The service leader will explain what to do, but you don’t have to join in if you would rather not.

We try very hard not to but sometimes we slip up! That’s partly why we have written these FAQs. You will certainly be able to join in with things even if there’s the odd word or reference that might leave you a little puzzled. If that happens, please do ask someone sitting near you or one of the chaplains after the service. We love questions because it shows someone was paying attention! There is no shame at all in not knowing, and you will be helping us to notice any bits of our services that are not accessible to newcomers so that we can fix them.

Yes, we sing a mixture of traditional hymns and more contemporary songs at both our services; we use piano, guitar and sometimes the organ. The words will be projected on a screen at TEN:15 or in hymn books at Mass. Some of our regulars love singing and join in with gusto! Some mumble along quietly; others choose not to sing at all. If you know or can pick up the tune and want to join in, that’s lovely – but it’s equally fine just to listen.

Yes, all our services will include at least one and often two or three passages from the Bible, read aloud from the front. Sometimes we say (or at Mass, even sing) parts of the Bible together – usually poems called psalms (the ‘p’ is silent). At TEN:15 the words of the reading will be projected on the screen for people to follow. We use a modern English translation that is hopefully easy to understand.

The Christian Bible is not one book but a library of sixty-six books, and includes history, prophecy, biography, poetry, stories and letters. Each book of the bible is divided into short numbered chapters, and each chapter into verses – this numbering system is not part of the original text but was added by editors to help us find our way around. So you will hear us announce the reading by saying the name of the book of the Bible that it comes from, followed by the chapter and then the verses: for example, “A reading from the book of Genesis, chapter one, verses one to twenty-seven”, which would be written down as Genesis 1: 1-27.

Almost all our services include a talk or reflection of some kind (often called a sermon) in which we explore whatever Bible readings we have heard that morning, and apply them to our lives today. This varies from about 5-15 minutes long. Our aim is for our talks to be encouraging and inspiring – sometimes they might be challenging too, but we do not believe that anything good comes from telling you off, frightening you or making you feel rubbish about yourself, so we will not be doing any of that.

Sometimes we invite everyone to say a prayer together. The words will always either be projected on a screen or printed on a service sheet – you will never be expected to just know them off by heart. It’s completely fine to either join in or not as you prefer. Maybe you are not sure what you believe or if you feel able to say those particular words. All of us feel that way sometimes, even if we’ve been coming to church for years! It’s not rude if you choose not to say it, and it’s not hypocritical if you say it even though you’re not sure you believe it. Prayer is simply talking to God, and God understands!

Amen is a Hebrew word that means something like, “Let it be so”. So if one person says a prayer in a service, everyone else expresses their agreement and, in effect, prays the same prayer by saying Amen at the end. If you agree with the prayer you are welcome to say Amen too.

Quite a lot of our TEN:15 services include Holy Communion, and Mass always does. This is when we share bread and wine together, remembering that Jesus did that with his friends on the night before he died.

At TEN:15, everyone who would like to is welcome to receive bread (often little wafers) and wine; to make this as inclusive as we can, our bread is gluten-free and at least some of the wine will be non-alcoholic. If you would rather not receive bread and wine but would like a very short prayer of blessing instead, that is fine – or you can simply not join in at all. Whoever is leading the service will give instructions on how that will be done.

At Mass, only Catholics will receive the bread and the wine, while others are very welcome to receive a blessing – how this happens will be explained in the service. The wine at Mass is alcoholic, but if that is an issue you are welcome to just receive the bread.

Most of our regulars will receive bread and wine but some choose not to for a variety of reasons. If you aren’t sure do talk to one of the chaplains who can explain in more detail and help you to work out what is right for you.

We have a collection box and contactless payment system at our services, but there is no need or obligation to contribute. If you are new to all this, please do not feel you have to give any money at all – just come and receive. If you start coming to the Chapel regularly, you may want to consider regular financial giving but there is no pressure, especially for students. Most of our regular giving happens via direct debits so you may notice that a lot of the regulars do not use the collection point at the service.

The person leading the service will make it very clear – our services usually end with notices and a prayer of blessing. People will sometimes spend a few moments in a quiet prayer, and there may be some music or just a brief quiet pause before people start chatting or moving around.

There is tea and coffee served so you can stay and chat if you’d like to. Some people stay while others leave straight away – sometimes grabbing a biscuit as they do so!

We’re a friendly bunch and do our very best to spot new faces and come and say hello. If we fail, please introduce yourself!

We’re a friendly bunch so it’s highly likely that at least one person will say hello. If you’d really rather not speak to anyone, simply tell whoever speaks to you that you’d like to just sit quietly for a bit and they will leave you in peace. Otherwise, the best thing is to arrive just as the service starts and slip out as soon as we finish. No one will mind!

Simply by coming along! We don’t have any formal membership list, but do let us know if you think you’re likely to worship with us regularly so that we can look out for you. Equally if you only come from time to time, or mix it up with going to another church that’s fine too. We will be glad to see you whenever you’re here, and (apart from maybe checking that you’re okay!) we will not ask you why you’re absent. If you want to be kept in touch with events in the life of the Chapel we have an email list and a Facebook page

Definitely! Depending on what you enjoy doing you might read one of the readings, play or sing as part of leading the music, help to welcome people as they arrive or serve tea and coffee etc.. Just speak to one of the chaplains if you would like to join in. If you start coming regularly we might ask you if you’d like to do one of those things, but it’s always fine to say “No” if you’d rather not.

We would love to help you! Just speak to one of the chaplaincy team.

We would love to help you! Just speak to one of the chaplaincy team.