Revision of service patterns and times across the Saffron Walden and Villages Team Ministry

1st Sunday Communion 6 Nov 202In March 2020, we prepared a profile of our team in preparation for appointing a new Team Rector. At that time we were blessed with the ministry of 2 full time priests, 2 house for duty priests and 2 associate priests.  Since then one of the house for duty priests has retired and has not yet been replaced and the associate priests have also retired. We have been able to maintain our service pattern post-covid by relying more and more heavily on the wonderful goodwill of our retired priests.  This is clearly not sustainable in the longer term so over the last few months our Team Council and PCCs have been consulting on a revised schedule of services across the team that will enable our licensed clergy to take most of our core services.

From 1st January 2023:

At Saffron Walden the main Sunday morning service will take place at 10.30am with refreshments provided before. There is also a change in the pattern, with an informal communion service on the 2nd Sunday of the month and our Family Service now on the 4th Sunday of each month. The 8am BCP Communion on Sunday and the weekday services will continue as normal. There is also a change in the regular pattern of  Sunday evening services; Sunday evening communion and evening prayer will no longer be scheduled. However, H2H, our youth led service to which all are invited, will continue on the 1st Sunday evening, Choral Evensong on the 2nd Sunday, a Taizé style service on the 4th Sunday and either a Taizé or Celtic style worship on the 5th Sunday evening.

On Sunday 1st January, there will be a United Team Communion at 10.30am at Saffron Walden with no other services across the team that day. Service patterns will be adapted to accommodate the special festivals and these will be publicised as usual on the website and the Grapevine.

At Little Walden and Sewards End the regular Sunday services will now start at 10.30am and take place on the 1st and 3rd Sunday for St James' and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday for St John's.

The approach to this consultation laid down some key principles for the whole team:

•    Core Sunday services will be either at 9am or 10.30am  - this will enable clergy to take services at two different churches.
•    As a minimum, all churches in the team will hold two core morning services each month, one of which will be a communion service.  St Mary’s, Saffron Walden and All Saints, Great Chesterford will have a more frequent service pattern reflecting the greater populations.
•    Services that attract a specific but generally small congregation will continue to be held in one location where there is a demand: those who favour that service style would be expected to travel to a church within the team to attend, eg Book of Common Prayer services, Choral Evensong. These will generally be at a ‘non-core’ service time eg. 8am or afternoon/evening.
•    Regular ‘joint services’ will be held eg. annual team service, monthly or quarterly joint services between linked churches. On these occasions, some regular services may be cancelled to encourage congregations to meet together for joint worship.
•    Licensed ministers will work alongside local lay teams in all the churches supporting them in leading non-eucharistic worship .

We hope that these changes will enable greater capacity for licensed ministers and and lay teams to engage more effectively with our communities and encourage new forms of worship whilst maintaining a secure pattern of services for all our congregations.

The new service patterns will start in January 2023 – with a Joint team service at St Mary’s Saffron Walden at 10.30am on New Year’s Day.  Full details of services in all the churches will be made available on websites, the bulletin, magazines and the Grapevine over the coming weeks so do double check before heading out!  We hope you will enjoy the new patterns and variety being provided.