FAQ Do you have a question about the Parish of Finchampstead and California?

This page aims to provide answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about our parish and the churches within it. If you can’t find the answer to your question here or elsewhere on our web site please do not hesitate to Contact Us

Weddings    Baptisms    Funerals    Attending Services    Electoral Roll    Parish
St James Church Centre    St Mary and St John Parish Centre


How can I arrange a wedding at St James’ church?

  • Enquiries regarding weddings can be made to our Parish Office.  Please our Weddings page for further information about getting married at St James’ Church.



How can I arrange a baptism at St James’ church?



How can I arrange a funeral at St James’ church?


Attending Services

I’d like to attend a church service. Do I just turn up?

  • Yes, just turn up, preferably 10 – 15 minutes before the service is due to start so that the welcomers (sidespeople) can give you the service sheet/book you’ll need and make sure you find a seat. Look at the Worship section to see a short description of the different services so that you can choose the style of service you think you will like.

I haven’t been confirmed (prepared to receive communion and presented to the Bishop). May I attend a Communion service?

  • Everyone is welcome to attend a Communion service. Our main 11am service each Sunday at St James’ is a Communion service but it includes many other elements – hymns, prayers, bible readings, a talk (sermon). You can also go up to the altar rail with everyone else and you will receive a blessing. Just remember to take a service sheet with you to signal to the minister and helper that you are there to be blessed and not to receive the bread and wine. Communion services are also held at St Mary and St John’s church at 9.30 every Sunday at which you will be most welcome.

Can I bring my children to church?

  • Children are welcome. However we realise that some of the services are rather long for the children and some of you may feel self-conscious if your children are noisy. Therefore we have services and activities specially designed for the children.
  • Each Sunday at St James’ church there is a there is a short service at 9.30am especially for families with young children. The children are even encouraged to be noisy as ‘the orchestra’ during the hymns with shakers and other instruments. The talk is particularly directed to the children, or to the adults with activities for the children. 7-11’s in term-time can go to ‘Breakers’ with activities for older children.  There is a family communion on the 3rd Sunday of each month.
  • At the 11am St James’ church service each Sunday during term time, children have their own age-related clubs (‘Paddlers’ for 3-7’s and ‘Surfers’ for 8-12’s).  You can drop your children off at St James Parish Centre at 10.45am.  The children then come in to join their families for the last part of the service.
  • At St Mary & St John’s church (at Gorse Ride Junior School) there is a child-friendly Fun, Friends and Fellowship@11 at 11am on the 1st Sunday of the month and Family Communion at 9.30am on the 3rd Sunday.  During the other 9.30am services (2nd, 4th, 5th Sundays) there is ‘Navigators'(all ages) meeting in the classrooms and then joining their families for the last part of the service.

Do I need to bring any money to church? Is there a charge for coming into church?

  • There is no charge for coming to church. The services are freely available for everyone. However, you may like to have some money with you for
    • Contributing to the running of the church (an offertory plate is circulated during the service for voluntary contributions). There are gift-aid envelopes for you to sign and put your donation in if you are a taxpayer and would like the church to claim the extra money on top of your donation. These envelopes and pens are usually in the church porch at St James’ or on the welcome table at St Mary and St John’s, or ask a sidesperson as you come in.
    • Contributing to a charity appeal – from time to time there will be opportunities and encouragement to support charities. Generally however you can take a special envelope home and bring it back the following week.
    • Putting a small amount in the bowl in the Parish Centre towards a cup of coffee and biscuit after the main services at St James’ church. There are sometimes other sales of cakes, books etc which you might like to buy.
    • Buying tickets for a future event, concert etc

Do I have to wear anything special?

  • It is an important time, coming to church to worship God, so people often try to look nice and tidy. The minister and the choir may wear special robes. However the days of men in the congregation always having to wear suits and ladies having to have on a hat are long gone. Wear what you are comfortable in. It is more important that you are there than what you are wearing.  St James’ church however is an old building with draughts. There are heaters but it’s probably advisable to have outer clothing that will keep you warm or be taken off if you do feel too warm.


Electoral Roll

What is the Electoral Roll?

  • This is the official membership roll of the parish, and every Church of England parish has to compile an Electoral Roll each year and notify the Diocese of the numbers.  It is one way of keeping a record of the membership numbers of the Church of England.   Every six years a completely new roll has to be put together and everyone has to re-apply.  2019 will be a ‘new roll’ year.
  • It is important to note that the Electoral Roll is completely separate from the local civil electoral register.
  • It is also important to understand that the official Electoral Roll is completely separate from our internal and informal church database for the churches of St James and St Mary and St John.
  • You might be on the informal church database – and even receive our parish newsletters – but not automatically be on the Electoral Roll

How do I know if I’m on the Electoral Roll?

  • To be on the parish Electoral Roll, you will have filled in the official form.
  • You will need to hand it to our Electoral Roll officer, or the Parish Office.
  • You will find the official Electoral Roll in the Parish Office, where you can check whether or not you are already included on the roll.

Why become a member of the Electoral Roll?

  • Being on the Electoral Roll is an important way of demonstrating your full membership of and commitment to the life of the praish and we warmly welcome and encourage membership.
  • Membership entitles you to vote on key issues at the very important Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM), which takes place around April each year.
  • This enables you to play your full part in the decision making of our churches, and any wider Church of England issues that need to be voted on at local level.
  • Membership also entitles you to be voted onto the Parochial Church Council (PCC), and from there even on to the Deanery Synod and Diocesan Synod.
  • Membership of the Electoral Roll is sometimes a necessary requirement for marriage in St James’ church, and locally is an important part of the application procedure for Ranelagh School.

How much does it cost?

  • It is free to come on to the Electoral Roll.
  • Each year the parish has to pay its “Parish Share” of well over £70,000 to the Diocese for ministry costs. This has to be found even before we begin to tackle our own running and maintenance costs. The Parish Share is partly calculated on the number of people on the Electoral Roll, therefore your membership does have a financial cost to the parish.

Who can be on the Electoral Roll?

  • Anyone who is baptised, is 16 or over (or about to be) and lives in the parish of Finchampstead and California can be a member of the Electoral Roll.
  • Anyone who is baptised, 16 or over and who lives outside the parish, but who has habitually attended public worship within the parish over a period of six months.  We interpret ‘habitually’ as at least once a month.
  • If you have not habitually attended worship during a period of 6 months, then names are eligible to be removed from the Roll. However, this would not normally be done without prior consultation in order to take account of extenuating circumstances.



How do I know if I live within the Parish of Finchampstead and California?

  • The map below shows the extent of the Parish boundaries


St James Church Centre

How do I book the St James Church Centre for a function?

  • Please contact either Sue Sampson on 0118 973 2069 or contact the Parish Office.


St Mary and St John Parish Centre

How do I book the St Mary and St John Parish Centre for a function?

  • Please contact either the St Mary and St John Parish Centre on 0118 9730468 (if nobody answers it goes through to the Parish Office) or contact Marjorie Stalker.


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