Life Events


In baptism, we thank God for his gift of life and make a decision to start on the journey of faith and ask for the Church’s support. Read more on the Church of England website.

Are you thinking about having your child baptised but are unsure how to go about it? If you live in the parish or have regularly attended St James’ Church or St Mary & St John’s church services for at least six months we will be delighted to baptise you and/or your children. We hold Baptism Services at St James’ Church on one Sunday afternoon in each month (we normally baptise children from two families at each service) and during services at St Mary and St John’s Church.

Before the day of the Baptism you will be asked to attend a baptism preparation meeting. You will also receive a visit from one of our baptism visitors who will explain things to you and answer any questions. At the baptism your child will be presented with a baptism candle. The following year around the time of the anniversary of the baptism, and each subsequent year to age 5, we will invite the whole family back to one of our Family Services. We will relight the candles of all the children whose anniversaries fall then and pray for them and their families.

To discuss a baptism please contact our Parish Office who will be very pleased to answer any questions you may have.


Confirmation is when adults and young people (current school year 6 and up) make for themselves the Christian commitment made on their behalf at baptism as infants.  Read more on the Church of England website.  If you consider that this is the right step for you or your children, then speak to one of the clergy or contact the Parish Office.

Our Confirmation services generally take place every other year in the summer and there is a period of preparation beforehand usually starting in the New Year.  For adults this is usually through a Christianity Explored course, with plenty of time for discussion of what commitment to following Jesus is all about, and by being involved in church services.  For young people there is a series of weekly meetings (about 12, where we explore the teaching of Jesus; the history of Christianity and the Church; and explain how the various Church services inform and enhance the life of a Christian) as well as a commitment to attend church services. We ask our congregation to support the Confirmation candidates in prayer.

In 2015 and 2017, Confirmation services were held at St. James’ Church.

For more information about our confirmation programmes or to book a place on a confirmation programme please contact or the Parish Office.

Communion before Confirmation

For those children who are seven years of age we are now also able to offer to prepare them for communion prior to confirmation. Parents will be fully briefed and involved in the course of preparation, which will be both instructive and fun, and based upon the book ‘Welcome to the Lord’s Table’ by Margaret Withers. If you have a child who would might be interested in being prepared for communion before confirmation, and are happy to support them in this process, please contact


Today more than a quarter of all marriages in England take place before God in the traditional setting of a Church of England church. You’re welcome to get married here whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are baptised and whether or not you go to church. Please see our wedding information.

Getting Married by Banns

When booking a wedding with us we will let you know whether you can be married by banns. Banns are called on three consecutive Sundays within three months of the wedding date in the parish churches of both bride and bridegroom. At St James’ this is done usually on the first three Sundays of the month prior to your wedding at our 11.00am service. However we will advise you when this will be, so that you may attend and hear the reading of your banns.

Away Banns

If you live in the parish of Finchampstead and California but are getting married in a church elsewhere you will still need to have your banns read at St James’ Church. Please contact the parish office if you believe you need to have your banns read here and we will arrange this for you.

Getting Married by Licence

If you do not meet the legal requirements for banns you may be able to apply for a licence to be married here.  For more information please contact the parish office.


A funeral is used to mark the end of a person’s life here on earth.  Family and friends come together to express grief, give thanks for the life lived and commend the person into God’s keeping.   This can be a small, quiet ceremony or a large occasion in a packed church.

The members of the ministry team in the parish of Finchampstead and California seek to provide the best possible service of support and pastoral care to those who have been bereaved.   Members of the ministry team are available to conduct a Christian funeral and/or burial service for any resident of the local community who has passed away.  Our ministers are ready to offer a bereaved relative, or executor, general support, and help in planning the service, from the moment we are informed of the need.

If the service is to be followed by cremation, our ministers will conduct a service either at a local crematorium in the area, or the service may be held at St James’ Church and followed by a committal at the crematorium immediately afterwards.  If the service is to be followed by a burial in our beautiful churchyard then a service within the church beforehand is usual.

Our ministers work closely with all local funeral directors. Our aim is to offer the best possible care during the difficult days for family members after the death of a loved one and whilst preparing for the funeral service.  We also have a dedicated team of pastoral visitors who visit those who would welcome a friendly ear at such times.  Please contact the Parish Office if you think that this might be helpful.  We also hold an annual Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving close to All Souls’ day at the start of November.

Please contact us as soon as possible if you would like one of our ministers to be alongside you at this time.  Initial enquiries regarding funerals should be made to our Parish Office, who will notify a member of the ministry team and liaise with the Funeral Director.

Burials and Memorials

Everyone is entitled to be either buried, or to have their ashes interred, in their local parish churchyard, room permitting, by their local parish priest regardless of whether they attended church or not. Your funeral director will liaise with the Parish Office to organise the funeral and burial of a loved one, and also the erection of any memorial to mark the plot. We have a comprehensive booklet available to explain all the regulations regarding burials and memorials.

The burial (including the burial of ashes) in the churchyard is your loved one’s final resting place. Any request to rebury elsewhere in the future is likely to be refused, so please consider this carefully before proceeding.

Marking the Plot

Memorials: Stones, Tablets and Plaques

There is no automatic right in English law to erect any memorial or place anything in a churchyard. A churchyard is very different from a local authority cemetery, and the rights of individual parishioners are strictly limited.

A memorial should respect its surroundings; not impose an unreasonable burden of upkeep on future generations; and the inscription should be appropriate to the setting. As a churchyard any memorial must be compatible with the Christian religion and inscriptions should be simple and reverent.

Permission has to be sought from the Chancellor of the Diocese of Oxford before anything permanent is placed on a grave. For convenience, the Chancellor authorises the Incumbent (the Rector/Priest-in-Charge) to give permission for the erection of a memorial, which must be of an approved size and design. No permission will be given for the erection of a memorial or ledger until six months after the date of burial or interment to allow for the settlement of the excavated ground. Currently the ashes plots in the churchyard are against the wall and the memorial plaques placed on the wall, these plaques can be erected either before or straight after the interment of ashes.

To avoid unnecessary distress later, it is very important that, before the stonemason begins work on any memorial or additional inscription, an application for approval (memorial permit) is sent to the Parish Office by the legal personal representative or executor of the deceased with the appropriate fee (usually done through your funeral director), and that the stonemason has received the signed approval from the incumbent.

The memorials are not the responsibility of the Church. They belong to those who purchased them and therefore the church does not insure or maintain them. If the memorial becomes unsafe we will if necessary lay the headstone flat on the grave to ensure the safety of everyone using the churchyard. We will attempt to contact the family to advise them that the memorial requires attention. Therefore if you change address from the one on the application, you may wish to notify the Parish Office.

Toys or other similar ornaments may be left at the graveside for a period of twelve months after the burial or interment. They must then be removed by the family or by the incumbent. However please avoid glass vases or ornaments as these easily get broken and can be dangerous to those maintaining the churchyard.

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