Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Christmas in England: Would it be inappropriate to walk into a neighborhood church for Christmas service?

Christmas in England: Would it be inappropriate to walk into a neighborhood church for Christmas service?

Oct 6th, 2007, 06:09 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Christmas in England: Would it be inappropriate to walk into a neighborhood church for Christmas service?

We would otherwise go to service with S&BIL but since we will not have transportation on Christmas, I thought perhaps we would go to the neighborhood church for service.

Would this be inappropriate? Are visitors (non-members) allowed to attend service? Just walk in?

I am really clueless. On the one hand, we don't want to miss Christmas service, on the other, we don't want to offend.

Any thoughts?
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 06:15 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 380
I will await this response from someone from England with interest. I cannot conceive of the fact that you would be "unwelcome" in Church for Christmas services anywhere, but I could be wrong about that. I am from the "Bible Belt" of the US after all.
Kellye is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 06:23 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,752
Are you Christian? Because I don't know of any church anywhere that doesn't allow people to walk in and attend a service. If there are any, I have never encountered them in any place. I do know some synagogues that sell tickets and limit the capacity during High Holy Days' services, but I've never heard of a Christian church that does that. If they do that in England, that's a new one to me, and I'd be interesting in hearing about it. Some really well-known churches that might appeal to tourists might get crowded for special services, so you might want to get there early, but I've seen a checklist at the door for only certain people, nor have I heard of any official ID to indicate you are a "member" of a congregation.
Christina is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:06 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,288
They'll probably just figure you're another local who only shows up for Christmas and Easter. However, it is likely to be crowded.
thursdaysd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 07:35 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 65,796
Where are you from and what denomination are you? I ask not because I'm nosy but because I think there might be something related to your own church/culture that would cause you to ask this.

I cannot imagine any church that would turn worshippers away - especially in England.
janisj is online now  
Oct 6th, 2007, 10:07 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 9,922
"I don't know of any church anywhere that doesn't allow people to walk in and attend a service."

- I know of a lady who dropped into a Greek Orthodox church in Sydney (Australia) and was asked to leave by the verger on the grounds that she wasn't Greek, but one would hope that would be a one-off. The English are a tolerant people (e.g. they put up with Maggie Thatcher for years) and I'm sure you'd be made welcome in any Anglican church.

From memory, Catholics are welcome to take Communion in Anglican churches, if that helps.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 10:47 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,211
"I will await this response from someone from England with interest. "

Quite rightly. To an Englishman, the question is gobsmackingly extraordinary.

Ordinarily, most mainstream British Christian churches go out of their way to welcome any new face, so desperate are they to see any worshippers at all. Urban Catholic churches most Sundays, and most Anglican churches at Christmas and Easter, get too many strange faces to allow more than a polite "Happy Christmas" from the celebrant on the way out - but even they would be flattered and delighted if you joined them for post-service coffee or whatever it is they do. The Methodists, Baptists etc, who never see a strange face, will probably invite you home for Christmas lunch.

It's true in Britain, as Neil has noticed in Oz, that some Greek Orthodox churches are a bit odd about this (few of them understand the language their services are said in any more, so it doesn't occur to them to take the "mian katholiken ekklesian" bit of the Creed seriously).

But the rest hold it as a core belief that their religion is for everyone, "members" or not. Catholics would prefer non-Catholics not to take communion, access to Sandringham church is limited for the Christmas morning service the Queen attends, and there's sometimes a ticket limit for the Midnight service shown on TV if it's at a small church. But that's it.
flanneruk is online now  
Oct 6th, 2007, 10:55 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 5,056
You'll be made very welcome. If fact, churchgoing is so rare here these days they'll be estactic to see you!

Most churches see their congregation increase 3 or 4 fold at Christmas, as there are people who go then but don't bother any other time. You won't be the only strange faces.
nona1 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 11:36 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
The only service you may not get into is the midnight service - they are often ticket only to keep out the drunks etc who can disrupt things, but otherwise you will be made most welcome at any church. Check out the denominations of churches near where you stay so that you can choose one most appropriate to you.
hetismij is offline  
Oct 6th, 2007, 11:40 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4
Hi Im a non church going christian, who no longer lives in England. However Thought it a bit of a bizarre question membership rules dont apply in C of E churches, and as far as Im aware no other denominations. Ive been to Catholic churches in the past without invitation and been welcomed.
Im sure the vicar will be delighted to add another to his flock.
Be prepared for lots of questions from interested congregation members.
We Brits are tolerant, unjudgemental and interested in folk despite their colour religeon etc and generally love to meet new people.
Hope you have a lovely time in England.
jamsarnie is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 12:52 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,610
Only a very small percentage of Anglicans regularly attend church in England, so there are lots of strange faces at Christmas services. You will be welcome, and no one will care if you are a member or even a Christian.
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 12:59 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Church of England is for people who aren't especially religious but like to say they have a church

The average member of the CoE goes to church at Easter, Christmas, baptism, marriage & death but otherwise would never darken the doors of a church (except as a tourist attraction).

You might find problems though with the more evangelical churches

As others have mentioned, if you are genuinely religious you'd be welcomed with open arms
alanRow is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 01:38 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,063
Seetheworld

This is incorrect to the extreme - any C of E curch will be very welcoming particularly on Christmas Eve - the services are usually very special, very full and the family service early in the evening is usually good fun.

They are a very welcoming place at any time and do not feel that you are intruding.

Which part of the country will you be in?
markrosy is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 03:34 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,057
I would think the only church you might have trouble getting into would by Kings College Chapel on Christmas eve. Other than that they would all be more than happy to see you - even if you follow a different faith.
audere_est_facere is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 04:33 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 20,113
Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I truly hope my wording did not offend anyone. I am just as nervous asking this question as I am about actually walking into an unfamilar church on Christmas. I know that is foolish on my part.

I belong to a church with a rather small congregation and all are welcome, but because of its small size you would be recognized.

Information such as tickets, etc. was also on my mind (we don't do that, but I have heard of other places that do). As for inviting us home for dinner -- how kind that would be as the markets will be closed and our flat will only have milk, juice, and bread, lol.

markrosy, we will be staying in Chelsea (London) and I will start researching the churches in the area.

Thank you very much.
seetheworld is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 04:40 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 423
You will be welcomed in to any church, it gets very busy on the Xmas eve service as people who do not go on a regualr basis will go. Just make sure you find out the times and get there early enough. If all else fails Xmas eve they always show a sercive on TV both BBC1 and ITV tend to show from different churches, but you should be OK. It is the one time of the year when no one cares how often you attend if at all and all vistors are welcomed. Many people who attend church through out the year are not in the home during Xmas, off staying with relatives so the church expects a few vistors to be there.
crazychick is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:14 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
We spent the Christmas season in England last year (Nov-Dec) and attended church many times and never had a problem. At least not because we were strangers. On Christmas Eve we showed up at Christ Church cathedral in Oxford, not knowing you were suppose to book tickets ahead of time. But there were lots of people who were in the same boat, and they found room for all of us.

And we attended a service at Temple Church in London, but arrived late, which didn't endear us to the communicants (is that a word?). But once a few old ladies sent us withering looks so we knew we were rude, everything was fine.

One of our best memories from our trip is being in an English church at Xmas.

rickmav is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 08:39 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
<<< If all else fails Xmas eve they always show a sercive on TV both BBC1 and ITV tend to show from different churches >>>

And is likely to have been filmed in November - along with the Easter Service

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/com...cle1567388.ece

alanRow is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 09:47 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,610
Good one, Alan. At least they had the decency to wait until November. Last year, as I recall, Harrods started putting up their Christmas displays in August.
Heimdall is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 09:59 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3,057
The most vibrant church in the Chelsea area is the Brompton Oratory - a catholic church which does get very busy.

It has a very upmarket congregation and offers services in both latin and english. I'm not sure what it's offering for Christmas - but it's bound to be popular.
audere_est_facere is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:03 AM.