St Mary’s, Haddenham
Haddenham is the largest community within Wychert Vale Benefice. It is a vibrant village community with groups for every age group and many interests. St Mary’s has a large and active congregation with much lay involvement. St Mary’s was one of the early renewal churches and was the original home of ‘Anglican Renewal Ministries’. It retains a deep commitment to seeking the guidance and refreshment of the Holy Spirit for its worship, mission and church life. St Mary’s describes itself as having a 13th Century building and a 21st Century heart. It is very much a parish church with a vision to serve the local community. St Mary’s has a strong sense of Christian service and has been developing a programme of pastoral care in the community, supporting pastoral visiting and bereavement care, food banks, CAP budgeting courses and its wide engagement with local organisations. In recent years there has been significant development of the children and youth ministries (see above). The church leadership team is seeking to develop worship that will be accessible to local people seeking to follow the Christian faith, enabling a gentle charismatic strand, and a strand of more traditional worship. It has run many Alpha courses over the years and is currently experimenting with the more informal ‘Uncover’ course. Its mission strategy is closely following the benefice vision of ‘Worshipping God, Serving Community and Sharing Life’.
Caféplus+ runs from 9.30-12-noon in place of the 10.30 service on the first Sunday of the month in the Village Hall as a free monthly drop-in café (with breakfast, coffee and newspapers) for the community. Its vision has been to create opportunities for building personal relationships, provide a neutral space for exploring faith in Jesus and be a place to demonstrate kingdom life and values.
A lay-led team of around 35 people is involved in running Caféplus+ and around 150 people attend with about 30% being non- or irregular church attenders. Children’s activities run throughout the morning and there is a special space for toddlers. The ‘Food for Thought’ slot explores a contemporary issue each month and the Quiet Space is available for inspiration, exploration and prayer. Caféplus+ is seen as an essential link into the community from which additional links, leading to Christian commitment, can be made.
Caféplus+ has been running for over ten years and has had a significant impact in our engagement with local community and in enabling new families and others to connect with the St Mary’s community. It is a key part of our local mission strategy as a church and also a significant aspect of our expression of church in Haddenham.
St Mary’s Haddenham has a growing Children’s Church on two Sunday’s of each month following material from Urban Saints. There is a monthly All Age service and children’s activities at the monthly Cafeplus+. ‘Little People’s Cafeplus+’ is a monthly toddler group. There are also strong links with the uniformed organisations and the schools.
About 100 people meet fortnightly in 12 daytime and evening groups. These groups are overseen by three Home-group Co-ordinators and are a significant source of pastoral care for church members. Currently groups are following material linked to the Sunday and annual teaching theme.
St Mary’s Haddenham has long had significant lay involvement at every level of church life. It supports many ministries and activities. This is achieved through the development of sub-groups supported by the PCC and a Church Leadership team.
St Mary’s Church
The church is a Grade I listed building dating back to Saxon times, with most of the present building being completed in the thirteenth Century. There is a peal of eight bells with an enthusiastic band of ringers who ring before services both morning and evening. From 2000 there has been a three-phase refurbishment project undertaken in the church aimed at making the church a more welcoming and versatile space for worship. The first phase involved creating a crèche room in the tower with access from the ground floor, where a kitchen was installed along with a toilet suitable for the disabled and equipped with baby changing facilities. The second phase involved: the replacement of the aged pipe organ by a high quality digital organ, reinstatement of the vestry to its original position in the chancel, re-positioning the font near the north door, the creation of a ramp giving disabled access to the chancel from the nave and redecoration of the whole building. The third phase has been the installation of a new boiler and sensitive installation of AV into the church, with two side screens, a large central screen behind the chancel arch, a back screen for service leaders and cameras to give greater visibility in the side aisles.
St Mary’s Centre and House
In the early 1980s following relocation of St Mary’s C of E Infant School to a new building, the church was able to purchase the old school building for use as a Parish Centre. This now houses a reception lounge, a hall seating approximately fifty people, a small kitchen with hatches into the main hall and a smaller coffee room. Upstairs there are the Benefice office, a youth room, a meeting room, a storage room and a further office that is currently let. St Mary’s Centre is in need of redecoration and refurbishment of its heating system and this will be the next projected capital project. The church also owns the three-bedroom school house next door which is currently let.
Further information about St Mary’s Haddenham can be found at these locations: