Information about Christianity
This creed was not written by the apostles but contains a brief summary of their teachings. A creed (from the Latin credo, 'I believe') is an authoritative statement of the main articles of the Christian faith.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
This book begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth and finishes with the creation of a new heaven and a new earth at the end of time. The Creator himself is the central character. Having created human beings all seems lost as they continually go their own way and disobey his wise and benevolent guidance. So he calls one family for a special purpose and makes them into a nation. All seems lost when they become slaves in Egypt but they are rescued by the Creator. He promises to bless all the nations through them but they continually turn their backs on him. All seems lost when they are conquered and their leaders taken into captivity. But with the Creator's help they return and rebuild. They look forward to the Creator's promised messiah. When he comes, however, he is rejected by the leaders and killed and all seems lost. But he rises to life and his followers realise that this messiah is the Creator himself. These followers take his transforming message of repentance, forgiveness, love and trust in the Creator to the ends of the earth. The hope it brings continues to spread. At the end of time the evil which so often caused all to seem lost is finally defeated and the goodness of the Creator triumphs.
by Peter Watson
The heart of the Christian message is love. The 'Good News' is that God has shown his love for us all through Jesus. He has made it possible for us to become God's friends. Jesus particularly showed God's love for us by his death upon the cross. Jesus calls us to turn away from selfishness and accept God's forgiveness. He calls us to love God and to love other people and tell them about him. We all have to decide whether to say 'yes' to God. Millions of people throughout the ages have found that friendship with God is what gives meaning and purpose to their lives. If you have not already done so we ask you to join us and begin getting to know God and experience his presence in your life.
What is the purpose of the Church?
The Church exists to encourage us to know God and express our love for him through our services. We need to support and encourage each other in our journey of faith and through the difficulties of everyday life. Church people are disciples of Jesus and seek with God's help to grow more like Jesus. We try to work together to express our love for other people by serving them and telling them about Jesus. In fact, the purpose statement of St Thomas's Church is Proclaiming the love of Jesus in the community.
We believe it is God's will that his people gather together and proclaim God's love together. Whenever we meet together to break the bread and proclaim the 'Good News' we are strengthened and encouraged by the presence of Jesus.
Who is God?
We believe that God has shown himself to us as:
The idea of the one God being a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not something we can fully understand. God would not be God if we could fully understand him. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity witnesses to the abiding majesty and mystery of love revealed to us in Jesus Christ and made known to each generation by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What is prayer?
Prayer is being aware of God's presence with us. It can involve speaking to him or just meditating upon him. Some of us use the acronym ACTS to guide us in our prayers:
Adoration - We praise God for who he is.
Confession - We say we are sorry for not always living as he wants us to.
Thanksgiving - We say thank you to God for all he has given to us.
Supplication - We ask God to help other people and to help us.
We believe God calls us to work with him and the communication we experience with him in prayer is vital to being disciples of Jesus.
What is the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of Jewish and early Christian writings. The most important parts of the Bible for Christians are the four Gospels which tell us about the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.
We take the Bible seriously at St Thomas's by reflecting together on its meaning for contemporary life. We believe we need to look for the important principles of the Bible rather than taking each individual detail and applying it literally.
As we read the Bible together and as individuals God is able to speak to us through what we read. Many of us read the Bible every day and some of us find help from the daily Bible study notes produced by the Bible Reading Fellowship or Scripture Union.
Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas.
Advent Sunday, usually the first Sunday in December, marks the beginning of the church year. The Christingle service is held on an afternoon in this season with oranges decorated by our primary school children.
Christmas and Epiphany
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus when God entered our world to be born as a human being. Epiphany follows Christmas when we remember the Wise Men seeking the baby Jesus.
The Carol Service, followed by wine and mince pies, takes place about a week before Christmas, but the Christmas festival itself begins on Christmas Eve afternoon with the Crib Service, originally planned for the children but who are now heavily outnumbered by adults! Later that evening we celebrate the first Eucharist of Christmas, at midnight. The Christmas tree is lit and the church decorated.
There are two morning services on Christmas Day and after Epiphany, the tree is dismantled and kept to form the crucifixion cross at Easter.
Education Sunday takes place in February, when the school plays a major part, including the school choir which assist our own choir on special occasions.
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. It is traditionally a time of prayer and fasting.
Shrove Tuesday leads into the beginning of Lent, a contrast to the sombre Ash Wednesday service when parishioners' foreheads are marked by ashes as a sign of repentance.
On Mothering Sunday, bunches of daffodils are distributed by the children and the Vicar to members of the congregation.
On Passion Sunday, nails are given out as a commemoration of the those used to crucify Jesus.
Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday when we remember Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey. It is the time when we remember the events leading up to the crucifixion death of Jesus on the Cross on Good Friday.
On Palm Sunday, palm crosses are given out as a reminder of the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. During Holy Week, services are held daily on the traditional pattern.
At Easter we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus when he returned to life and appeared to his followers. Ascension Day celebrates his last appearance to the disciples.
On Holy Saturday we hold the Easter Vigil with the church in darkness until we proclaim "Alleluia. Christ is risen." The building is decorated with lilies, donated by parishioners and is open for viewing that weekend.
Pentecost (or as it used to be called, Whitsun) is when we celebrate the coming of God's Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church.
The Feast of Pentecost comes forty days after Easter. In summer we have Dedication Sunday and our Patronal Festival when we remember St Thomas and the building of our church.
At Harvest we give thanks to God for our food and think of those who are in need. Also in the autumn there are several days when we think about people who have died.
Harvest Sunday is usually the last weekend in September when the school children have their own service and bring food, which is later distributed to local charities. Our hard working flower arrangers beautifully decorate the church. September also sees Battle of Britain Sunday and in November, Remembrance Sunday. On both of these occasions, wreaths are laid before our Roll of Honour.
All Saints day, November 1st and All Souls day, November 2nd leads us on into Advent again.
A selection of resources about the Bible and prayer is available on our Downloads page.
The side chapel inside the church is open for private prayer most days between 11.00 am and 5.00 pm. Access is via the small door facing Clifton Drive South.
Our Sunday morning service is live-streamed on YouTube and is available there as a conventional video afterwards.