Animated Film Songs for Advent

As well as telling many Christian stories, Disney and DreamWorks movies have, over the years, engaged with implicit Christian themes in more subtle ways, such as: to believe in yourself, to chase your dreams, and to have courage and be kind.  Each week in Advent the choir will be singing a song from an animated film.

11th December

God Help the Outcasts is from the 1996 Walt Disney animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  The song is a somber prayer in which a beset Esmeralda asks God to shield outcasts and gypsies like herself against racism and discrimination at the hands of Paris and Judge Claude Frollo.  The song also establishes Esmeralda as a selfless, empathetic character with whom Quasimodo falls in love.

Advent Course

Christian Basics Explored

Our Advent Course this year runs on Tuesday evenings up to 13th December. This year we look at Christian basics in an open shared conversation around some wintery nibbles.  We meet at 7:30pm at the curate’s house.  Using Rowan William’s book Being Christian, we will explore our modern understanding[s] of four pillars of Christianity: Baptism, Scripture, the Eucharist and Prayer.  For more information and to get a book, please contact one of the clergy.

Give the Gift of a Packed Backpack

This Advent we are participating in the Mary’s Meals Backpack Project.  Many children receiving Mary’s Meals don’t have basic learning tools such as pencils and notepads - help them get the most out of their lessons by donating a backpack full of the things they need.  Why not do it as an Advent project?  If you would be interested, then pack a good-quality backpack with notepad, pens, pencils, crayons, eraser, ruler, sharpener, pencil case, towel, shorts or skirt, t-shirt or dress, flip-flops or sandals, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, a small ball and a spoon.  Bring your packed bags to St John’s no later than 24th December at 4pm.  Further information is available on A5 flyers at the back of Church or from Robin or Antonio.

Sunday, 18th December

Nativity Play

This year’s play at the 10am service is a closely kept secret but we have an up-and-coming director cum playwright, Antonio Almodovar García Fuerte, who assures us this year’s script will be hotter than a truckload of jalapeño peppers! There are a couple of dates to keep in mind.  Casting takes place after church this morning and the dress rehearsal will be in church on Saturday 17th December at 10:30 am. Speak to Antonio or Becky for more information.

Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

Our traditional carol service takes place next Sunday, 18th December, at 6pm.  The choir will be accompanied by a multitude of musicians.  This year’s service features Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols.  The service will be followed by a fizz and panettone reception.  This is one of the biggest musical treats of the year for all the family.  Invite your friends and neighbours to join us for this festive community celebration.


Carolling around the Parish

Come join our choristers and help raise money for Reckless Giving by singing carols in pubs around the parish on Tuesday, 20th December.  Meet in church at 6.30pm.

Christmas Eve

4.00pm - Crib Service

Mary and Joseph return to St John’s after their travels around the parish and all of the children attending will build the crib, placing a lamb alongside the Baby Jesus.

11.30pm – Midnight Mass

Enjoy the first mass of Christmas in a candlelit church, singing Christmas carols accompanied by strings and winds.  The setting will be Mozart’s Coronation Mass K317.

Christmas Day

10am – Family Festival Eucharist

Children are invited to come along dressed up in their fairy costumes and sparkly shoes or Christmas pyjamas and to bring their toys with them if they wish.

Christmas Flowers

Remember a loved one by making a donation to this year’s Christmas flowers.  Complete the slip inside your order of service and leave it with Bryan Sollenberger.  A list of those in whose memory donations are given will be displayed in the porch.


The arrival of the Magi, after their long journey following a star seeking Jesus, is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian Church.  In the Eastern and Russian Orthodox Churches, this is the equivalent of Christmas.  St John’s will celebrate Epiphany with a festival Eucharist on Sunday, 8th January 2016.  There will be a procession of the Magi and Presentation of Gifts before the crib as part of the service.  Afterwards, there will be a reception of fizz and finger food.  Members of the congregation are asked to bring a plate of finger food with them and, in order to help with numbers, please sign up on the form in the porch, indicating that they will be able to attend and what food they will be bringing with them.

Epiphany Carols

15th January 2016, 6pm

After our fantastic Advent and Christmas carol services, what next?  Epiphany carols!   Robert, Nicky and the choir have prepared another special treat to conclude our seasonal celebrations marking the events of the Epiphany season.  The service will be followed by fizz and seasonal delicacies.  The programme features music by Debussy, Respighi, Cornelius, Bach, Mendelssohn, Jenkins & J. Williams.  A great way to beat the post-Christmas blues!

Help Robin Get to Church

Robin Plummer lives in Cato Street and needs help getting to and from church.  Would you be willing to help him?  There is a rota and you would be expected to help Robin approximately one Sunday every other month.  Robin is particularly fond of riding in fast cars although he is also very happy to walk to church.


St James and St John School

This is our school; a school with a proud history and an aspirational future.  St. James & St. John School provides both academic and personal development for every child, underpinned by Christian values. To quote Ofsted: "This is a good school.  It is strongly supported by parents and carers.  The strong provision for development of pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural qualities ensures that pupils are kind to new arrivals and respect one another's values.  Progress in English and mathematics is good and this reflects the good teaching and curriculum."

Applications for admittance in September 2017 are now available.  The deadline for submission of completed applications is 13th January 2017.

Under Five’s Playgroups

An international playgroup aimed at Russian speakers meets in St John’s on Wednesdays at 10am.  Other playgroups meet on Wednesdays at 3.45pm and Thursdays at 10am.  Suggested donation for all groups: £2.  For information about the playgroups: and for the Russian speaking playgroup.

Last playgroups before Christmas

Russian speaking playgroup: 21 December

Wednesday afternoon playgroup - 14 December.

Thursday playgroup –22 December

All groups start again on 4th and 5th January 2017.