A church is a collection of people, and the church in Monken Hadley is the particular group of people in our community who have given their lives to Jesus Christ. Christians come together to worship, to be encouraged and challenged, to grow together in faith, hope and love and we are keen to do so especially on the first day of the week, Sunday, the day of resurrection. So, the church needs a place to gather, and this building has also come to be known by the same name - church. Our church building is very old and very beautiful.
As is usual in the Anglican tradition, our church has a "patron saint". When ancient churches were built and opened the Bishop would come and consecrate the main altar, dedicating it to a particular saint, who became the patron saint of that church and village or community. In Monken Hadley the saint chosen was Saint Mary the Virgin, as was often the case with churches that were the first in an area. In churches large enough to have a side chapel, or several side chapels, the smaller side altars would likewise be consecrated and dedicated to a particular saint. The fifteenth century construction of our church building included two side chapels, both of which also had their altars dedicated to female saints - Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and Saint Anne. The chapel of St Catherine is still in use. St Anne's chapel became the north transept and now houses an organ.
Saint Mary the Virgin
Mary was a very special Jewish girl, who received her call from God by the message of an angel. Although our usual response to God is "No", Mary said "Yes" - or to quote her own words, recorded in the Bible, "I am the Lord's handmaid. Let it happen to me just the way you have said". Being pregnant before she was married would have caused scandal in Mary's community, yet she was focused on allowing God's will to be done. Mary had the joy of caring for the infant Jesus and raising him to adulthood. Not surprisingly the Bible says that "all generations" will call Mary "blessed". We often call her "The Blessed Virgin Mary" in honour of the fact that by the action of God's Holy Spirit, Mary became pregnant whilst still a virgin.The photograph shows the main altar in our church, dressed in a purple frontal (the colour of the frontal changes through the year, to mark the different seasons of the church - purple is for the seasons of penitence called 'Advent' and 'Lent'). This altar, with its impressive brass cross and candlesticks, is the focal point of the church. It and the font are the two most prized items within our church building, for here, at font and altar, we celebrate the two great sacraments of the Lord Jesus - Baptism and the Eucharist.
We refer to St Catherine along with her home town in order to avoid confusion with another saint of the same name (St Catherine of Sienna). Our St Catherine (of Alexandria) is the one made famous in the firework known as a 'Catherine Wheel'. She is honoured as a martyr whose brave arguments for Christ converted many pagan philosophers to Christ during the reign of the Roman Emperor Maximus, all of whom were executed. Her arguments also converted the Emperor’s wife and chief General, both of whom were also cruelly put to death. Catherine was sent to be executed on a large wheel with sharp blades set into it. However, the wheel broke as Catherine first touched it, so she was instead beheaded with the sword (which at that time was considered an 'honorable' death). The photograph shows the St Catherine chapel which also houses the banner of the Mother's Union (pictured on the far left). The window behind the St Catherine altar depicts St Catherine herself in six different situations carrying out works of mercy such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and clothing the naked. The chapel is used for many mid-week services, especially Morning and Evening Prayer.
St Mary the Virgin Monken Hadley and the Diocese of London
The Church of England divides the country into administrative areas called dioceses, for which bishops are responsible. Dioceses are ultimately subdivided into parishes. Every inch of England falls within a Church of England parish. Each parish has a parish priest (who may have the title Vicar, Rector, or Priest-in-Charge), who is responsible for ensuring that worship and prayer takes place for and on behalf of the people who live in the parish. He or she also has the responsibility for providing pastoral and spiritual care for everyone in the parish.
The Diocese of London has existed since at least 314, when a bishop from London is recorded as attending a Council of Bishops in Arles, in southern France. The Diocese was reorganised in 604, since when there has been a constant succession of bishops.The Diocese covers 277 square miles of Greater London north of the Thames from Staines in the west to the Isle of Dogs in the east. In Enfield the Diocese stretches furthest north but parts of Barnet are already in the Diocese of St Albans.
Our local church community, like most parish churches, embraces Christians with a range of beliefs and convictions and welcomes all who seek to experience Christian worship in this place. Christians who are visiting us from other churches and receive Holy Communion in their own church are welcome to do so when worshipping with us.