St. Augustine's church

Family services

This page describes the services, and leads to those we have offered in the past. Forthcoming family services are ( well, should be ) listed here; and here's a bit about their history.

sketch of happy church
( The sketch was drawn by an artistically inclined helper probably somewhere around 2000; the apostrophe was inserted later by our resident pedant. )

Family Services are less formal than our usual Sunday morning services, and particularly designed to be attractive to children. We normally offer a Family Service on the first Sunday of each month, March to November, and occasionally at other times ( notably Easter and Christmas, when we offer both a carol service and a Christingle service ) if it seems like a good idea.

Before 2009, all our family services were stand-alone services without Holy Communion. During that period, the only regular St. Augustine's service was a Communion service at 8.00 a.m., and we held the Family Services at 10.00 a.m., so these services could be rather longer than those we offer now, with much more scope for telling a longer or more detailed story. Since the beginning of 2009, some of the services have been followed by Holy Communion, and some have been combined with other material, according to the whim of the currently presiding priest. Also, some of these services have been wholly or partly put together by people not primarily associated with St. Augustine's, so we don't always have all the details, so we've had to leave them out.

You are welcome to use these Family Services in your church if you wish to do so, in whole or in part. We have tried to ensure that, except where otherwise indicated, the material is original to St. Augustine's ( in which case we waive copyright ) or freely available for public use. In most cases, full scripts for the services are given, though for a few of the earlier services some details had been lost before we wrote the web pages and we have reconstructed what we could from memory. There are also copies ( as PDF files ) of the service sheets used by the congregation, and notes on details of the production. Notes for the individual services are listed in table below; general notes applicable to all the services are presented below the table. We have tried to make these reasonably complete, but if you have any questions about them please do not hesitate to ask.

So far as we know, there is nothing in the services which is likely to give offence in a Christian context. You should nevertheless convince yourself that the material can properly be presented; clearly, we cannot take any responsibility for your presentation of the material.


2009 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2009 November CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2009 October St. Francis of Assisi script programme notes
2009 September Jairus's daughter script single item; no programme notes
2009 August God's invitations
( with HC )
script programme notes
2009 June Trinity Sunday
( with HC )
script programme notes
2009 May Augustine comes to England
( with HC )
script single item; no programme notes
2009 April Palm Sunday
( with HC )
script programme notes
2008 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2008 November CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2008 August THE BIBLE script programme notes
2008 July THE LORD'S PRAYER script programme notes
2008 May GOD'S CHALLENGE script programme notes
2008 March MARY REMEMBERS THE FIRST EASTER script programme notes
2007 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2007 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2007 September GOD'S INTENTIONS FOR THE SAINTS ( G I F T S ) script programme notes
2007 July HOW GOD PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE script programme notes
2007 May PEACE ! BE STILL script programme notes
2007 April EASTER EGGS TELL THE EASTER STORY script programme notes
2006 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2006 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2006 October SOWING SEEDS OF LOVE script programme notes
2006 September HEALING script programme notes
2006 July FORGIVENESS script programme notes
2006 June ACTS OF PRAYER script programme notes
2006 April WAS JESUS INNOCENT ? script programme notes
2005 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2005 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2005 October THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS script programme notes
2005 September THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT script programme notes
2005 July WHAT WE DO WITH THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT script programme notes
2005 May PETER script programme notes
2005 March IN THE UPPER ROOM script programme notes
2004 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2004 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2004 August ZACCHAEUS script programme notes
2004 July THE GOOD SAMARITAN script programme notes
2004 May TRUST AND OBEY script programme notes
2004 April HE IS RISEN INDEED ! script programme notes
2004 February THE STORY OF THE PRODIGAL SON script programme notes
2003 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2003 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2003 October ARE YOU COMING TO THE BANQUET ? script programme notes
2003 August CHANGED BY GOD script programme notes
2003 June RULES FOR LOVING script programme notes
2003 April SEARCHING FOR GOD script programme notes
2003 March GIVING THANKS TO GOD script programme notes
2002 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE script programme notes
2002 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2002 September A DAY AT JACOB'S WELL script programme notes
2002 June SOWING THE SEED script programme notes
2001 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2000 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
2000 April EASTER SERVICE script programme notes
1999 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE   programme  
1999 December CAROL SERVICE script programme notes
1998 December CHRISTINGLE SERVICE   programme  


( These are mostly Jean's notes. As Jean produces all the Family Services, they can be taken as authoritative. )

For references to the internal geography of the church, it might be helpful to inspect the plan. )

  1. While many rehearsals would be ideal, my original custom was to have two; typically, not every one is able to attend both rehearsals, but everyone can get to one of them. Also, I found that the first rehearsal revealed all manner of glitches and also gave people an opportunity to suggest minor improvements, and gave some idea of the length of the service. After some years, we reduced that to one full rehearsal, with informal rehearsals for any who couldn't attend.

  2. Each person involved in the service is given a full service print-out with their part high-lighted and all stage directions included.

  3. We sometimes swap the leadership role at natural breaks in the service ( for example, here ). This gives an opportunity for people to experience being leaders.

  4. There is a highlighted "lectern" copy on the lectern ( reading desk ), usually in a bigger font than the individual scripts. ( After the first few services, which were fairly experimental in many ways, we found it best to move the lectern itself from its usual position on the hospital side to the organ side. This groups all the "administration" - organ, leader, projector - together, and simplifies the movement in the performance parts; see below for more detail. More recently, we have tended to change back again. This is not always clearly stated in the text, but as you will have to adapt everything to your local geography perhaps that's not very important. )

  5. The whole service is displayed on the overhead projector, apart from stage directions and personal items such as testimonies and stories ( which are necessarily unscripted ). We do this because -

    We found it helpful to display in red any parts which we wanted everyone to join in; if the context permits, we also label them "ALL :", or something similar. Our original projector was of the common sort using transparencies; later we acquired a video projector, and have since used that, driven from a computer.

  6. Anyone who wants to take part is welcome - I make a point of finding something for them to do.

  7. I assemble the whole service into one computer file and use this file to create the lectern copy, the overheads, the order of service etc.

  8. We like to produce an order of service which has some of the important or challenging parts of the service on it. This is what people can take home, and we hope that God will use these service sheets to speak His message to the people.

  9. We aim to complete the service in 45 minutes and usually manage to keep it under an hour.

  10. In the first few years, we dressed up only for our Christmas services, because we didn't have time for dressmaking during the rest of the year. As time has gone by, we have acquired a few simple sack-like coloured robes and striped middle-eastish headdresses, white garments and wings for angels, etc., which we use when convenient.

  11. Generally, we try to keep properties as simple as possible, but again we've accumulated a small collection as time has gone by. Also, at Christmas we decorate the church.

  12. For quite a long time, we included the words of all the songs in the service sheets and the screen displays. This was mainly because we didn't have a congregational hymn book which contained the words of all the songs we wanted to use - indeed, as we used a very wide variety of material, there was probably no such song book available. In 2009, we finally acquired a set of congregational song books ( "Complete Anglican hymns old and new )which covered the whole range we wanted well enough to suit our purpose, and, from October 2009, we used these books instead. The words of the songs are therefore omitted from the services here from that time onward.

Some more specific notes :

Allocating parts. We try to allocate parts so that everyone who wants to join in can have a reasonable amount to do. Parts which are not identified with individual characters ( Reader, Leader, etc. ) can be shared between several people without difficulty. In cases where there are many parts, some or all performers may have several parts - obviously, parts which don't overlap. We adjust numbers ( for example, how many disciples ) to fit the forces available. We have tried to identify parts in the scripts with names which indicate bits which we imagine should be taken by particular actors in the interests of continuity - so a part identified as "Friend 3" identifies a particular individual who should always be played by the same actor - but the actor playing "Friend 3" might also be able to play "Friend 4" ( - unless, of course, "Friend 3" and "Friend 4" have a conversation with each other ! ). You should take these as hints rather than instructions.

Once we find out how many people wish to take part in the service, we allocate the parts to individuals, and decide who does what in cases of shared parts. Then we replace the character names in the script by personal names, and print a copy for each performer.

Balcony. Our church has a balcony at the back which is not usually occupied during services. Someone speaking up there cannot be seen from the body of the church, but the voice is very clearly audible. We sometimes use it as an "offstage" position for events to be heard but not seen.

The balcony has a wooden floor, and wooden stairs lead up to it; this makes instructions such as "sound of running feet" very effective.

Barbecue. At the end of our Christmas carol services, it was our custom for many years to invite all comers to share in a barbecue in the church hall. Barbecues are provided, with a limited amount of food and soft drinks, but people are expected to bring, and cook as required, their own food. The barbecues are normally set up outside, but our hall is big enough to move them inside if the weather is bad.

This was very well received, and became a part of our Christmas tradition - highly recommended ! ( People in places where Christmas comes at a cooler time might like to revise the details, but the principle is good. )

In 2009 we acquired a new vicar. Many things changed, one of which was the time for the Carol service, which moved to a morning slot. Even the enthusiasts had to admit that it was a shade early for a barbecue, so the barbecue was no more.

Cards. These are cards provided so that anyone wishing to be added to our Parish roll can fill in details easily. For some time we set out one at each end of every pew during the services. Now we seem to have given up.

Christmas tree. The Christmas tree is an annual custom which has been maintained for several years. We get a fairly large tree, sawn off at the bottom of the trunk. ( Branches from larger trees are also available, but are commonly less symmetrical. ) The end of the trunk is in a bucket of water; the comparatively unsightly bucket is hidden in a presentable wooden tub. The trunk is carefully wedged inside the bucket, and the bucket is wedged inside the tub. With care, this is sufficiently firm to hold the tree upright without support.

This would not be sufficient to guard against people colliding with the tree, or other severe disturbances, so we always make sure by attaching the top of the tree to ceiling beams with strong fishing line ( because it's almost invisible ).

The tree is always set up on the left-hand ( "hospital" ) side of the church at the end of the altar rail. There is no profound reason for this choice, but we know it works.

The tree is usually decorated. The standard decorations are a "gold" "star of Bethlehem" at the top, and ordinary electric Christmas tree lights; in addition, we usually have a spotlight illuminating the whole tree. We avoid excessive decoration, but sometimes add other items if they fit in with any of the Christmas services.

Collection. In our first year or two we took a collection from the congregation, usually during the last song. Eventually, it occurred to us that the services were intended to be mildly evangelical in nature, and expecting people to pay to be evangelised was not entirely sensible. We therefore changed our practice : we simply placed an offertory box at the back of the church, and announced during the service that anyone who felt moved to do so could put in a contribution.

But then 2009 came, and everything changed. Our Family Services were no longer special in the way they used to be, as they were now incorporated into our regular Communion services. The collection returned, as it was a normal part of the Communion service.

Then 2009 continued, and everything changed again : it was deemed that the Family Service format was somehow "not appropriate" for the Communion service, so we went back to the old way. ( - but we kept on taking the collection. )

Copyright. Some items, mostly musical, have been removed from the scripts for reasons connected with copyright law. Our parish is licensed by Christian Copyright Licensing International, which covers our performance of much copyright material in church, but this is a private web site and not covered by this arrangement.

From the beginning of 2009, we have been using the New Zealand Prayer Book in our services. This too is subject to copyright, so we have had to omit significant portions of some of the services since that time.

We have been guided by New Zealand copyright law - see, for example, this source :

"New Zealand

This page looks at the duration of copyright under New Zealand law and the shape of the public domain.


literary works

Section 22 of the 1994 Act provides that copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the author died.

Protection for works that are computer-generated expires at the end of fifty years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first made.

An exception provides protection for works of particular international organisations. Protection is for fifty years (unless otherwise ordered by the New Zealand Governor-General) from the end of the year in which the work was made."

Generally we have not included material written by authors who are still living or who died less than 50 years ago, unless we have explicit permission or other evidence that publication is permitted. If we cannot identify the author from the material we have, or by internet search, we have assumed that the material can be published. We ask that anyone concerned that we might have published material we should not have published, or with evidence that we may publish material we have suppressed, would tell us about it, whereupon we shall take appropriate action.

We note that ALL our own material can be freely used by anyone for any purpose. It was composed to spread the good news proclaimed by Jesus; we believe that it was given to us by God, and we regard it as belonging to God.

The items which we have excluded are included in our list of musical items, with some information which might help you to identify them if you so wish.

Curtain. There is a blue curtain on the wall behind the altar. It does not cover the whole wall, but is significantly wider than the altar and perhaps 2.5m high. It is mounted on a curtain rail with runners so it can be moved; we usually draw the right-hand end towards the centre when using the projector screen. We often pin things to it in family services.

Attached to the wall above the curtain there is a large plain wooden cross.

Hospital. Sometimes the scripts refer to the "hospital side"; that's the east side of the church, to the left of the congregation as they sit facing the altar. ( The Navy Hospital is next to the church on that side. ) The other side, on the congregation's right, is commonly called the "organ side", for the obvious reason.

Jelly Bean time. When the form of our services changed in 2009 to include Holy Communion, the services also, of necessity, involved an ordained minister. The first regular priest was John Leitch, who added his own special contribution to the occasions. "Jelly Bean Time" was one of his innovations : at some point in the service, the Leader would ask if any of those present had recently celebrated a birthday or other notable event, and anyone admitting to such an occasion was rewarded with a jelly bean ( a sort of sweet ). Or maybe a few jelly beans .... This was a great success, so we retained it as a permanent feature.

Key to the scripts. We have tried to distinguish parts of the script with different purposes using colour codes. We have not been particularly systematic with these, and we probably haven't applied them very consistently, so interpret them as seems best to you. Here's a rough guide which might clarify our intentions :
 directionsInstructions forming part of the performance, usually to be carried out just where they appear.
 instructions for congregationThese might be spoken, or implied somehow ( perhaps by the projected script ).
 movements during serviceCommonly instructions to get ready for something coming soon, not necessarily exactly at that point.
 prayers and readingsBits which should be taken with proper seriousness.
 sections of the service Subtitles for the sections. Sometimes it makes sense to regard them as script, other times just as markers. Use your initiative.

Movements. Our space for performance is quite limited. The area in front of the front row of congregation's seats contains the altar rail across the church, with a gate in the middle ( shown as a gap on the plan ), about two metres in front of the seats. The wall is about four metres beyond the rail; in this space, the altar is in the centre near the wall, and the organ is on the right ( looking from the body of the church ). The projector screen and lectern are also on the right ( see above ).

The space available for performance is therefore the area in front of the altar, and the area to the hospital side of the altar. Access to this space is through the gate in the altar rail, in the middle, and through the gap between rail and wall at the hospital side. The gap at the other side is in the area occupied by organ, lectern, and projector; we have found it best to use this during the performance parts of the service as little as possible.

All this is fairly constraining. We have described it in some detail, because it accounts for some of the rather contrived movements prescribed in the stage directions. For example, if in a Carol service we use the altar rail gate as the door of the inn, and we set the stable just in front of the altar, then the innkeeper is more or less forced to lead Mary and Joseph to the stable by coming out of the gate, round the end of the altar rail at the hospital side, and back across to the altar - and he should go back by the same route.

Clearly, if your available area is less constrained, you will have more freedom. You should regard our stage directions as indicative only, and work out how to achieve the best effect in your own environment.

Overhead projector
( - and other video arrangements ).
We have always used some sort of visual aid, primarily to provide a comprehensible version of what's going on even if our very amateur performers make a mess of their parts. This was originally an overhead projector using transparencies, but eventually changed to a video projector running a "presentation" from a computer, which is much easier and more versatile.

The projector screen is always on the front wall of the church, next to the organ, because that's where the hooks are to attach it to the wall. ( See, for example, this picture from our Trinity Sunday service in 2009. ) The projector itself was therefore towards the right-hand side of the church, just below the first step ( for the overhead projector ) or the second step ( for the video projector ) down from the altar. This inevitably reduced our "stage" area, but we didn't have any obvious alternative. Your area might well be different, in which case you might be able to improve on our "stage directions".

Some time after getting the video projector, we found a way to suspend it from the ceiling rather than standing on the floor. We first used this in our Family Service of July 2006; it gave us a lot more space.

Properties. We avoid the use of elaborate scenery or devices in our services because getting them going consumes either money or time ( or both ) which we don't want to waste. Nevertheless, from time to time, some object seems to be sufficiently useful to be worth acquiring. These are mentioned in the scripts where appropriate; there is also a list, which is so far incomplete but which we'll try to get, and keep, up to date. ( We shall probably not succeed. )

Alan Creak,
2010 January.