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The parish of St John's Woodbridge is comparatively small with a population of 1575. The electoral roll currently totals 282 made up largely from outside the parish of St John's but within the Woodbridge area. Our geographical parish is a small part of the town of Woodbridge, sandwiched between the parishes of St Mary's Woodbridge and St Andrew's Melton. The area is mainly residential with a wide variety of housing from houseboats to Victorian mansions!
St John's is a lively, thriving church of a Charismatic and Evangelical ethos which attracts people of all ages. There are many young families in the congregation, and we have a well attended Junior Church. There are three County primary school and a Church of England primary school in the adjoining parishes.
The church family at St John's has as its mission statement - "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations". We follow this mission in several ways:
Worship : with an emphasis on praise and teaching the church offers a varied pattern of services which attempt to include all age groups. Opportunity is made for both informal, Common Worship and prayer book services with many of the congregation involved in leading worship and intercessions. Some of the many talented musicians and singers join the worship bands which enhances both praise and worship. The Junior Church and Youth Congregations have separate programmes with their own time of worship and teaching, which includes some time spent in main services and some in age related groups.
Fellowship : with a Welcome Team, refreshments after morning service, prayer support, housegroups and many opportunities to meet, we hope that newcomers are welcomed and supported. An increasing percentage of people are involved in the housegroups as we encourage more members to join a small group. Within the church there is a tradition of shared lunches, parish holidays, welcome suppers and youth activities aimed at encouraging all to know their neighbours and to support one another. St John’s has a biannual parish holiday at Sizewell Hall for a week in August, with between 60 and 80 people of all ages taking part. A regular feature there is a visit of elderly folk from the parish for an afternoon tea, which is organised by the Pastoral Committee. It is very much the intention that all age groups are encouraged to live out our mission statement.
Outreach : we regularly run Alpha courses. These have varied in number from 6 to about 120 (when we ran an 'Alpha for Us' at a local school, mainly for St John's members, but also for members of other churches who were looking to run their own Alpha courses), joining together to explore the faith and share it with others. Although we have grown in learning, we have only experienced limited growth in numbers. We plan to use Alpha as a continuous means of evangelism, undertaking one or two a year.
The small size of our parish gives limited opportunity for contact through marriages, etc. but our eclectic nature means we have many natural contacts over a wide geographic area. Several years ago the church appointed a full time youth worker for our youth project and we continue to seek ways to extend this work out from the church with involvement in the local schools, community and the diocese.
Group Ministry : in recognition of our complementary ministries and the way in which residents in the Woodbridge area are able (and do) exercise their choice of place of worship, we have formed a group ministry with the adjoining parishes of St Mary's and St Andrew's. The intention is that our combined resources can be used to serve Woodbridge and Melton, with the possibility of additional parishes in the future. St John's also works closely with the other Christian churches in Woodbridge and one of our PCC members chairs the "Churches Together in Woodbridge and Melton" council which plans the several ecumenical services and activities each year.
There are a number of groups operating within the Church including housegroups, Link Up (an ecumenical women’s group held fortnightly), Men at St John's (monthly), etc. There is a prayer ministry support team, a pastoral committee who visit and care for the elderly and housebound, and World Mission Action Group which seeks to promote World Mission in the life of the church. There is a regular weekday morning prayer meeting which is open for all Church members, held in the Church from 9 to 9.30am.
St John's has close links with Hollesley Bay Prison and Young Offenders Institution, and several members of the Church are involved in Prison Fellowship. They help lead the Sunday worship in the Prison Chapel once a month and some have become prison visitors.
We support a variety of missionary organisations both at home and abroad, financially, with personal links and in prayer. These include mission partners with some of the major missionary societies aswell as some small local organisations.
The church building itself was re-ordered in the mid -90s with the removal of the Victorian pews, these being replaced by chairs, and the replacement of the pipe organ with a small but versatile digital organ. A disabled toilet was incorporated and a new servery built. The Church has a good PA system and an induction loop, and most services are recorded. The building is used for a variety of mid-week events, including our mid-week Holy Communion Service (BCP) and Tuesday toddler group.
The Church Hall is located in St John's Street. This was refurbished in 2012 and is used by some Junior Church groups each Sunday as well as for other church activities, and is also hired out to several organisations and individuals within the community.
The Old Vicarage in St John's Hill is the property of the Church and is used to house offices for the Vicar, the Church and the youth work. The Church office is staffed for part of each weekday, providing a central point of contact for the Church and dealing with all the administration. The Old Vicarage is also used during the week by a pre-school and on Sundays for some of the younger Junior Church groups and creche and also at 11am it is the meeting place for Cells (Revival Congregation). Church meetings are often held in here, e.g PCCs, Pastoral, Junior Church. There are also dedicated meeting rooms upstairs.