Find out about the Church Friends scheme by clicking on the link above.
St Leonard, the patron saint of our parish church, is believed to have been a French nobleman who, on conversion to Christianity, gave up worldly fortunes to become a man of prayer living alone in the forest. Legend has it that when the king and his pregnant queen were hunting in the forest the queen's labour started and was a difficult one. Leonard undertook to pray for the queen and when she was safely delivered the king was so overjoyed he would have offered Leonard any material reward he had asked for. Instead Leonard asked for the freedom of every prisoner he could convert to Christianity and a place in the forest to provide for their shelter. When the king granted him that, he spent the rest of his life in prayer, mission and practical service to prisoners.
We continue to be inspired by this example of St Leonard as man of deep prayer who also had a pastoral concern for those in any need or trouble. Our parish, rooted in the centre of the community's life, seeks to support members of the community and congregation in any kind of need, to witness for Christ to those in trouble and to pray continually for all in need.
As a parish church for a large population we have many opportunities to show care for people at moments of crisis or points of transition. In joy and in sorrow the church tries to accompany individuals and families at key points. The fact that many couples choose the beautiful parish church as a place for marriage ceremonies means that we run regular marriage preparation courses, helping couples prepare for their new life together. Then the start of a new family can be surrounded by the prayers of the church.
Many children are baptised at St Leonard's church and, again, we take seriously the opportunity for parents to reflect and learn together about the meaning of baptism and the important responsibilities they are taking on. Newly baptised children are then presented to and welcomed by the wider congregation.
Like St Leonard we are privileged to accompany those in sickness and suffering. At a practical level we run a team of visitors to support patients from all over the city using the chaplaincy services at the large Queen’s Medical Centre on the edge of the parish and we visit at home and in hospital those who ask for this. Regular week-by-week prayer for the sick is an important part of our worship. We have a team of people who provide a ministry of prayer and healing, with opportunities for individual prayer at most main services. Every fourth Sunday in the month the evening service on Sunday is a special service on themes of healing and wholeness with extended ministry of prayer. This is time both to remember the wholeness that all of us need and to pray for those in special need. Prayer for those caring for the sick or working in helping and support roles is an important part of these services.
The Parish has a team of Pastoral Visitors who, with the clergy and others with counselling skills, provide support to a wide range of individuals in trouble or need. This ministry can sometimes go on for many years, faithfully supporting those with chronic or long-term conditions. We seek to improve and extend these systems of support.
To those who mourn at times of loss and bereavement, the ministry of St Leonard's provides support both before and after funeral services with a team of bereavement counselling volunteers. Again regular prayer for individuals who have lost loved ones is an important part of our worship.
Many of the groups active at St Leonard's include prayer in their other activities - following that mixture of practical work and prayer displayed by St Leonard.
The church building itself, a silent and beautiful witness at the heart of the community, is a place for individual prayer through the week and we welcome the fact that members of the community use the opportunity to drop in for a moment of quiet in busy lives. This oasis of peace is much appreciated even by those with only loose links with the church. The building itself offers a sign of the love of God for all who pass by or come in and we aim, like St Leonard, to offer service and faithful witness passed on from generation to generation. Requests for prayer may be left on cards in church.