Our aim is to encourage the current congregation
on its Christian journey
and to encourage new members to join us.
Who we are: The parish of Melbury Abbas and Cann consists of Melbury Abbas and Cann, East and West Melbury, Cann Common and Guy’s Marsh. It is a scattered parish with farms, cottages and larger properties. The population contains significantly more retired people than young families. St Thomas’s church is a delightful country church, set in a quiet country lane with views towards Melbury Hill and Fontmell Down. It is one of the last buildings in the parish to provide support to the community, the post office, public houses and school having become private dwellings. The church was rebuilt in 1852 on the site of previous churches, the first one recorded in the 12th century. Its distinctive tower houses five bells. There is a pipe organ and microphone system. Recent improvements include a kitchenette and WC. The church is in good structural and decorative order. The licensed village hall hosts social events and is used by St Thomas’s for some of its fund-raising events. St Thomas’s is a welcoming church, open every day.
Services: The pattern of worship includes Common Worship, together with Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion and Matins. The associate priest is supported by a lay worship leader, a sacristan, lesson readers, altar assistants, lay intercessors and by two lay pastoral assistants. The congregation averages 20 people, but numbers significantly increase for services at Easter, Harvest, Remembrance Day, Christmas, Rogation, Mothering Sunday and Pet Service. We host the monthly team service when required. The electoral roll stands at 64. In 2013, there were two baptisms, one wedding and four funerals.
What we do as a church community beyond Sunday services:
- Fridays at 8.30 am, Morning Prayer. Once a month, this is replaced with breakfast followed by Holy Communion, which attracts non-churchgoers.
- Bible study courses are held twice a year.
- St Thomas’s Preservation Society raises funds for restoration and maintenance projects.
- The Diocesan link with Lui, South Sudan, is supported in prayer and financially.
- Members of the congregation and others form a team of bell ringers, ringing at services at least monthly.
- Communion is taken to our hospital in Shaftesbury and to any house-bound parishioner.
- St Thomas’s holds an open-air service at the annual village Vintage Rally.
- A Nativity Festival was held in December 2013. A donation was given to the Tear Fund ‘Toilet Twinning’ project.
- Last year, a concert of chamber music was held in the church, for the first time.
- We support the inter-denominational Churches Together services.
- Our church supports the Churches Together Lent Lunches, in aid of Christian Aid.
People who keep the church running smoothly: The seven-strong PCC includes one churchwarden, secretary, treasurer, team council and deanery representatives. There are two organists. There are rotas for sidespeople, provision of flowers in church, church cleaning, churchyard maintenance, serving coffee after some services, daily opening and closing of the building.
Working with the Deanery: A PCC representative attends Deanery Synod meetings and reports back with information and requests. Donations have been made to provide bicycles for clergy and midwives in Lui, South Sudan.
Communication: A weekly church news pew sheet is available at services and also online. There is a prayer request board.