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St Thomas’ Melbury Abbas

 St Thomas Melbury Abbas | Church Guide |Church Calendar

Our aim is to encourage the current congregation
on its Christian journey
and to encourage new members to join us.

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. The church continues 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. 

The original Victorian stained glass windows were designed by Thomas Willement [1786-1871] who was Queen Victoria’s “Artist in Stained Glass” by Royal Patent. A more modern stained glass window, by Heaton, Butler and Bayne who made stained glass windows for churches and cathedrals across Britain, Europe and North America, was placed in 1920 in memory of the Rector’s son, Lionel Carver, who was killed in the closing months of the First World War.

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 consists of two services each month, with Matins led by our lay worship leader on the second Sunday and a service of Holy Communion on the fourth Sunday. The Benefice includes a Team Rector, a Team Vicar and a Curate, and one of these leads our Communion services. St Thomas’s would not run without the invaluable help of members of the congregation: two sacristans, lesson readers, altar assistants, lay intercessors and a lay pastoral assistant. The electoral roll stands at 49. The congregation averages 20 people, but numbers significantly increase for services at Easter, Harvest Festival, Remembrance Day, Rogation, Mothering Sunday, the Pet Service and Christmas. The Carol Service brings in people from a variety of village organizations and in 2022 seventy people came to the beautiful candle-lit service. We host the monthly team service when required. At our 2023 Team service we initiated a collection to provide lamps for the people of Ukraine, which eventually brought in almost £2000. The Coronation of King Charles was celebrated with a special Commemorative service followed by a Coronation lunch in the Village Hall.

We reach out to the Community in a number of ways: Once a month on the first Friday we hold a church breakfast which also attracts non-church-goers. St Thomas’s Preservation Society holds social events to raise 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. Our Christmas collections and collections on other special occasions are given to a chosen charity. Smartie pots are handed out at Harvest Festival and people return them filled with 20ps. In 2022 this brought in over £300. Communion is taken to any house-bound parishioner.

We support the inter-denominational Churches Together services and events; Open House Shaftesbury, a Church based charity providing benefit and housing advice and Food Bank; and Churches Together Lent Lunches in aid of Christian Aid.

People who keep the church running smoothly: The seven-strong PCC includes a secretary, treasurer, and team council representatives. There is a regular organist. The church could not run so well without the help of many parishioners including sidespeople, those who do flower arranging, church cleaning, churchyard maintenance, serving coffee after services, daily opening and closing of the building. St Thomas’s contributes to KeyRing, a Benefice publication which enables the churches to communicate and share their news.

Working with the Deanery: A PCC representative attends Deanery Synod meetings and reports back with information and requests.