Recent Events

Sunday 29th November: Advent Sunday

Here are links to an Advent service  that was specially recorded by the minister and a group of members together with the associated order of service which contains the words of the readings and hymns. We hope you enjoy listening to it.

Order of Service 29.11.2020 Advent I

Wednesday 11th November 

Armistice Day

We had a special moment on 11th November where between 10:30 – 11:30 the church was open for private prayer, and the 2 minute silence at 11:00

This was a moving time for those who were present.

(The photo on the right was taken in the quiet of the church  on Wednesday morning).




Some of you may have spotted that the tree standing at the front of Immanuel is in its full autumn glory at the moment and helps remind us that even in these difficult days, there is still much to give thanks for in God’s wonderful world.

Sunday Worship 1st November

This morning’s worship was conducted by our minister; the duty elder and reader was Tom Hartshorn, and the prayers , written by Janet and David Leadbeater, were read by Liz Gibney. Links to  both the sound file and order of service are below:

Order of Service 1 Nov 2020


Sunday Worship 25th October

This morning’s service was conducted by ‘our own’ Geoff Gleed, who also officiated at the organ: we are so fortunate to be able to call on him from  time to time. Robert was preaching at our sister church at Highworth that has now resumed a regular pattern of worship. 

In terms of the the recording of the morning service there was a minor ‘glitch’ half way through but it was soon resolved, so do not adjust your set! The service is introduced and the reading given by Steve Brain. A link to both the sound file and the order of service is below:

Order of Service 25.10.20


Sunday Worship 18th October

Unfortunately the recording of the morning service today failed, so we have no record of the service that was taken by Eric Hewitt of Bath Road who came to us as part of the Partnership ‘pulpit exchange’.

Sunday Service 11th October

Below are the links that will take you to a recording of our morning worship today and also to the order of service (which will give you the text of the reading as well as the words of the hymns).  The minister’s chaplain, who also gave the reading from Exodus, is Paddy Hayes.


Order of Service 11.10.20


Harvest Sunday 4th October

In contrast with a traditional display of flowers and produce, this year saw a much simpler presentation and service – perhaps more in keeping with the times in which we live. Nonetheless, led by the minister, we did indeed celebrate God’s bounty to us in  a range of beautiful music, hymns, readings and poems. If you care to use the link  below you can share with us and follow the order of service that is also available. Other than the minister, voices you will hear are those of Mike Gordon (duty elder), Steve Brain, Jean Batten and Jane Whitworth (who led our prayers of intercession.)

Apologies for the slightly annoying hum that affects the lectern microphone!

Order of service 4.10.20



Sunday Service 27th September

Here are the links that will lead to a recoding of this morning’s service at Immanuel and also to the order of service withthe reading. Unfortunately there is an extended pause at the start and the duty elder’s announcements (Francs Strange) have been  cut. The reader is Pam Western.

Order of Service 27.09.20



Sunday Service 20th September

Below you will find  links that will lead directly to a recording of the morning service today as well as the order of service. We do hope it will bring you all closer to the life of Immanuel.

Order of Service – 20.9.20


Sunday Service 13th September

As Robert reminded us this morning, this is the 6th Sunday that we have been able to resume our worship and a new sense of normality is now beginning to set in: below please find the liink that will provide you with a recording of the service. There is also a link to the order of service that includes the words of the reading and the hymns. We do hope it will bring you all closer to the life of Immanuel.


Order of Service – 13 Sept 2020



Sunday Service 6th September

Below is the link to the recording of last Sunday’s service at Immanuel; simply click on the start ‘arrow’ on the left to hear the service.

Note: there is a slightly long ‘run-in’ prior to the start of the service, so don’t be put off by the silence! Below please find the link to the order of service that also includes the words of the hymns and the reading.

Order of Service – 6 Sept 2020



Sunday Service 30th August

Here is the link that will give you acces to the recording of the morning service at Immanuel on 30th August; simply click on the start ‘arrow’ on the left to hear the service.

As is now our custom, the sermon links with the ‘reflection’ that you can find on our covid 19 page elsewhere on this site, and below is a link to the order of zervice.

Order of Service – 30 Aug 2020

Sunday Service 23rd August

Below you will find a link to the recording of Sunday worship at Immanuel led by the minister on 23rd August; simply click on the start ‘arrow’ on the left to hear the service.

The sermon links with the ‘reflection’ that you can find on our covid 19 page elsewhere on this site, and below is a link to the order of zervice.

Immanuel Order of Service – 23 Aug


Sunday Service 16th August

At long last the web-master has managed to sort out the technical issues and with luck has succeeded in posting a recording of the recent Sunday service.

In theory you simply click on the start ‘arrow’ on the left and the service will be heard.

Please note that there were some initial problems with Robert’s microphone, but the sound soon settles down and is quite easy to hear. Also note that here are several moments of silence.

The reading for the day is Matthew 15: vv 10 – 28

We hope you will enjoy listening to the service and feel you are joining with the fellowship of worshippers at Immanuel.

Coffee Morning  15th August


Saturday saw a further virtual event for Immanuel – thanks to the wonders of technology fourteen of us managed to meet up over coffee and biscuits (some of us even treated ourselves to chocolate ones!). Perhaps there were not as many folk as on previous occasions, but the fun and laughter was just the same with  a lot of banter ing tossed about as people recalled what it was like to attend church ‘back in the day’ – lots of memories of ministers in ‘thick dog collars’, rather prim and forbidding elders/ deacons  and ladies in hats  (woebetide any woman who came to church without a hat even in the 1950s and 1960s!) It was also great to catch up on all sorts of ‘family news’. So if we hold another one, do join us. It was a lovely time together. 

Sunday 9th August

Normal Service resumes

Well perhaps not exactly ‘normal’, but after twenty weeks of being closed, Immanuel finally opened its doors for worship.

As the photos reveal, we weren’t exactly ‘packed out’ but 30 or so Immanuel members and associates turned out for the first socially distanced service. Thanks to our wonderful B&G committee, sanitizer was available as we came in,  seating was clearly marked out and stewards were there to show us to our seats.  A printed order of service gave us all we needed – hymns and readings  were there to follow.

Candles were lit to help us focus on both looking back with thanks but also looking forward with hope and Robert led our thoughts in a very apposite reflection on the reading for the day – the story of both Christ and Peter walking on the water.

It did seem distinctly odd not  to be able to sing but good use was made of recordings of our own choir leading the hymns, so the building resounded to some excellent music!

I think we’d all  admit that sitting for 40 minutes in a face mask on a hot summer’s day was not exactly how we’d have preferred to spend our time, but, judging by the conversations overheard outside at the end of the morning,  everyone was pleased they’d come and delighted to be able to actually speak face to face after such a long period of lock-down.

The only problem came to light after the service when we realised that the recording we’d hoped to circulate as an audio file had failed to record properly ….ah well, here’s to next week!


18th July: “Virtual Tea Party”

Following on from the ‘zoomed coffee morning’ held back in June, a similar group of Immanuel friends and associates joined up on-line over an afternoon cuppa. Much fun and laughter was shared ‘over the ether’ and one of our number (who will remain nameless) made us all very envious as she tucked into a  delicious-looking chocolate éclair!

(Once again, my apologies for the slightly blurry screen shot.)

At one point there were 19 of us who had managed to link up  (including one couple enjoying themselves in the sunshine down in Dorset!) and it was really good to be able to share tales of what we’d all been up to  as well as news of others from the Immanuel fellowship.

Like the earlier coffee morning it wasn’t quite the same experience as being able to talk literally face to face but let us hope that it won’t be too long before we will all be able to meet up in the church parlour or hall and really enjoy each others’ company.


20th June: “Virtual Coffee Morning”

The church elders have been holding regular meetings via “zoom” so we felt if might be a good idea to hold a ‘zoomed coffee morning for those Immanuel members and associates who wanted to meet up via their computers. Granted it wasn’t quite the same experience as we might have had chatting over coffee in ther church parlour, and we did have to make our own coffee and provide our own biscuits but there was a real buzz as some 27 of us gathered to swap news. 

All of us really appreciated the chance to talk and more importantly see each other – for some the first time in over three months!  It was the overwhelming decision to repeat the event so do look out for the invitation via weekly news (and  it really is very easy to do – providing you have a computer, tablet or smart phone!)

The picture below is a quick screeen shot, so apologies for the poor quality, but it gives an idea who was there ……

30th April: a message from “Traidcraft”

The following message has been received from Traidcraft and seeing that so many of Immanuel’s congregation support this vital charity it is felt that we should share the contents more widely…..

…………   A couple of months ago I was in Mumbai, meeting with our India and Bangladesh teams to discuss Traidcraft Exchange’s plans for the future. We didn’t know then that the lives of billions of people were about to be turned upside down by the coronavirus.  As CEO of Traidcraft Exchange, I wanted to write to share what life is like for the poor people we support in developing countries.

For some communities we work with, the impact of the lockdown has been immediate and devastating.

Migrant workers in Bangladesh and India have been left without work. Not registered for the government support available, and used to living hand to mouth, people are struggling to survive. Many are travelling hundreds of miles on foot trying to get back to their home villages. Our partners have been amazing in adapting our programmes to meet these challenges – running a helpline, linking people up with transport and local support services, and critically, providing food.

Garment factory workers across Asia are also facing extreme hardship. Factories have been closing as orders dry up. Some have not even been paid for work they did back in March. That’s why we’re calling on UK clothing brands to honour their existing contracts and not to leave workers destitute. 

For others we work with, the impact is less immediate but equally serious.

The crunch point for the farmers we support will come when they need to harvest their crops and sell their produce. Without access to transport and many markets closed, will they be able to do this? How will they navigate a completely new set of circumstances? As yet, we just don’t know.

We have never faced a pandemic of this magnitude before nor have we had to manage such unprecedented levels of uncertainty. At Traidcraft Exchange, we are focusing our resources on responding to the immediate needs of communities who are most vulnerable and most affected by this crisis. But we’re also turning our attention to how we can support people beyond survival to recover and rebuild their businesses and livelihoods  We wouldn’t be able to react so quickly to help those in need without your continued support  – thank you; it really is appreciated.

But as we hope to return to some form of normality in coming months and years, this crisis has reminded us that a return to ‘the way things were’ is simply not good enough.

The coronavirus is shining a spotlight on the huge inequalities and injustices that lie at the heart of our international trading system. People working at the bottom of global supply chains, have been living in extreme vulnerability and poverty for far too long.

As we look to recover and rebuild for a different future, we are working hard to ensure that it is a better and fairer world that we create. At this difficult time, let me once again thank you, wholeheartedly, for joining us in this journey.

Charlotte Timson       Chief Executive Officer at Traidcraft Exchange                          

        Mailing address: Traidcraft Exchange 5th Floor,  7 – 15 Pink Lane,  Newcastle Upon Tyne  NE1 5DW  UK
Telephone: 0191 497 6445

16th April:  A new banner for Immanuel

With the current full-blown pandemic obviously the church building is closed to all activities including worship, but it does not mean that the church is not active in different ways and one small idea that we have ‘borrowed’ from our friends at Bath Road is a simple way to identify with the thanks being expressed to NHS workers, carers and all those working to uphold our communities.


8th March: Partnership Birthday Service

8th March saw the celebration of the Partnership’s 51st birthday with a united 10.00 am service at Christ Church.  A debt of gratitude is due to our Focus Group and the team who drew up the order of service……building on last year’s memorable service when Martin Palmer challenged us all to take on board the worrying issues of global warming and other ecological matters that  are now to the fore throughout the world,  this year’s service was very much in the same mould. It was good too, to see how well it linked up with the theme of our Lenten house groups this year.

Centred on the story of the prodigal son. our visiting preacher, Revd Dr Mark Siddall, took us through the parable and perhaps made some of us see it in a new light – I doubt many had really seen the link between the Greek “oikos” (home) and how it linked with both ‘economy’ and ‘ecology’ which  are so closely interrelated.  The whole service was a timely reminder of how important it is to return to the ‘family farm’  and find our right place in God’s creation  Mark certainly had a way with the children who will doubtless always remember how the wayward son scattered his money around with such gay abandon (what a pity it was only Monopoly money!)

Hymns were well selected and well-known, the prayers and readings all meaningful and it was great to have the update on Messy Church  to remind us of all the outreach work that goes on in our name each month.

My only criticism is that the church wasn’t packed….we surely didn’t have three full congregations crammed into Christ Church! Those who couldn’t make it missed out!

9th February

Today saw the first Church Meeting of the year when we gathered following our morning service. Among items discussed was the need to identify a replacement for David Leadbeater when he retires as Church Secretary at the AGM in April; in addition members were reminded of the importance of nominating up to six names to stand as elders for the next three years.  Reports were given on Messy Church, Buildings and Grounds as well as the Partnership. One other important item  of business was the formal adoption of the Church GDPR policy that covers our data protection issues. Final version DATA PRIVACY STATEMENT February 2020

2nd February


Under the banner of the “Walking the Way” initiative, and on behalf of Immanuel’s elders, a small group of members devised and led an innovative service that challenged us all to look at the lovely old stories of Genesis. We were asked four questions:

  1. Do you believe in Genesis?
  2. Are you embarrassed by it?
  3. What questions do you have of it as a Christian?
  4. Do you think science has won the day?

Roy Lowes led a series of different  reflections and we were then asked to consider the same questions and ponder if perhaps our answers had changed.

A follow up session is planned for Wednesday evening 5th February at 7.00pm at Immanuel to consider the theme still further and to share ideas and thoughts.

26th January: Christingle Service

Sunday morning saw Stuart Benjamin once again leading our worship and in characteristic manner he introduced us all to the background of the delightful family-based concept of the “Christingle”.  With its origins in 18th century southern Germany the “christkindl”  has become a much-loved way of introducing children (and adults too!) to the ideas of the all embracing love of God, the wonders of the world round us,  and Jesus as the light of the world.  Immanuel’s congregation were quick to get involved and thronged to the front of the church to join in the somewhat messy task of creating their own christingles. By the end of morning, what was a very dull, grey day was certainly brightened by the glow of all the candles lit ! A rousing chorus of “Shine Jesus Shine” ended our service as we went out into a miserably wet  day but with  warmth in our hearts.

 Thank you Stuart!

25th  January:

Aldbourne Band Concert

The fourth Saturday of the New Year once again saw the return of the prize-winning band to Immanuel. For well over 50 years they have made an annual visit to us as their first concert of the year and have always ‘wowed’ us with some wonderful music. This year was certainly no different, with supporting artists, their Junior Band, they were simply brilliant  and a packed church thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of music and some spectacular soloists. We are truly fortunate that this link with the band exists and as everyone in Saturday’s audience will agree, long may it continue.

The band takes its bow at the end of a spectacular night of music.


19th January: morning worship

As part of the service today, the choir performed an anthem that was new to their repertoire: “The Work of Christmas” by Dan Forrest. At the end of our worship several members of the congregation asked for copies of the words…so here they are:

The Work of Christmas by Howard Thurman (1899-1981)

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the Kings and Princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry

To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among brothers,

To make music from the heart.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the Kings and Princes are home,

And the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins.

The composer says: ” These lines call us not to merely take in the sights and sounds of the Christmas celebration, but to respond by doing our part in working towards the ‘peace on earth’ we so often sing about……once in a while a text seems to sing right off the page, and this poem did just that”

Thank you to Geoff and the choir for bringing us not just a lovely melody, but some powerfully challenging words.


16th December: Carols on the Carpet

In what has become something of a tradition at Immanuel, the church hall filled up on Monday with folk from the local community around the church for an hour’s sing-along of Christmas carols.

Geoff played his usual role of emcee and with him on the keyboard, two flutes and bass a merry time was had by all.

To save everyone’s ears we sensibly kept the children’s instruments back,  until half way through the hour, but it has to be said that we should have waited until we’d sung “Silent Night” –  few babes (if any) would have slept through it.

There was a good turn-out of church members and friends but the vast majority of the were from the local community and it was great that afterwards over hot mince pies and coffee many of them popped into the church to admire the display of Christmas trees.  


15th December : Our Gift Service and Carols by Candlelight   

 A mountain of presents grew under our Christmas tree on Sunday morning as members of the congregation brought gifts that were later on distributed to the Harbour Project.  This charity has been supported by Immanuel for a number of years,  but it was the first time that they will have benefited by receiving   gifts at Christmas. The Harbour Project works to support refugees and asylum seekers  who find themselves placed in Swindon  and offers them a place to meet as well as all manner of practical help and advice. It was good to see that as well as lots of toys for the children,  the adults had not been forgotten either.


Our evening worship took the form of the  very lovely Candlelit Carol Service with the traditional readings telling the story of that first Christmas  as well as lots of favourite carols for the congregation to join in and,  in addition, some splendid music from the choir. (Sadly no photos, but a recording is available!)


1st December: Advent Sunday 

Partnership Service at Immanuel and Launch of our Christmas Tree Festival

Immediately prior to the start of our Advent service, the mayor of Swindon, Kevin Parry,  was able to join us and formally opened the Partnership Christmas Tree Festival: across the churches of the partnership there was a wide variety of trees on display  representing a huge number of groups and societies in the town.

At Bath Road there was perhaps more limited space, but this meant that people have had to work hard an in most ingenious ways to depict their organisation in the window ledges available!

Whereas  at Christchurch, the brave decision was taken to encourage groups to place their trees outside – with luck, before too long I’ll manage a photo at night time with all the lights a-twinkling!

Being rather partisan, I have to say that Immanuel’s display looks simply great – congratulations to all the groups and individuals for creating such an impressive impact. It meant that our  advent service was held in a church transformed with so many delightful trees around us. An augmented choir performed several pieces for advent  and it was truly a most uplifting act of worship with all our churches taking part. Despite the bitter weather the turn-out was good and we nearly raised the roof with some rousing advent hymns .

30th November: Partnership Christmas Tree Festival – set-up day!

It took months of planning but finally ‘set-up day’ arrived and across our Old Town Partnership of churches frenzied activity was taking place as assorted groups and individuals set about erecting and decorating Christmas trees…..and what ingenious ideas people came up with!

left: members of the Women’s Fellowship busily working on their display of the myriad of activities and talks they’ve enjoyed over the past year.

By the end of the day there were more than 25 different trees in position around the church from groups and societies with links to Immanuel, and what a sight it was.

Right: The Young Mums’ contribution gets a finishing touch  from Ceri as the girls look on.

During the preparation time it was agreed that as so much work had gone into the displays, that to have them in church just for a week wasn’t doing them justice. So although the church will only be open 1st – 8th December for  official viewing, those with trees on display will leave them until Christmas – that way  we can all enjoy them during our Christmas services.

Meanwhile, do spread the word and encourage family and friends to pop in over the course of the next week: the church will be open every afternoon from 2.00pm  – 6.00pm  and with  extended hours on Saturday and Sunday….it will be well worth the visit!

As an added extra, (and thanks to Peter and Liz Gibney and friends) our Outreach Committee has set up a fun board outside the church to advertise Christmas, that may well appeal to the children and young at heart.


10th November: Remembrance Sunday

As has been our custom  now for several years, in the lead up to the two-minute silence during our Remembrance Service, via the radio  we  linked up to the BBC broadcast and were thus able to join in with the whole nation in that solemn act. I am sure the whole congregation felt as moved as me when the bell of Big Ben resounded through the church and even more so when the buglers of the Royal Marines sounded out the Last Post.

One sight many of the congregation would not have spotted during our morning worship, was the glorious picture presented to the choir in the windows of the prayer corner as the sun in the most spectacular way filtered through the leaves of the copper beech tree out in the grounds of Charlton House.

Our evening service was once again an act of remembrance as we recalled those recently departed from our own congregation or whose funerals have been conducted by either Robert or Geoff  over the past year. Candles were lit in a simple act of   remembrance and we were all uplifted by some very moving music from the choir. Our thanks to Robert and Geoff for two very poignant services today!


13th October: Our harvest Appeal

Immanuel Harvest Appeal

Sunday 13th October was when we launched our  2019 Harvest Appeal here at Immanuel, and what a challenging event it was!

This year the charity we have chosen to support is ShelterBox, which some of you probably know about. Liz Odell shared the morning service with us and even brought a Shelter Box with her, except for the tent –which is heavy to carry, and not something we could set up as part of the service, otherwise she showed us the content of the Box, among other things tarpaulins, blankets, water filter, pots and pans, mosquito netting, tools, even a floating solar powered lamp which lasts 16 hours. She shared the story of ShelterBox and told us of the many  times they have reached out to victims following  natural disasters, hurricanes and to refugees  – the lot!

Liz herself has been on many of these missions making sure the boxes reach the people in need, and told us how lives are changed, sometimes through a tent which becomes “home” while the destroyed house is being re-built with tools provided; even how the solar light helped a man in Peru, extend his day activities beyond sun set because he now had light.

Everybody felt challenged, and there was a time to ask questions over coffee/tea at the end of the service with the ShelterBox to be explored close up.

This charity carries out amazing work and we pray Immanuel’s Harvest Appeal can respond to this challenge, so that with the money received, a number of Boxes can be bought and reach the many people who year by year are affected in so many different ways and that these people may know there are many who care and help.

As usual our World Concerns committee set up a really great display with photos, information and our target for this year… little by little I am sure we WILL get there.

Thanks to ShelterBox  for all they do,  and thanks to Liz Odell for sharing her story of ShelterBox and helping us understand, in a very moving way what it does.

Please make sure you know about this and try to  contribute to this year’s Appeal if you feel you can.

6th October: Harvest Thanksgiving

Once again the floral artists of Immanuel had worked hard to put on a splendid display depicting the bountiful harvest we enjoy. Under the watchful eye of our resident scarecrow the red, yellow and orange hues of the flowers complemented the colours of the fruit and veg that spread out from the communion table.

Whilst in the windows, matching displays picked out all manner of harvest crops.

Those who came into  the church via the East porch encountered a striking display based on the theme of ‘wine’ – what our teetotal, non-conformist forebears would have made of that I dread to think, but it certainly made for a striking display!

It goes without saying that following a very long tradition at Immanuel  our congregation brought their own gifts of God’s bounty to us that were later distributed to those in need: this year our Harvest donations go to the “Swindon Food Collective” (or foodbank) and the “Swindon Night Shelter” that provides not only overnight accommodation but a hot midday meal to the homeless of the town and others in need.

As always, bunches of flowers were taken out to friends unable to be with us to share in what was yet again a memorable service of thanksgiving, during which we were all reminded of the desperate need to care for our fragile world.