Greeters will welcome you at the front door of the parish and they will give you a Sunday service bulletin. The Greeters are a good source for any questions you may have before, or during the service. If you have any special needs, like you are unable to come up to the rail for Communion, but would still like to receive, tell an Greeter and they will let the priest know.
Have a seat anywhere you like; people will be happy to share a pew with you. Before the service some organ or piano music will be played. This is a nice time to pray and focus yourself for worship; some folks chat a bit, and that’s okay, too. You may see some people scurrying around up near the altar and the lectern, making last minute preparations before for the service begins. There are visitor cards in the pew rack in front of you. We would love for you to fill one out to let us know a little about you and your visit with us today, and there is a guest book at the back of the church too.
We are happy to have children and youth in church with us, and we don’t mind a little extra noise. We have a “soft space” within the church for younger children to have a space that is just their size, where parents can sit with their children, and the children can still listen within a space that makes it possible for them to keep themselves occupied, and where they can still experience the service too. Church School starts at 9:45am and is in the Church School wing of the parish; the children and youth join us in the church at the Peace. We also have wonderful nursery for the little ones if a parent needs a different space for a little bit; the nursery is also in the Church School wing. If you wish to take your youngsters to either place, the Greeters will be happy to direct you. Your children are always welcome to stay in church with you.
Epiphany’s services begin with a Prelude; then everyone stands and sings the first hymn while the altar party processes to the front of the church. The words to the hymns can be found in the Hymnal, the larger blue book in the pew rack, the smaller book, red book, is our Book of Common Prayer, and it contains all the words of our services, our bulletin contains what you need to follow the service to make it easier if you aren’t familiar with an Episcopal worship service.
There may be a Choir or a smaller group of singers at the service to help lead the songs, and we welcome you to join in, no matter what kind of voice you have. We think God probably doesn’t care if you can carry a tune, as long as you are singing with your heart.
Episcopalians are known for sitting, standing, kneeling, and even some “wandering around” during services. You may follow along or just sit and observe. Basically, we stand to sing, sit to learn, and kneel to pray. Also, you will notice that some of us bow when the cross passes, or genuflect, or cross ourselves at certain times during the service. These are signs of respect and reverence to God and Jesus Christ. These practices vary greatly among our parishioners; you will not stick out if you do not make any of these gestures, as not everyone does.
You will hear Old Testament and New Testament readings, read by a church member who comes forward to the lectern. In between readings there will be a Psalm, usually read together by the entire congregation, and another hymn. For the Gospel reading, the priest will proceed to the middle of the church. The congregation will turn to face the Gospel book, as a sign of respect, everyone who is able to, should stand during the reading of the Gospel.
Next will be a sermon offered by the priest. Following that, we stand to recite the Nicene Creed, an ancient statement of the basic beliefs shared by most Christian denominations. Join in or read along silently, or just listen. Then we share in the “Prayers of the People” which vary depending on the church season, or if the Prayers have been written by our youth. You may hear people offer up names of folks they are asking prayers for.
As we read aloud our prayer of confession, many people will kneel. You may remain seated or stand if it is more comfortable. Next the priest will proclaim God’s forgiveness of sins, and a heartfelt “May the Peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which we respond, “And also with you!”
Now here is where the “wandering around” part comes in. You may join in or just observe what we call “the Peace,” a time to shake hands with a neighbor, and to greet those with whom you are worshiping, by simply saying to them “Peace”. Some people will leave the pew to exchange the Peace with others. Soon everyone is back in their seats.
After the Peace, the service transitions to Holy Communion. This is bread and wine, which Episcopalians believe become the body and blood of our savior Jesus Christ, after they are consecrated or blessed. You will see the priest preparing the altar for communion, assisted by the Acolytes and another person in white robes who serves as a Eucharistic Minister.
During this time an offering will be collected. The Greeters will pass through the church with an offering plate. Folks will put into it cash, checks, or pledge envelopes. You may put your filled out visitor card in the plate. Do not feel any pressure to give, but you are welcome to give if you choose and we will appreciate your offering. The Greeter will go down each aisle with the collection plates. When they return to the altar everyone stands and sings a short hymn, the Doxology.
We are now ready for Communion. At Epiphany, all are welcome, no matter their denomination, to take Communion. The Greeters will come by the pews, from front to back to invite you to go forward to the altar rail. Most people kneel at the altar rail, but you may stand if you desire. The priest will place a wafer in your open hands. If you have a dietary restriction that requires you to avoid gluten, please tell the priest when she reaches you, and she will give you a gluten-free wafer. You may eat the wafer immediately, or leave it in your hands until the chalice of wine comes to you. The Eucharistic Minister will follow the priest and offer you the chalice to drink the wine. You may guide the chalice to your lips and tip it to sip from it, or if you have not yet eaten your wafer, dip it into the wine and consume it, a practice called intinction. If you wish to receive a blessing, instead of Communion, simply cross your arms over your chest. If you do not wish to come to the altar rail for Communion or a blessing, you may stay in your seat; no one will think it strange or judge you.
Once everyone has received Communion, we then say the post-Communion prayer together, some kneel, some sit, either is okay. Then the priest will invite anyone that would like a blessing for a birthday, anniversary, and thanksgiving/personal prayer request, to raise their hand. The blessings are often followed by applause from folks. We then share our announcements from the bulletin insert. This will give you an idea of what is happening in our parish.
We finish with a final blessing from the priest, and sing another hymn as the priest and the altar party recess to the back of the church. And a final dismissal from the priest and out the door we go!
If you would like, we welcome you to follow the group, and join us in the parish hall for fellowship with coffee and goodies. We hope to see you soon!