What to expect when you visit
Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. Our main service is at 10:30 a.m., but we also have a 5 p.m. service. We alternate on Sunday mornings between The Holy Eucharist and Morning Prayer. So as to be sure there is a Eucharist available every Sunday, it is offered in the evening on the days of Morning Prayer. Our morning worship is accompanied by the singing of hymns and other church music. We have an exceptional organ and two choirs – one for adults and one for children. Our church music is traditional.
Episcopalians worship in many different styles, ranging from very formal, ancient, and multi-sensory rites with singing, music, formal vestments, and incense, to informal services with contemporary music. However, all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer, which gives worship a familiar feel, no matter where you go. All Saints’ Episcopal Church bases its services on the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, allowing for a more traditional style of worship.
Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be liturgical, meaning that the congregation follows a form of service that does not change greatly from week to week. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the congregation.
For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating — or confusing. Services involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. Recognizing how confusing this can be for those who are not familiar with what we are doing, the ushers will distribute a service bulletin as you arrive outlining the order of the service. Liturgical worship can be compared with a dance; once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate and embrace the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again.
This is a service that allows for the reading of Scripture, the singing of hymns, the delivery of a sermon, and confession of sin and absolution. We offer prayers for ourselves, the church, and the world. The service usually lasts one hour.
In spite of the diversity of worship styles in the Episcopal Church, Holy Eucharist always has the same components and the same shape.
We begin by praising God through song and acknowledging his presence with us. We then listen to two readings from the Bible; usually one is from the Epistles, and there is always a reading from the Gospels.
Next we recite the Nicene Creed, which was written in the Fourth Century and is the Episcopal Church’s statement of belief. Following the Creed there is a sermon or a briefer talk, known as a homily.
The priest then lays the table with the bread and the wine, and the congregation prays together. We pray for the world, the church, the sick, and the departed.
Next, we formally confess our sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone. The priest then pronounces absolution, which is the assurance that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the priest tells the story of God’s giving of his son, Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which Jesus instituted the Eucharistic meal — communion — as a continual remembrance of him.
The priest blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the priest breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, who then come forward to share both the consecrated bread and wine.
All baptized Christians — no matter age or denomination — are welcome to receive communion. Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously.
Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the priest.
At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, sings the Gloria, which is an ancient hymn of praise, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the world.
We provide infant care on Sunday mornings during church services, as well as on Wednesday evenings, when adults attend Body and Soul and older children attend religious education classes. Additionally, infant care is available for other special church events. On Sunday mornings, you may take your infants to the Parish Hall before the service and pick them up when church is over.
Children aged three through third grade attend church on Sunday mornings with their parents as the service begins and then have the choice to be led to Children’s Church in the Parish Hall chapel. The children are then escorted back to the church as the service ends so that they can be with their parents to be blessed. Children’s Church is led by parish teenagers.
You do not need to be a formal member of All Saints’ to attend our services. On Communion days, if you are a baptized Christian, you are invited to receive the bread and the wine. If you are not baptized, you may either come forward to receive a blessing or remain in your pew, and we will not feel that you are any less a part of the fellowship.
Boys and girls who have grown up in the Episcopal Church are normally confirmed while in the sixth grade. Those who have not grown up in the Episcopal Church may choose as adults to be confirmed. However, those who have made what is called an “adult profession of faith,” as well as those who have been previously confirmed in another church, are instead formally received. If you have been a member of another church and have a letter of membership, you may ask that your letter be transferred to All Saints’.