Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect when I visit an Episcopal church?
As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. It is the custom of the Episcopal Church that before worship and during Communion silence is maintained in Church for the love of God and for our neighbor, this being a time of prayer. Episcopal churches are built in many architectural styles; but whether the church be small or large, elaborate or plain, your eye is carried to the altar, or holy table, and to the cross. So our thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is. On or near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12). Often there are flowers, to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus. On one side at the front of the church, there may be a lectern-pulpit, or stand, for the proclamation of the Word; here the Scriptures are read and the sermon is preached.
How can I find my way through the service?
The Episcopal Church uses the Book of Common Prayer, 1979, for its worship. It contains the service of Holy Communion as well as the offices of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer; the Pastoral offices and other services that we use. The Book of Common Prayer is the red book in the pew rack. In addition, we have a Hymnal, 1982, which is the blue book in the pew rack. The Order of Worship is found in the Bulletin you receive as you enter the church. It contains page numbers where the various parts of the service may be found. For the most part, the hymn numbers may be found on our hymn board found on the wall at the front of the church. Occasionally, the priest or lay reader will announce a page number. Furthermore, the person who is sitting next to you or in front of you will gladly assist you. Generally, we stand to sing hymns, to sing or say the Gloria in Excelsis, to hear the gospel, to praise God at the time of the Offertory and for the beginning of the Eucharist. We sit to listen to the lessons, the sermon, and the announcements; and we stand or kneel to pray the Collects, the Prayers of the People, the Consecration, and the post-communion prayer.
May I take communion?
All baptized persons, regardless of Christian denomination, are welcome to receive Holy Communion in the Episcopal Church. Confirmation is not a requirement for receiving Communion. When you stand or kneel at the altar rail, you will be given a wafer of consecrated bread and a sip of consecrated wine from the common chalice. You may also choose to dip your bread in the chalice (intinction), or to receive the bread alone. We believe Christ is fully present in both of the elements. If you do not wish to receive Communion, you may come to the altar rail to receive a Blessing from the Celebrant. Please indicate this by folding your arms across your chest.
How do I receive Communion?
The usual way to receive the bread is to place your right hand in your left, and to extend your open palms toward the Celebrant. To receive the wine from the chalice, it is helpful if you guide the chalice from the base of it to your lips. It you prefer to intinct (to have the wafer dipped into the wine), you may do so by holding the wafer in your fingers and dipping it yourself or by handing it to the chalice bearer to dip into the wine. You may choose not to receive the wine.
What about children receiving Communion?
All baptized persons of any age are welcome to the Lord’s Table. Young children are encouraged to come to the altar rail with their parents. Parents are best qualified to determine if their child is ready to receive the sacrament. Many parents allow their small children to receive the bread only. When the children are older, they allow them to have the bread that has been dipped in the chalice. Those children who do not receive Communion will receive a Blessing. Some persons believe that one should have children wait to receive until they can understand Holy Communion. However, we do not wait until our children can understand the sacrament before they receive it. As loving parents, we feed our children long before they understand nurturing. We bathe them before they have a concept of hygiene, and we love and hug them long before they have an understanding of love. We all come to the Lord’s Table to be fed and nurtured by a loving God.
How do I become a member of the Church?
Anyone who has been baptized in any branch of the Christian Church and desires to be a member of St. Andrew’s is accepted as a member. If you wish to become a recorded member, you should ask the Parish Administrator to add your name and the names of your family to the Register of Baptized Persons. A copy of your baptismal certificate is all that is necessary; however, if that is not available, then dates and places are needed. To become a Communicant Member, you must:
- Transfer your letter from your former Episcopal parish where you were registered as a Communicant. To do this you may write or call the Registrar or Secretary of your former parish requesting that they send your letter to St. Andrew’s.
- You may attend the Inquirers’ Classes and then request to be Confirmed by the bishop at his/her next Visitation date.
- You may be Received by the bishop from another denomination where you were confirmed and made an adult affirmation of your baptismal vows. (i.e. Roman Catholic, Lutheran)
What do you call the clergy?
Our priest prefers to be called Jane or Mother Jane. For those who are uncomfortable using a first name, Mother Clark or Reverend Clark is acceptable. The correct way to address a letter to a priest or deacon is to use the title, “The Reverend.” If the person has a doctorate you would address him/her as “The Reverend. Dr.” If the priest is a dean of a deanery, he/she is addressed as “The Very Reverend.” “Reverend” may be abbreviated. Further questions may be addressed to the clergy after the services. We are delighted to have you worship with us and hope that you find St. Andrew’s a place you would like to call home.