Visiting a new church can be intimidating. But don’t worry, you will be welcome at St. Paul’s. In case you’re wondering what the service will be like, here’s an overview of what to expect.
When You Arrive
An usher or greeter will welcome you at the door and give you a program outlining the service.
On the program you will see page numbers for hymns and the notation “BCP” for other parts of the service. The hymns will be found in blue hymnals found in the rack behind each pew. “BCP” stands for Book of Common Prayer which is the red book next to the hymnal. We will be reading and singing from these books throughout the service. You can join in or just listen and watch – however you feel comfortable.
The music before the service, called the Prelude, helps us gather ourselves and prepare. There will be a procession of liturgical ministers during the first hymn followed by a prayer called a Collect.
The Liturgy of the Word
Each week we read from the Old Testament, Psalms and the New Testament. This is followed by a reading from the Gospels. That reading gets “special treatment.” Normally a song welcoming the Gospel is sung and the Gospel book is brought into the middle of the assembly and read by either a deacon or a priest.
The sermon following the Gospel is meant to take what we have heard in the readings and relate it to our lives.
After the sermon we say the Nicene Creed, an ancient statement of our faith. We then pray the Prayers of the People.
A collection of money is taken at this point. Our offerings symbolize both our bringing of ourselves to worship and our support of the life of the community. If you want to make an offering, that’s fine.
The bread and wine we will use for communion and the money that has been collected are brought to the Altar Table and the liturgical ministers set the Table for Communion.
The presider then praises God for His action in our lives. The prayer continues with a retelling of the story of the Last Supper and the presider asking the Holy Spirit to come into the bread and wine and into us.
At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer everyone prays the Lord’s Prayer. Then the presider breaks a piece of the bread, symbolizing Christ’s body being broken for us. Once the bread and wine are ready the presider invites people to the meal.
People generally come forward and stand or kneel at the altar to receive communion or other places that communion is distributed. The official policy of the Episcopal Church is that all baptized people may receive communion.
If you don’t want to receive communion that is totally fine. You can remain in your seat, or you can also come forward and cross your arms over your chest. The priest will offer you a blessing instead of communion.
If you do want to receive, hold out your hands and the priest will put a piece of bread in your hand. Then another liturgical minister will come with the cup of wine. It is also acceptable to receive only the bread or only the wine; either is considered a full receiving of communion.
After everyone has received communion we all stand and say a prayer.
During the announcements you will hear what is going on in the parish. There will be activities and opportunities for service. You are welcome to participate in these activities. If you have questions about any of the announcements, just ask the priest or deacon as you leave.
At the conclusion of the service the priest asks God to bless us. Another song is sung and the liturgical ministers process out. At the very end we are dismissed and sent out into the world.
Happy You Were Here
We would love to get to know you so please sign our guest book on the way out. If you have any questions or concerns, just let us know. We are here to welcome you.