If you have never been to an Episcopal Church before, chances are good that at first, you may feel rather confused and even lost when you worship with us. Here are a few things you might see:
- People kneeling here, kneeling there, kneeling everywhere….or not.
- People reading out of this book, singing out of that book…or this other book…or not.
- People crossing themselves on their forehead, on their lips, on their chest…or not.
- People bowing their heads here, bowing their bodies there, genuflecting everywhere…or not.
- Incense…or not…bells…or not… colorful robes…or not.
- Chanting…or not…wafers…or not…bread…or not.
- Coffee hour…ALWAYS!!!
So, what’s up? It may feel like an organized mess – orderly in the overall flow of the service, but unorganized in individual worship styles. Why is this?
The Episcopal Church is a liturgical church, which means we follow a certain liturgy or form of worship. The principal liturgy of our church is The Holy Eucharist, a liturgy of Word and Sacrament in which we read from the Bible (Word) and share a meal of bread and wine, which we believe to be Christ’s presence among us (Sacrament). This form can be traced back to ancient times and provides a sense of order and beauty.
However, 70% of Episcopalians were raised in another tradition, usually either Catholic or Protestant. Thus, there is no one way to worship correctly in an Episcopal Church. People worship in ways that are comfortable to them (this explains the “mess” in organized mess), which is fine because Episcopalians are proud of their reputation for accepting people where they are, for their openness, and for not being given to extremes.
So when you worship with us, while you may feel a little lost or unsure of yourself, please don‘t feel self-conscious. We will be glad you are here, and likely, someone will offer to guide you through the maze of worship books, gestures, and music that is our worship. But in the end, we are certain you will be as taken with the beauty, mystery, and majesty of our worship as we are every time we gather. It is one of the main reasons we are Episcopalians!