We are a liturgical church. During worship, people participate through
their verbal responses, readings from Holy Scripture, singing of hymns,
offering prayers and by receiving Holy Communion. Worship is corporate
in nature, because the congregation shares in all aspects of the liturgy.
The silence at various intervals provides time for the individual
to think and reflect on his or her personal experience with God.
Practices vary—even among individual Episcopalians—as
to when it is appropriate to sit, to stand or to kneel. Watch the
people sitting around you for clues, and do whatever feels comfortable. The general rule is to stand to sing. Hymns are found in the
blue Hymnal 1982 in the pews, and other service music is
printed in the worship bulletin.
We stand to say our affirmation of faith, the Nicene Creed; and for
the reading of the Gospel. Psalms are sung or said sitting or standing.
We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters,
the sermon, and the choir anthems. We stand or kneel for prayer.
Some Episcopalians make the sign of the cross or bow at particular
times and kneel for prayer upon entering the Nave. Silence is
usually kept before services.
Words to our liturgy are found in The Book of Common Prayer
(BCP). Reviewing the book, one will find both prayers for daily use
and prayers for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
The Book of Common Prayer has evolved over the years. The
first Prayer Book is attributed to Thomas Cranmer, who in 1549, drew
on traditional resources to create services that were prayed in English
for the first time. This collection of prayers and responses provides
the basic structure for the current Prayer Book being used in the
Episcopal Church. The version in use today was last revised
The principal service of The Episcopal Church is the Holy
Eucharist ("Holy Communion"). In some Episcopal
churches it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on Sunday
morning. Weekday celebrations also are frequently without music, and
with a shorter homily instead of a sermon. When celebrated at a later
hour on Sundays, or on other great special holy days such as Christmas,
music and a sermon are customary.
All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion. You may receive either kneeling at the altar rail or at a standing
station on the floor of the Nave. To receive the bread, cup
your hands in front of you. When offered the wine, guide the
cup to your lips. While some parts of the service are always the same, others, like
the readings, change each week.
We hope you will find the services of The
Episcopal Church beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centered,
and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.