At the celebration of the Eucharist, or Mass, we pray, sing, explore the Bible, and partake in Holy Communion. However spiritual or religious you consider yourself to be (or not to be), you are always welcome to join us.
What should you expect if you decide to join us for Eucharist?
If you are wondering what to expect if you attend our parish, we are glad you are considering a visit. Below you can read a little more about what we do when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.
For those who have attended services at a parish of another member of the Anglican Communion or even a parish which is part of the Roman Catholic Church, the general shape of things should be familiar in an Episcopal service. The same is often true for some but not all Protestant denominations. Or maybe your experiences with liturgy and worship have been different, or you have little experience with Christian services of any kind. Even among Episcopal Churches there is a degree of variation, so read on.
All Are Welcome
One of the most important thing to know is that everyone is welcome at Christ Church, whatever your religious affiliation or experience and whatever your past or your current circumstances in life. We welcome everyone. No matter what you look like, or what you've done, or who you think you are. We believe you have something precious to share with us just by your very presence.
We read about and celebrate the lives of people who were con artists and street hustlers, who were vain socialites, who had anger management issues, who disappointed their loved ones with self-destructive behavior, who stole from the poor, who were murderers, and who cursed God -- and they were also major prophets, apostles, witnesses, martyrs and saints! Who knows what you may be called to be?
The Order of Service
You don't have to know the service to attend.
When you come you will be offered a bulletin with an outline of the service. Inside the bulletin is an insert which has the Collect (a prayer given by the celebrant, who is typically a priest) and the scriptural readings of the day such as passages from the Gospels and the Psalms.
Along with appropriate hymns and other elements such as the recitation of the Nicene Creed and a sermon, these prayers and readings make up the first half of the service, which concludes with offering the sign of Peace. You will typically see many handshakes and a hug or two at this point.
The service continues with offerings, praise and prayer, and culminates in the sacrament of Communion, which is open to all baptized Christians, not just Anglicans or Episcopalians. Those not taking Communion may still choose come forward and cross their arms at the altar rail to receive a blessing. No one is excluded. And if you aren't comfortable going up to the altar, no one will mind if you stay seated and simply observe the proceedings.
Don't worry if you get lost following along in the order of service. In fact, it can help just to quietly observe the service for the first visit or two. If you do want to give it a go your first time, just take your cues from the people around you and don't sweat it if you get off track now and again. Don't let such concerns distract you from the larger experience.
A copy of the Book of Common Prayer (or BCP) will be available on a shelf on the back of the pew in front of you, along with a hymnal. The section on the Eucharist in the BCP gives the outline for the celebration of the Eucharist in all Episcopal parishes, so you get can a more detailed sense of the service by looking throught it if you so desire. The Episcopal Church website also offers a brief guide.
We hope to see you soon!