What to Expect
At St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, you will find a wide variety of loving, caring people, who are happy to welcome you and introduce you to our way of being the Church.
We usually have ample parking. Our parking lot has dozens of spaces on the south side (facing I-40), and our parking lot goes the length of all three of our buildings on Georgia Street. You may park in any of these. Just note that if you park toward the I-40 side on a Sunday morning, you will walk a little farther - our Nave (the "Sanctuary" where we worship) is on the North side of the block. Additionally, the school parking lot across 16th Street is also available for overflow parking.
What you wear is entirely up to you. Some people choose to dress more formally (suits, jackets and ties, dresses). Some come in jeans. You will see that how people dress, in general, also takes on a different flavor depending on the time of the service. For example, at our Sunday 8:00 AM Holy Eucharist Rite I service, probably the majority seem to dress a bit more formally. Then at the Sunday 10:30 AM Holy Eucharist Rite II Service, some dress formally, some come in jeans, and the majority are somewhere in the middle.
I expect in worship?
If you are coming to one of our Sunday morning services, when you enter into the Nave, one of the first things at St. Andrew's you will notice is that there is a lot activity going on. Often several people are standing around visiting back behind the pews. Some are moving on to find their seats. If it is before the 10:30 service, the Choir is standing back there as well. This might seem a bit intimidating. Don't worry! What you will also see is an usher coming to you to hand you a pew sheet. You might tell the usher that this is your first time here. He or she can then give you a little guidance about where to sit and answer any other questions you might have. But even if you don't mention anything to the usher, feel free to sit anywhere you like. There are no assigned seats!
Once worship begins, following the service will look a little different depending on which service you attend:
At 8:00, you will notice in the pew holders two books--a red one and a blue one. We use both of them extensively in our worship services. The red book is The Book of Common Prayer. The blue book is the Hymnal 1982. In your pew sheet, page numbers for both of these books are indicated on the second page. When you are to use the Book of Common Prayer, the pew sheet has the page number as "BCP 355". Similarly, for a hymn, the name of the hymn is printed in the pew sheet, with the page number as "Hymnal 641".
At 10:30, all of our liturgy is printed in the pew sheet starting on page 3. So you will only need to use the blue Hymnal for the singing portions of the service. Everything else is printed for you, but feel free to ask people around you if you get lost.
You may ask, "Where is the Bible?" All services include scripture readings from the Bible. We follow the Revised Common Lectionary (a three-year cycle of scripture readings in which we cover most of the Bible in that period). We read, aloud a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospel, at every service. These sections of scripture are printed in the pew sheet for the congregation to read along and to take home with them.
At first, following along with the Episcopal Service may be a little difficult; but remember, most services follow the same order, so once you've been through it a few times, it will feel natural. If you get lost, don't hesitate to ask someone where we are!
Is there a more "low-key" service I can try?
Sure! A great way to try out one of our services is to watch one of our livestreams - you can get a taste of what our most "high-key" worship service looks like from the comfort of your couch.
Alternatively, on Wednesday nights at 5:30, we have Holy Eucharist Rite II, with Holy Unction (which means "Healing"). This is a particularly well-loved (but low-key) service. The people gather (around twenty or so) in the Children's Chapel in Lowndes Hall. Most have come from work, but some from home--how people are dressed at this service is a real mix! We listen to scriptures and a short homily focused on the saint of the day. Then we have a time for anointing with oil and healing for all who want to come forward to the altar for that purpose. Next we have our regular Holy Eucharist (communion). The entire service lasts about forty minutes.
I've heard that Episcopalians stand, kneel, sit, and cross themselves a lot.
When do I do this? DO I have to do this?!?
In our service, we have several places where we follow what are known as the rubrics (directions) of the Book of Common Prayer, that tell us to either stand or sit or kneel. In general, we stand when we sing, give praise to God, or read the Gospel; we sit during all other Bible readings, and during the Sermon; and we kneel or stand to pray. During the blessing of the bread and wine at communion (The Eucharistic Prayer), either standing or kneeling is appropriate.
In addition, there are several "ceremonial" actions that many Episcopalians (but not all) find to be powerful spiritually. For example, you may notice that many will touch the water in our baptismal font (near the entrance to our worship space), and then make the sign of the cross (this action is to "remember your baptism" upon entering or leaving the place of worship). Or, perhaps, you might see many either bow or genuflect (touch their knee to the ground) toward the altar cross as they enter or leave the pew. You might see many bow their heads as the processional cross passes by them. You might see people cross themselves during the proclamation of the Gospel or when the priest proclaims absolution after the confession or during the blessing at the end of the service. Each of these gestures is a way of "praying with the body." But each of them is also a personal choice and is not required of everyone.
All of these actions can seem daunting to someone new to this type of worship. But again, if you are not sure, just come and participate as you can. Let the flow of the liturgy (the words and the prayers) wash over you, and simply be in the presence of the holy along with the rest of those around you. When you are ready, if you want, you can follow the example of the people around you. And, of course, if you are unable to stand or kneel for long periods of time, please feel free to remain seated. No one is looking around at others to judge how much or how little they are participating in the actions of the worship.Back to Top
Is Holy Eucharist the same thing as Communion? Am I allowed to take Communion?
Yes, the central rite of the Episcopal Church is the Service of Holy Eucharist (also known as "Communion," or "The Lord's Supper"). Because it is analogous to the Roman Catholic Mass it is also often referred to as "Mass" by some Episcopalians. The first part of the service ("The Liturgy of the Word") consists of prayers, scripture readings, and a (short) sermon. This is followed an Affirmation of Faith (The Nicene Creed), the Prayers of the People, Confession of Sin, Absolution, and the Exchange of Peace (where we all greet the person near us in the pew sharing God's peace). The second part of the service ("The Liturgy of the Eucharist") begins with the offerings of the congregation, then proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer, the Lord's Prayer, Consecration of the Elements (bread and wine), Communion, the Post-Communion Prayer, Blessing, and Dismissal.
All baptized Christians, including children, regardless of when or where you were baptized, are welcome to come forward to receive the Holy Communion. We do use real bread as well as wafers. In addition, we have real wine in a single, shared chalice. For those who do not wish to drink from the common chalice, you may either take a wafer and have the chalice bearer "intinct" (dip it) in the wine for you, or you may cross your arms across your chest and the chalice bearer will pass by you. In addition, if you have need of a gluten-free wafer, simply tell the priest when you come to the rail.
If you are not baptized, we welcome you to come forward to receive a blessing as part of the Holy Eucharist. Simply come to the rail, and cross your arms across your chest to indicate your desire to receive a prayer for God's blessing. We would also love to talk to you about baptism!
How about kids?
Are children allowed in the service? Is there a special service for them?
At St. Andrew's we love to have children in all that we do. We usually have kids in all of our services. But the most popular service for kids seems to be the Sunday 10:30 AM Holy Eucharist. At all services we do have a nursery available for all children age five and under. The nursery is located in Lowndes Hall, the building on the south side of our campus. Parents must sign in their children, and receive a pager, so that nursery workers can summon them from the service if needed.
Also at the 10:30 service, we have a children's chapel for children through the 3rd grade. They all gather in our children's chapel in Lowndes Hall at about 10:20. Adult volunteers and some older children volunteers teach them songs and prayers for half an hour. Then these children march in procession over to the nave to join their parents just after the sermon.
In all Sunday services, we have a children's blessing. The children come forward toward the altar. The congregation then reads together the words of the blessing as the priests mark the sign of the cross on each child's forehead. Every Sunday, the children love to come forward for this blessing as they hear about how God loves them and how this congregation supports them in faith and love.
Another place you will notice children in our worship is in their service as acolytes. We delight in having children be part of our liturgy in this way.