What to Expect
When you walk into St. Paul’s for the first time, we want you to feel welcome and experience worship that allows you to explore and expand your relationship with God. Please make yourself at home and don’t hesitate to ask a member of the clergy or a parishioner if you have questions about our church. You may sit anywhere you like in the church. We hope you spend some time enjoying the beautiful historic building and our lovely stained glass windows before and after the service.
Our liturgies follow the Book of Common Prayer. The first version of this book was written in England in 1549; the one we use today is quite different, and was last updated in 1979. In a typical Sunday Holy Eucharist, the service is divided into two parts. It begins with the traditional acclamation of the blessing of God from the doors into the church. The celebrant (the priest in charge of the liturgy) says “Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” The congregation responds by saying “And blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever. Amen.” This opening acclamation changes during special times of the church year, like at Easter. After the acclamation, the choir, servers, and clergy process down the center aisle to the chancel, or the front part of the church, as the congregation sings a hymn. The liturgy then follows with readings from the Old Testament, a Psalm, an Epistle (letter) from the New Testament, and with a reading from one of the Gospels (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). A sermon is given by the priest, and then we recite the Nicene Creed and offer prayers. After the prayers, we confess our sins, and the priest pronounces God’s forgiveness and absolution; then we “pass the Peace” and greet our fellow worshipers with the Peace of God.
Between the first and second portions of the liturgy, announcements are made. The second part of the liturgy is the communion, and begins with the offering. Then the liturgy for the Eucharist is read, bread and wine are blessed and broken, and the congregation comes to the altar to take communion. If you are unable to come to the altar, tell an usher and they will have communion brought to you in the pews. It is the practice of The Episcopal Church to invite all baptized Christians, not only Episcopalians, to join us at the altar rail. The priest will place the bread in your hands. You can receive the wine in two ways: by dipping your bread into a small “intinction cup,” or by drinking from the chalice. If you do not wish to take communion, you are most welcome to come to the altar rail, cross your arms in front of your chest, and receive a blessing from the priest. The service ends with prayer, a blessing, and a congregational hymn.
Parents with Children
Going to religious services with children can be intimidating, and parents may wonder at what age children should be encouraged to stay with their family for the worship service. At St. Paul’s children participate in the worship service by singing each Sunday in the Children’s Choir, serving as Acolytes, and carrying the food pantry alms basket forward during the offertory. Children are most welcome at this church.
For families desiring to sit together through worship, you may pick up a worship activity pack in the narthex (this is the entry area of the church, before you enter the nave, the main part of the church where you sit during services). Younger children may be dropped off in the nursery, and picked up from the nursery during the passing of the peace, if you would like them present for Holy Eucharist.