What to Expect
Welcome to All Souls’ Episcopal Church! If you have never attended an Anglican or Episcopal Church service, the introduction below will give you some interesting history and general information about the church proper and our worship service. Thank you for taking a few minutes to learn more about our church. We think you will find the services of the Anglican Church beautiful in their ordered dignity and God-centered focus. Please join us this Sunday. If you have children and have questions about the nursery or Sunday School, please go to the Sunday School tab on the front page of the website or email Alicia Fay, Coordinator for Children’s Education and Nursery, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Place of Worship
When you enter the church you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Anglican churches are built in many architectural styles; but whether the church is small or large, elaborate or plain, your eye is carried to the Altar or Holy Table and to the cross. Our thoughts are taken at once to our Lord Jesus .
The candles on or near the altar remind us that Christ is the “Light of the world”. (John 8:12) The flowers on the altar are there to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
At the front of the church, there are two lecterns. The one on the right (Epistle side) is for the reading of the scriptures and the other (Gospel side) is for the reading of the Gospel and sermon.
The Act of Worship
Anglican services are congregational. You will find the 1928 and 1979 Books of Common Prayer and a Hymnal in the pews. The All Souls’ Parish Missal contains the services from both the 1928 and 1979 services. The Book of Common Prayer enables the congregation to share fully in every service.
Episcopalians are known for their “calisthenics” during the service. Knowing when to kneel, stand or sit can be confusing at first. You can follow what your neighbor is doing or follow the directions in the Missal. A helpful rule of thumb for Anglican worship is “stand to praise, sit to learn, kneel to pray.” You are welcome to remain seated if you are unable or prefer not to kneel.
Holy Communion is the principal service in Anglican churches. Early morning and weekday Holy Communion services are celebrated simply, without music. Additional Sunday services are celebrated with a full choir and sermon.
Before and after Holy Communion
Is is customary to kneel in one’s pew before the service begins for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. In many churches it is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ.
Ushers are available at most weekend service to greet you and answer any questions that you might have before a service. They will also provide large print versions of the Parish Missal upon request. Following the service a priest will greet the congregation as they leave.
The clergy and other ministers wear vestments to add to the beauty and festivity of the services and to signify their special ministries. Choir vestments usually consist of an undergown called a cassock (usually black) and white overgown called a surplice. The clergy may also wear cassock and surplice.
Another familiar vestment is the alb, a white tunic with sleeves that cover the body from neck to ankles. Over it (or over the surplice) ordained ministers wear a stole, a narrow band of colored fabric. Deacons wear the stole over one shoulder, priests and bishops over both shoulders.
At the Holy Eucharist a bishop or priest frequently wears a chasuble (a circular garment that envelopes the body) over the alb and stole. The deacon’s corresponding vestment has sleeves and is called a dalmatic. Bishops sometimes wear a special head covering called a mitre.
Stoles, chasubles and dalmatics as well as altar coverings, are usually made of rich fabrics. Their color changes with the seasons and holy days of the Church Year. The most frequently used colors are white, red, violet and green.
The Church Year
The Anglican Church observes the traditional Christian calendar. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for Christmas, begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. Christmas begins on December 25th and lasts twelve days after which we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany (January 6).
Lent, the forty days of preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. Easter season lasts fifty days concluding on the feast of Pentecost.
During these times, the Bible readings are chosen for their appropriateness to the season. During the rest of the year – the season after Epiphany and the long season after Pentecost (except for a few special Sundays) the New Testament is read sequentially from Sunday to Sunday
When you visit an Anglican church, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way or asked to stand before the congregation or to come forward. You will worship God with us.
Should you wish to know more about the Anglican Church or how one becomes an Anglican, the priest will gladly answer your questions and suggest the way to membership.