Notes on Episcopal Worship
Although our worship is structured, there are no hard and fast rules for individual responses. The brief outline below may enhance your understanding, but it is not necessary to read it in order to participate fully in and be nourished by this service.
During the opening hymn, the altar party (priest, cross bearer and torch bearers) proceeds up the aisle as the congregation stands to sing the first hymn. The cross is the symbol of Jesus as the head of the church. The torches represent the light of Christ which illumines the world.
When it is time for the Gospel to be read, the altar party comes forward into the center of the church, symbolizing the Good News of Christ going out into the world. We stand to listen, signifying the importance of Christ’s Gospel to the people of Christ’s church. We also stand when we recite the Creed, because it is the historical statement of the Christian faith.
Following the Creed, we offer our prayers to God for our needs and the needs of others. We confess our shared brokenness and hear the promise of God’s forgiveness. At the words of Peace, it is customary to turn to others near you and shake hands, saying “Peace be with you.”
At communion, all are welcome at Christ’s table either to receive the bread and wine or to receive a blessing. (You may, of course, remain in your pew.) It is appropriate either to stand or kneel at the rail, and cup your hands to receive the bread. As you drink from the cup, you may steady it with your hand. If you elect not to partake of the wine, cross your arms across your chest when the cup is offered. If you would prefer a blessing, cross your arms over your chest at the rail, and the priest will touch your head and offer a brief prayer.
At the conclusion of the service, we go out into the world with a blessing to be instruments of God’s love and reconciliation.