FAQs on Worship at St. Francis'
What should I expect the first time I visit St. Francis'?
We are a liturgical church, which means that there is a pattern to our worship. Those coming from Episcopal, Roman Catholic or Orthodox backgrounds will recognize it as the Holy Eucharist, the Mass or Divine Liturgy. Those who come from Protestant backgrounds may find the structured patterns of our worship strange at first, but often come to love them. The patterned rhythm of liturgical worship provides an anchor of stability and familiarity. Liturgical worship is like a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.
You’ll notice that we move around a bit in our liturgy. We stand; we sit; we kneel; we walk; we move around to greet one another. The traditional guidelines are “stand to sing,” “sit to listen,” “kneel to pray” – but sometimes, we stand to pray, too! You’ll often notice some people standing while others kneel or sit. It really depends on what helps you to pray or to be engaged most intentionally and prayerfully with the community in worship. Try to find the joy in this freedom and not be too distracted by what others do.
Our service is printed out in its entirety in our Sunday bulletin each week, so you don’t need to worry about following along. The only books required are the two hymnals found in the pews – The Hymnal 1982 and Lift Every Voice and Sing, a hymnal in the African-American tradition of church music. We hope you’ll join in the many congregational arts of the service, spoken or sung. Our communal worship will be enriched by your participation!
What is the shape of our worship?
The Holy Eucharist is the principal act of worship in the Episcopal Church. There are diverse worship styles in our tradition, but the Eucharist always has the same basic elements and the same shape.
The Gathering of the People of God
The Liturgy of the Word -- focused on Scripture
The Liturgy of the Table -- focused on Communion
Our services are based on the Book of Common Prayer used by Episcopal Churches throughout the USA and close to what is used in Episcopal/Anglican churches throughout the world. You can learn more about the shape of our worship here.
May I receive Communion at St. Francis'?
Episcopalians invite all baptized people to share in Communion and we don’t check (or care about!) denominational credentials. We’ve noticed that Jesus welcomed everyone whenever there was a meal, even when the religious authorities questioned him about that, and we think he would want us to do the same. So whether your background is Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, we invite you to share in the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, hoping that this might be God’s way of drawing you more deeply into relationship.
We invite all the Baptized to receive Communion, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take Baptism so seriously. Holy Communion is the sacrament in which our Baptism is renewed and so it is important for baptized Christians to receive the sacrament regularly as a part of that continuing renewal in their life in Christ.
If you have not been baptized, you are warmly invited to come to the Communion rail with arms crossed over your chest to receive a blessing. We hope your experience here may inspire you to want to know more about how to be more fully incorporated into Christ’s body, the Church, through baptism.
Are children welcome in church?
Yes. Children are always welcome in church, and like their elders, baptized children of all ages from infants on up are encouraged to receive Communion. Children are often most attentive and engaged when they sit up front where they can actually see and hear things better – and where there are fewer distractions from all those big people sitting in front of them!
Sometimes, however, parents of young children need a break. If that’s the case with you, we have a nursery off the Narthex staffed every Sunday by responsible child care providers. Our Sunday School for children ages 3 and up is held in two well-appointed rooms in the undercroft. An usher can direct you to the Nursery or Sunday School.
When are Sunday services?
From early September through mid-June, we offer two celebrations of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday, at 8 and 10 AM. Both use what The Book of Common Prayer calls Rite II: the contemporary language version of the Eucharist. The 8 AM service is the smaller congregation (typically 15-20 people) and the service is spoken. The 10 AM service, attended by 50 or more people, includes organ, congregational singing of hymns and service music, and anthems by our choir. The same sermon is preached at both services. Prayers for healing and blessings for celebrations in people’s lives are offered by the priest before both Sunday Eucharists. We share good food and fellowship at the coffee hour following the 10 AM service.
During the summer, we offer one Sunday celebration of the Holy Eucharist at 9:00 AM.
What other services happen through the year?
We observe the seasons of the Church calendar with special services, including include Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday and the liturgies of Holy Week. During Lent, our Thursday evening adult formation program often ends with Compline, the short nighttime service from The Book of Common Prayer.
Who makes worship happen?
Our worship is communal, which means we all make worship happen. Within that communal framework, there are particular roles. A Priest presides at (leads) the service; an ordained Deacon reads the Gospel, bids prayer and confession, prepares the Altar for Communion, and sends the congregation out to “love and serve the Lord” at the end of the service.
These clergy are assisted by many members of the congregation including the Altar Guild, acolytes, chalice bearers, readers of Scripture, and choir members. Ushers are available to help with seating and to answer questions. Young people are encouraged to join in any volunteer worship opportunities and many serve as acolytes.
Where can I learn more about the worship of the Episcopal Church?
Visit our links page for more information.