you are welcome in god's house.
It can feel intimidating to enter a church you’re not familiar with. But if you choose to join us, you will be our respected and welcome guest, and we hope you will feel as comfortable in our house as you would in that of a valued friend. Please don’t hesitate to ask our greeters at the door if you have any questions, or need somebody to help you manage the Prayer Book and Hymnals during the service. We hope, as well, that the information below will give you a better understanding of the way we worship, and help you feel more at home when you join us.
The Place of Worship
The architecture of St. George’s, as of all Episcopal Churches, carries your eye to the altar and then to the cross, taking our thoughts at once to Christ whom we hope to encounter, and to God, whose house this is. On and alongside the altar are candles to remind us that Christ is the "Light of the world." [John 8:11] The outer candles are lit for the first part of the service to symbolize the illumination of the word of God we hear through scripture, preaching and prayer, but the candles on the altar are not lit until the consecration of the bread and wine itself begins, symbolizing the presence of Jesus Christ. To the right of the altar is the ambo, which is used for the reading of scripture from the Bible and where the preacher – most often the rector, but sometimes a seminarian or a lay person – preaches the sermon.
The central service of worship at St. George’s is the Holy Eucharist, the remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection made concrete in the bread and wine. We begin by listening to scripture and reflecting on its meaning for life, and then move through prayer, confession and forgiveness to becoming the family of God gathered around the table of God, living ever so briefly the life of heaven before we return again to the world, hopefully transformed and renewed to live life differently. The form of Eucharist we celebrate at the 10:30 a.m. service utilizes contemporary language, but the 8 a.m. service each Sunday is conducted in traditional language dating back to the original Anglican prayer book of the 16th century. (Click here for St. George's weekly service schedule.)
The Act of Worship
Episcopal worship services are congregational. In the pews, you will find the Book of Common Prayer which enables the congregation to share fully in every service. In addition, you will also find in the pews a copy of the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 and a supplemental music book called Gather. Worship leaders will make every effort to announce page numbers and hymn numbers. The service bulletin also contains most of the words and music said and sung during the service.
You may wonder when to stand, sit, or kneel. The general rule is those who are able stand to sing, to affirm our faith in the Creed, and to hear the reading of the Gospel. During prayer, either standing or kneeling is appropriate. We sit during readings from the Bible, the sermon, the announcements, and the choir anthems.
The book of common Prayer
All worship at St. George’s is drawn from the Book of Common Prayer. Sometimes, people wonder at the wisdom of this approach — it seems like rote repetition to them. Yet such an approach can be freeing. Because we are thoroughly familiar with the words, we are freed spiritually to go where the words take us — perhaps a place of penitence for our sins, of deep searching for God in prayer, or of joy in the incredibly generous gift of Christ’s life for us. Like icons and sacraments, the Prayer Book is a window into another world — God’s world — through which we see our own world and lives differently. It may take some time to get used to, but once the Prayer Book becomes familiar it is a springboard, not a brick wall. Current and historical versions of the Prayer Book are available online.
To add to the beauty and festivity of the services, and to signify special ministries, the clergy and other ministers wear vestments. Laity who have roles as worship leaders will often wear either a white muslin gown called an alb, or a black undergown called a cassock combined with a white overgown called a surplice. The priest wears an alb as well — a white tunic with sleeves that covers the body from neck to ankles. Over it, the priest wears a stole, a narrow band of colored fabric in the color of the season of the church year. During the Eucharistic Prayer and serving of Communion, the priest who presides at the altar wears a chasuble (a circular garments that envelops the body) over the alb. Like the stole, this garment is in the color of season of the church year.
The Church Year
The Episcopal Church observes the traditional Christian calendar in which we move through the life of Christ in the course of a year. See the Liturgical Seasons page for more detailed information about the seasons and feasts of the church year. Throughout the year, the Bible readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary, in which readings are selected for their relevance to the events being commemorated. During Ordinary Time, the long season after Pentecost, the three readings (the Old Testament, the Epistle, and the Gospel) are each read sequentially from Sunday to Sunday so the congregation can experience the total teaching and experience of various books of the Bible.
Where do I go from here?
To church, we hope! As you experience worship at St. George’s, please feel free to ask any questions that come to mind. Our priest will be happy to schedule time to visit with you. We trust and pray that, as worship becomes more familiar to you, the experience of being with God and your family in Christ at St. George’s will open the doors of the kingdom of God to you.