What to Expect

Welcome!

We are always happy to see new faces at St. Augustine Episcopal Church. Our Sunday services are at 8:00 a.m., and 10:00 a.m. (with Nursery and Sunday School). All are welcome in The Episcopal Church, no matter your race, gender, identity, or background.

The Episcopal Church is a liturgical tradtion, using the Rite II (contemporary language) liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer. If you'd like to learn more, consider joining us for Episcopal 101 on the 3rd Sunday of the month. Our tradition contains a rich diversity of expression, and at St. Augustine you will generally find a blend of traditional and contemporary music. We don't tend to kneel, but there are individual kneelers available if that is an important practice to you. If you've never experienced liturgical worship before, it can be difficult to follow, which is why we put 99% of everything you need to know on projector screens. 

We have two primary service times on Sunday, 8:00 and 10:00.

Our 8:00 service is simple. We do not use the projector screens, but we will call out page numbers so you can follow along in the red Book of Common Prayer. There is no music at this service.

Our 10:00 service is our main gathering time. We project the service onto screens so you can follow along. There is music led by our choir, as well as nursery care and Sunday School for children under 10.

Here is what to expect on a typical Sunday at St. Augustine:

Parking
When you arrive at St. Augustine, on Wildcat Blvd. near Maria Montessori Charter Academy, you will find plenty of parking in our main lot and along the retaining wall that stretches down to the school. There are handicap spots available in close proximity to the building. After entering the main entrance, restrooms are to the right.

Visiting
Greeters will welcome you at the front doors of the church, and give you a name tag. If you don’t have a permanent name tag, the greeters can help you sign up for one. If it’s your first time, the greeters will also give you a purple welcome folder, containing some information about St. Augustine and a white visitor card that you can use to share your info and what your experience was like with us.

Ushers will welcome you into the worship space and give you a bulletin containing the hymns, readings, and weekly announcements. If you need to contact our clergy or staff, their contact information is on the back of the bulletin. Have a seat anywhere you like; we use comfortable chairs instead of pews and there is no assigned seating.

Before the service some music will be played. This is a nice time to pray and gather yourself for worship; some folks chat a bit, and that’s okay, too. You may see some people scurrying around up near the altar and the lectern, making last minute preparations before for the service begins.

If you have children, we have Sunday School (appropriate for ages 3-10, give or take a year or two) in the classroom at 10:00. The children join us in the church for Communion around 10:40. We also have wonderful nursery care for the tiny ones during the 10:00 service. If you wish to take your youngsters to either place, the rooms are easy to spot and the ushers will be happy to direct you. Your children are also welcome to stay in church with you. We are happy to have kids in church with us, and don’t mind a little extra noise. It’s not a library, after all.

Our services begin with a greeting from our priest and a moment to take a deep breath. When the opening hymn begins, everyone stands and the altar party processes to the front of the church. The words to the hymns are projected on the screens, and if you read music it is found either in the blue hymnal or printed in the bulletin.

We typically have a choir, but we sing as a group and welcome you to join in, no matter what kind of voice you have. God created and loves every voice.

Episcopalians are known for sitting, standing, kneeling, and even some “wandering around” during services. You may follow along or just sit and observe. Basically, we stand to sing and pray, and sit to learn. Also, you will notice that some of us bow when the cross passes, or cross ourselves at certain times during the service. These are signs of respect and reverence to Christ. These practices vary greatly among our parishioners; you will not stick out if you do not make any of these gestures because not everyone does.

Our service consists of two main parts: the Word and the Table.

The Word

You will hear Old Testament and New Testament readings, read by a church member (lay reader) who comes forward to the lectern. In between readings there will be a Psalm, usually read together by the entire congregation, and another hymn. For the Gospel reading, a priest and an acolyte will proceed to the middle of the worship space. As a sign of respect and devotion to the Gospel, the congregation will stand and turn to face the Gospel book.

Next will be a sermon offered by one of our priests. Following that, we stand to recite the Nicene Creed, an ancient statement of the basic beliefs shared by most Christian denominations. Join in or read along silently, or just listen. Then we share in the “Prayers of the People” which vary by the week depending on whom or what needs praying for. You will hear people offer up names of folks they are asking prayers for. They may even just say “thank you for this beautiful day”. Most people stand for the prayers, although a few will kneel, and if you prefer to remain seated that's okay too.

After we read our prayer of confession, the priest will proclaim God’s forgiveness of your sins, and then call out ”May the Peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which we respond, “And also with you!”

At this point, people will pass “the Peace,” a time to shake hands with a neighbor, and to greet those with whom you are worshiping, by simply saying to them “Peace”. Some people will wander around to greet more people, but contrary to popular belief this is not social hour. Soon, we return to our seats and the priest will share a few announcements for the day. At the end of the announcements, the priest will invite anyone forward who would like a blessing for a birthday, anniversary, or thanksgiving.

The Table

The second main portion of our service is Holy Eucharist, an ancient Greek word meaning Thanksgiving. It’s also called Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or Mass. The clergy prepare the altar for communion with the help of the acolytes. During this time an offering will be collected. The ushers will pass through the church with an offering plate. Folks will put into it cash, checks, or pledge envelopes. You may put your filled out visitor card in the plate. If you’re just visiting, please don’t feel pressured to give. Your presence is a gift. The ushers will go down each aisle with the collection plates. When they bring the offerings to the altar everyone stands and sings a short hymn, called the Doxology.

The priest will lead us in the prayer of the Great Thanksgiving, during which time Episcopalians believe the gifts of bread and wine on the altar become the Real Presence of Christ.

We are now ready to share the gifts of God in Communion. Although some denominations limit who may receive communion, we believe that this Table belongs to God, not the Church, and therefore it is open to all who love God or want to love God more.

The ushers will direct the congregation in forming a line to receive communion. You are not required to receive, and remaining seated during this time is alright. If you choose to receive, the wafer of bread will be placed in your hand with the words “The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven,” to which the common response is “Amen.” Then, you will be offered the cup of wine with the word, “The Blood of Christ, the Cup of Salvation,” to which the response is “Amen.” Some people prefer to dip the bread in the wine (called intinction), while others eat the bread and drink from the cup directly. Both are perfectly normal. If you have a gluten sensitivity, we have gluten-free wafers available.

If you want to go forward but do not want to receive the bread or wine, you may simply cross your arms in front of your chest and the priest will give you a blessing. This is also very common, and no one will think it strange or judge you.

When all have had an opportunity to receive Communion, we finish with a post-Communion prayer, a blessing from the priest, and sing another hymn as the altar party process back out. The priest gives a final dismissal and we are on our way!

If you would like, we welcome you to follow the crowd and join us for treats and coffee. We hope to see you soon!

 

  October 2019  
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