If you are considering a visit to St. John’s, or curious about the way we worship in the Episcopal Church, this page provides some helpful information. Also, if you have a particular question, please feel free to call the church or introduce yourself to one of the clergy on your visit. We love the conversation.
What is liturgy?
The Greek word liturgy (λειτουργία) comes from two words: laos, meaning people, and ergon, meaning work. Liturgy is literally “the work of the people,” the way in which the early Christians structured their communal worship of God around specific words to reflect praise, thanksgiving, supplication, repentance, and the story of God’s love for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Churches that follow a liturgy do so not to stifle individual expression, but rather to give a form for the whole community to follow in which each person has a part to play.
What is Rite 1?
All of our worship comes directly from The Book of Common Prayer. The Prayer Book is “bilingual” in that it offers a traditional English rite (Rite 1) and a contemporary English rite (Rite 2). For Rite 1, think “King James,” or more accurately the Elizabethan English that was used during the time of Shakespeare. The 1662 Book of Common Prayer was published during Queen Elizabeth’s reign and was for years the language with which all Anglicans and Episcopalians worshiped, saying, “The Lord be with you / And with thy spirit.” At St. John’s, this Rite 1 form is what we use on Sunday mornings.
What is Rite 2?
Rite 2 is the The Book of Common Prayer’s contemporary language rite, reflective of how people speak today. (Example: “The Lord be with you / And also with you.”). At St. John’s, we use Rite 2 at our Saturday night ELEVATE service. It is also the rite we use for Morning Prayer and Eucharist at St. John’s Episcopal School throughout the week.
I’ve never been to a liturgical service. Will I be able to follow along?
We are not a church that judges people by how they participate in our services. We know it can be intimidating to take your place in the pews in a place where you don’t know all the customs. Besides providing worshipers with a bulletin, our ushers and greeters also are also able to give you our “Newcomers Guide to the Holy Eucharist” which eases the experience, putting all the words and music together in one place.
Who is allowed to participate in Communion?
Holy Communion is open to all baptized believers. You do not have to be a member of the Episcopal Church. It is not that we take Communion lightly as much as we take baptism and belief seriously. We believe that all who approach the altar in repentance and faith are welcome at the meal that Christ instituted for his followers. Worshipers who are not baptized or do not wish to receive the sacrament are invited to receive a blessing at the altar rail during the administration of Communion.
Are children and infants welcome in the service?
Absolutely. Our services are inter-generational. Even the youngest worshipers are able to participate in age appropriate ways. In order to aid parents who are shepherding their children through worship, we provide children’s bulletins for kids 8 through 11 and “borrow bags” with activities for younger children. Infants are welcome as well, but if they (or their parents) need a break, we have a room to which a family can retreat and still hear what’s going on during the service. Additionally, our Nursery is always available for children five years old and younger.
Do children receive Communion at St. John’s?
We leave it to parents to decide whether and when their children receive communion. Some families wait until their child is in first or second grade. Others desire that even their youngest receive the sacrament. We also offer regular classes for parents who are preparing their children to receive Holy Communion.
How do I get involved in serving at one of the worship services?
We are always looking for more Lectors (those who read Scripture) acolytes (those who assist the clergy at that altar) Lay Eucharistic Ministers (those who serve the chalice at communion) and more. Go to our Ministries page and sign up.