What to Expect
“Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: both low and high, rich and poor, together…”
Worship in the Anglican tradition is beautiful, dignified, reverent, and moving. It can also be intimidating for a newcomer. While nearly all parishes of the Episcopal Church use the liturgies of The Book of Common Prayer, local quirks and customs mean that even dyed-in-the-wool Episcopalians can be surprised or confused when visiting a new congregation. Here are answers to a few questions you may have before visiting Christ Church.
—What should I wear?
There is no dress code! You will see tee-shirts and blue jeans, jackets and ties, and everything in between. Some parishioners find that putting on their “Sunday best” puts them in a good frame of mind to worship. Others prefer a “come as you are” approach. All who cross the threshold with a spirit of reverence and respect are welcome here.
—Where should I sit?
While it sometimes feels as though folks have their own reserved pews, all seats are free! Parents of young children are encouraged to sit up front so that the kids can see and hear everything that is happening in the service. This also gives easy access to the transept door (to the right of the pulpit), which is the best way to sneak out to the bathrooms located in the Parish House. Sit where you are most comfortable, and say hello to your neighbors!
—Are children allowed in church?
YES! We are blessed to have a wonderful mix of generations in the pews every Sunday, and children are always welcome at worship. At the 10:00 a.m. service on Sunday mornings, families sit together through the first hymns and the opening prayers. The Rector then calls the children down for their own Children’s Message, after which kids are invited to Children’s Chapel, held next door to the Church in St Agnes Chapel. Children’s Chapel is led by a rotating team of wonderful volunteers, and there are always at least two leaders each week. Moms and dads are always welcome to join their little ones in Children’s Chapel if the kids are feeling a nervous. Everyone returns to the Church at the Peace, and families are together again for Holy Communion.
In addition to Children’s Chapel, Christ Church is proud to offer loving, professional childcare each Sunday in our Nursery on the first floor of the Parish House, on the Fair Street side of the building. Infants, toddlers, and children up to age five can enjoy a safe, free-play environment from 9:45 to 11:45 on Sunday mornings.
—How long is the service?
Our liturgies range in length. Daily Morning and Evening Prayer each take less than half-an-hour—a great way to begin and end the workday. The 8:00 a.m. Sunday service has only one hymn and takes about 50 minutes. The 10:00 a.m. Sunday service with hymns and full choir usually takes about 75 minutes, and is followed by Coffee Hour with refreshments and wonderful fellowship. Parishioners sometimes vary their preferred service depending on their schedules. Try out several options and see which is best for you!
—Will I have to stand up and introduce myself?
No! While we are always honored to welcome guests and visitors—and would be delighted for you to consider becoming a member of Christ Church—you will not be asked to identify yourself during a Sunday service. We do encourage anyone who wants to learn more about Christ Church to fill out a pew card with contact information and drop it in the collection plate so that we may welcome you more fully. Our hope is that when you are here you will worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, not be embarrassed or made to stand out!
—Do I have to put money in the collection plate?
While all gifts are gratefully received, regular giving is a spiritual discipline for our members and we do not expect visitors to contribute. Should you feel moved to make an offering when the collection plate is passed, we thank you for your gift. Should you choose not to put anything in the plate, we thank you for your presence in worship!
—How do I know when to stand, sit, or kneel?
Anglican worship is sometimes mocked as holy calisthenics. It’s true, there’s a lot of movement! At Christ Church, we try to make all the action clear in our bulletin. Italicized instructions called “rubrics” spell out the custom of the Parish and of most parishioners. Often options are noted, and either one is acceptable (e.g. “The People kneel or stand.”). But all worshipers should feel free to engage in the service in whatever ways are most meaningful and comfortable for them. Is it not your practice to make the sign of the Cross? Don’t do it. Will your knees ache from standing for all the verses of a hymn? Sing out from a seated position. Worship is about God, not about us. Fix your focus on him, respect the people around you, and you can’t go wrong!