First Visit

What To Expect On Your First Visit


The Place of Worship - As you enter through the double red doors, on your left will be the Nave, or actual worship area, while on your right will be a hallway leading to parish hall, restrooms, several offices, and the nursery. Entering into the Nave, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Anglican churches are built in many architectural styles; but whether the church is small or large, elaborate or plain, your eye is immediately carried to the altar, or holy table, and to the cross. So our thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is. On the altar are candles to remind us that Christ is the "Light of the world'', and flowers, to beautify God's house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus. As you face the altar, on the left will be the pulpit where the sermon is preached. On the right is our organ and the front two pews - set aside for the choir.

Before the Service – Other than for the choir, pews are unreserved in our church; feel free to find an open space and sit down. It is the custom upon finding a seat to kneel for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. You will also find that many people bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ. Most Anglicans do not talk in church before a service but use this time for personal meditation and devotions. A meditation card is available in the pew to help guide and center your thoughts.

The Act of Worship - Anglican Church services involve active congregational worship. In the pews you will find copies of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and the 1940 Hymnal, the two books that are used throughout the service. For those not familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, we have prepared a summarized version of the service that is available upon request from the ushers, and may prove easier to use initially. The service bulletin that should have been provided to you upon entering the church will give you a detailed outline of how the service will proceed. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask members sitting next to you; they will be happy to help you.

You may wonder when to stand, sit or kneel. Practices vary---even among individual Anglicans. The general rule is to stand to sing---hymns (found in the Hymnal), to say our affirmation of faith, the Creed, and for the reading of the Gospel in the Holy Eucharist. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. We kneel for prayer as an act of humility before God. Follow the lead of those around you, and you will be fine.

The Regular Service - Our principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). When celebrated on Sundays, or on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music and a sermon are customary. We also offer a weekday celebration on Wednesday evenings without music, and without sermon.

What Clergy Wear - To add to the beauty and significance of the services, and to signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers customarily wear vestments. Acolytes and Lay Readers will wear an black undergown called a cassock and a white, gathered overgown called a surplice. The clergy will be dressed in an alb, a white tunic with sleeves that cover the body from neck to ankles, over which ordained ministers will wear a stole, a narrow band of colored fabric. Deacons wear the stole over the left shoulder, priests and bishops over both shoulders. The priest in charge of the service (the Celebrant) will also wear a chasuble (a circular garment that envelopes the body) over the alb and stole. Stoles, chasubles, and pulpit / altar coverings will all reflect the colors of the current liturgical season. The colors used are white (signifying the Holy Trinity and used on great festival occasions), red (signifying the tongues of fire at Pentecost and the blood of martyrs), violet (signifying penitence and preparation), and green (the color of nature and growth, and used when other colors are not specified).

You Will Not be Embarrassed - When you visit our church, you are our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation nor to come forward. You will worship God with us, as one of us.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How should I dress when visiting?

We are not fussy about what to wear to church, but at the same time we realize that we are entering God’s house to meet and worship Him, and certainly want to wear something appropriate for the occasion. What that entails is different for each individual; we let you make that choice.

What if I have kids?

We find that virtually all our congregants prefer to have their children with them throughout the service. We encourage that approach, but also know that at times a separate space may be required for a variety of reasons. For those occasions, we have available a well-equipped nursery with a video monitor system that allows people in the nursery to continue to view and participate in the worship service. We do not have a babysitter for the nursery.

What is our worship style?

The type of Christian spirituality that you’ll find when visiting St. John’s is deeply rooted in our catholic and Anglican heritage. It is a modern, liturgical, biblical and sacramental expression of an ancient faith. Our church life follows the seasons of the church year —Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the Trinity season after Pentecost. We are a classic example of the Anglican “via media” or middle way; we are neither “high” church nor “low” church; neither exclusively anglo-catholic nor evangelical, but a blend of them all.

What is the Holy Eucharist?

The Holy Eucharist (or Holy Communion, or Mass, as it is also known) is central to our Sunday worship service. We believe that in the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist, our Lord is present among us. We welcome all baptized adult Christians to receive Communion when visiting. We teach that children up to the point of confirmation are covered by baptismal grace and not in need of receiving the sacraments of Communion, but if they are used to receiving elsewhere, it is fine with us that they commune as well. If you are not a baptized Christian, or for whatever reason do not want to receive Communion, please feel free to come forward with fellow worshipers to receive a blessing from the priest.

How do I take Communion?

It may look intimidating when visiting for the first time, but participating in the Holy Eucharist is as easy as eating and drinking. When you get to the altar rail, either kneel or stand with your hands out and palms up. The priest will place a consecrated wafer in your outstretched hands. You may eat the consecrated bread right then (most do), or leave it in your hand for the chalice bearer to dip it in the wine and place it on your tongue (called intinction.)

Stay standing or kneeling, and when the chalice bearer reaches you, he will offer you the chalice cup to drink from. If you are not intincting, help the chalice bearer guide the cup to your lips and take a sip; it is necessary only to touch the wine with your lips, not drink. If you prefer to receive by intinction, hand the consecrated bread to the chalice bearer, and he will dip the bread in the wine and place it on your tongue.

If you are only coming for a blessing instead of receiving Communion, cross your arms over your chest in an “×.” This will let the priest know that you won’t be taking Communion.

Questions ?

Ask anyone for help! You are our guest, and we want to help you in any way that we can. Worship in the Anglican tradition is worship as a community; we want you to feel yourself as a comfortable and welcome part of that community!

Where are we located?