How Episcopalians Worship
How do Episcopalians worship?
If you are familiar with Roman Catholic or Lutheran services, you will find Episcopal services remarkably similar. The central rite is the Service of Holy Eucharist (aka "Communion," or "The Lord's Supper"), analogous to the Roman Catholic Mass (and referred to as "Mass" by some Episcopalians). The first part of the liturgy ("The Liturgy of the Word" ) consists of prayers, scripture readings and a sermon or homily. This is followed an Affirmation of Faith (The Nicene Creed), the Prayers of the People, Confession of Sin, Absolution, and the Exchange of Peace. The second part of the liturgy ("The Liturgy of the Eucharist") begins with the offerings of the congregation, then proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer, Consecration of the Elements (bread and wine), Communion, the Post-Communion Prayer, Blessing and Dismissal. Two Eucharistic Rites are commonly used by the Episcopal Church: The modern and less-formal Rite II is usually used for most of the year, with the older and more formal Rite I being used during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent.
The Act of Worship
Episcopal church services are congregational.
In the pews you will find the Book of Common Prayer, the use of which enables the congregation to share fully in every service. The large print is the actual service. The smaller print gives directions to ministers and people for conduct of the service.
You may wonder when to stand or kneel. Practices vary—even among individual Episcopalians.
The general rule is to stand to sing---hymns (found in the Hymnal in the pews) and other songs (many of them from the Holy Bible) called canticles or chants and printed as part of the service. We stand, too, to say our affirmation of faith, the The Apostles' Creed and for the reading of the Gospel in the Holy Eucharist. Psalms are sung or said sitting or standing. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. We stand or kneel for prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as children or as an act of humility before God.
The Regular Services
The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). In some Episcopal churches it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on Sunday morning. Weekday celebrations also are frequently without music, and without sermon. When celebrated at a later hour on Sundays, or on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music and a sermon are customary.
All baptized persons who recognize the presence of Christ in this Sacrament are welcome to receive Holy Communion.
At what age may a child take communion?
A child may take communion at any age. We do not believe that a certain "understanding" of the proceedings is necessary for the sacrament to be valid. The decision of when to take communion is left up to the child and his/her parents. However we currently request a first Communion Class which is recommended during the first grade.