...but, in fact, most of these are things some of us remember wondering about ourselves. Or maybe just imagine someone might wonder about if they were suddenly thrust into an Episcopal Church on Sunday Morning. ..
Will I be welcome?
You will be totally welcome — old or young, CEO or blue collar, gay or straight, Christian believer or just curious.
What is worship like?
Worship at St. Matthew's is traditional and liturgical in the long-standing heritage of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.
Sunday Mornings we usually have a Rite II Holy Eucharist. If that sentence made no sense to you, don't worry. It was there for the experienced Episcopalians. What it means is that we have Communion most Sundays and that the language we use is a bit more modern. Our hymns are traditional and we are a liturgical church, which means that the proceedings are mapped out in advance and there is a lot of congregational participation.
Stand up, sit down, kneel, cross yourself... All those gestures do have meanings, and you may want to eventually learn what to do and why. At the beginning, though, don't worry about it. Just observe and join in as much as you feel comfortable.
All those books. Episcopalians are famous for our ability to juggle three books (Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal and songbook) while worshipping. :-) We have tried to simplify the lives of visitors by putting most of it in the Sunday bulletin. After a while you'll wonder why it ever seemed confusing .
What should I wear?
Pretty much anything you choose. Our building is not air conditioned, so in the summer, we sometimes show up in shorts and sandals.
He died to take away your sins...
not your mind.
If you have been baptized with water, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit—in any Christian tradition whatsoever—you are welcome at the altar rail. If you have mobility problems, let the priest know beforehand, and you can receive the Eucharist at your pew.
Yes, it really is wine. If that presents a problem, you can
· Cross your hands over your chest when the cup comes to you. It's the recognized "signal" for "please pass me by" --and the bread by itself is sufficient for the sacrament.
· Just dip the Communion wafer into the wine when the cup comes to you.
Please do stay for Coffee Hour. The food is usually pretty good, and It's where we get to know each other.
That's a reasonable question. We do have bishops and cathedrals and liturgy …
In fact, the Anglican Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church a good many years before the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist movements got off the ground.
Some might say we were booted out…
Though we are not properly “protestant” we have been strongly influenced by reformation thinking and theology as well as by the history we all share with the Roman Catholic Church.
On any normal Sunday we hear readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the New Testament (usually from one of Paul's letters), and one of the Gospels. We follow a lectionary, which is a plan that gets us through the whole Bible in about three years.
On a different note, we look to three sources of authority for our decisions: scripture, tradition, and reason. These together are sometimes called the "three-legged stool," because you need all three for it to be stable.
...you're just doing these things to be politically correct, aren't you?
We do these things because we believe they are God's will. We arrive at major decisions through a long process of discussion, prayer, and debate, and there are often very strong feelings on both sides. We don't just "go with the flow." (And that "three-legged stool" illustration above has moved us to accept female clergy and sexual minorities.)
To take a different example, in some places modern American culture is hostile toward immigrants and homeless people, but we believe it's God's will for us to reach out and help these strangers among us. Political correctness might lead us to keep quiet, but instead we put out the welcome mat, and some have suffered for it.
What about "Evangelical"? Does that term fit you?
The modern Evangelical movement has come out of protestant fundamentalism, and focuses on a narrow set of biblical and political issues. That is not our historical background, and we have a broader set of concerns.
In a different sense, though, we really are evangelical. The Greek word ευαγγελιον (good news) became the modern English word "evangel," and our history is very tightly involved with telling the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, likes to refer to us as The Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. But we are not part of the political movement known as the Evangelicals.
What is "Apostolic Succession"?
We hold that there is an unbroken line, going bishop to bishop, all the way back to the Apostle Peter. So, when the bishop visits to confirm a new member, there is a direct line going back to the very earliest days of the faith. On the other hand, we recognize that many churches do not have this historic tradition. We recognize the validity of their baptism and we welcome them to participate in Eucharist with us.