What to Expect at Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican
A Place of Worship
As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of prayerful worship and reverence. Anglican churches can be built in various architectural styles (ask about our story sometime); but whether the church be small or large (ours is medium), elaborate or plain (ours is simple, but lovely), your vision is drawn 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 there are candles to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world, according to John 8:12. Often there are flowers or greenery, to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus.
On both sides at the front of the church, there are two wooden stands on opposite sides for the proclamation of the Word: at the lectern, the Scriptures are read and at the pulpit, the sermon is preached.
In the northwest side of the nave, just beyond the transept, the side altar and votive stand reflects a rich Anglican heritage where you may light a candle to offer prayer or thanksgiving to God, knowing God hears us.
An Act of Worship
In Anglican churches, the congregation is actively involved through participation in worship. In the pews you will find the Holy Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Book of Common Praise. Upon entering the nave, you will receive a service bulletin that enables the congregation to share fully in every service. You may wonder when to stand or kneel. Practices vary, even among individual Anglicans. The general rule is to stand to sing hymns and other songs called canticles or chants as part of the service. We stand, too, 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 and New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. Psalms are said or sung sitting. We kneel for confession of sin or prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as his children and as an act of humility before him.
The Order of Service
The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion), analogous to Mass. At the first service, it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on a Sunday morning. Also, weekday celebrations are usually without music, and without a sermon. When celebrated at a later hour on Sundays, and on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music and a sermon are customary.
While some parts of the services are always the same, others change. At the Holy Eucharist, for example, two Bible selections are read. These change each Sunday. So do the Psalms. Certain prayers also change, in order to provide variety.
If you are familiar with Lutheran or Roman Catholic services, you will find Anglican services remarkably similar. The first part of the liturgy consists of prayers, readings of Holy Scripture, and a sermon or homily, followed by 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 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.
You will find the services of the Anglican Church beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centered, and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.
At the Holy Eucharist, all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination, who have “self examined and are in love and charity with their neighbor,” are welcome to partake. The usher will direct the people in each pew to stand and get in line. Proceed to the communion station, kneeling along the front of the chancel or the priest standing in the middle of the aisle near the first pew.
Receive the bread (wafer) by making a cradle with your hands, placing your right hand into your left with both palms up. After the celebrant places the bread into your open hands, upon the words spoken, you may eat. Proceed to the chalice bearer to receive the wine and assist him/her to guide the chalice to your lips. Avoid leaving backwash. Drink only one sip from the chalice and remove your lips from the cup quickly. Alternately, if you do not wish to drink of the common cup, simply refrain from eating the bread once placed into your open hands and holding it by the tips of your fingers, give the wafer to the chalice bearer who will then take the wafer from you, dip it in the wine, and place it in your mouth.
If you wish to come forward for a blessing, but do not wish to partake of the Holy Eucharist, cross your arms in front of you with one hand on each shoulder and the celebrant will say a blessing over you.
If you do not wish to receive wine from the communion cup, simply indicate that or walk past the chalice bearer, and return to your pew. Anglicans believe that Christ is present in both the bread and wine.
Once you have communed return to your seat. You are invited to kneel and pray, listen to the music, or sit silently.
The peace is an ancient liturgical practice demonstrated as an exchange or greeting through word or gesture. It is a sign of reconciliation, love, and renewed relationships in the Christian community. Once initiated by the celebrant in the spoken words, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” The response of the peoples, “And also with you (or and with thy spirit).” The ministers and congregation greet one another in the name of the Lord with the words of peace and a hand shake or embrace.
Warning: Observance will indicate that the people of Church of the Holy Spirit are rather “huggy”, however your outstretched hand will be respected or brief eye contact and a verbal exchange of the word “peace” will be accepted.
Before and After
It is customary upon entering church to kneel in one’s pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship, personal meditation, and devotion. It is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ. At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others may sit to listen to the postlude or final song of worship.
Coming and Going
Pews are unreserved unless marked by a rope or sign. Following the service the priest often greets the people as they leave.
What Clergy and Lay Persons Wear
To add to the beauty and festivity of the services, and to signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers customarily wear vestments.
At the Holy Eucharist a bishop or priest frequently wears a chasuble (a circular garment that envelops the body) over the alb (a white tunic with sleeves that covers the body from neck to ankles) and stole (a narrow band of colored fabric). Other ministers, such as acolytes and chalice bearers, typically wear an alb, cincture (a rope-like tie at the waist), and cross.
Stoles and chasubles, as well as altar coverings, are usually made of rich fabrics. Their color changes with the seasons and holy days of the Church Year. The most frequently used colors are white, red, violet, and green.
Parishioners wear a range of styles from jeans to suits, but most dress somewhere in between. Business casual would be considered appropriate attire since worship is a special time. Whether the choice of dress be casual or more formal, who you are is acceptable to God… and us.
You Will Not Be Embarrassed
When you visit Church of the Holy Spirit Anglican, you will be 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. Booklets about the church are available in the narthex. A book to sign and leave your information is available at the end of each row should you choose to do so.
Should you wish to know more about the Anglican Church or how one becomes Anglican, the priest will gladly answer your questions and suggest the way to membership.
It is expected that cell phones will be silenced or turned off before entering the nave.
Children are welcome to worship, even noisy ones. We are family-friendly and understand that children are not always quiet or sleeping. A nursery is available for children – infants through age 3. Older children, ages 4 and up, may participate in the regular service or sit near the front with guidance and return in time for the Holy Eucharist with their families.
If you found your way to this web page, we hope you feel more comfortable and warmly welcomed knowing a bit more about us and what to expect. Sometimes unknown factors can make church feel intimidating or uncomfortable. Our hope is that you will join us in worship very soon.