Let's Get Acquainted
A User-friendly Guide for Worship at All Saints
All Saints Episcopal Church
1301 East Houston Avenue
Crockett, TX 75835
First Things First:
Welcome to our worship service. We suspect you may have some questions. Everybody you see was a newcomer at one time, and we have all had questions, probably the same as yours. Do not hesitate to ask questions, as we want you to be comfortable in your worship of God while enjoying your visit to All Saints. You cannot be comfortable if you are unsure of which book to pick up next or try "to do everything right," which usually means doing the same things everyone else is doing.
When you are worshiping God, you cannot get it wrong! If you need help, ask the person next to you. We value our guests at All Saints. Regardless of what anybody else is doing, do not do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
It is the normal practice at All Saints that we celebrate Holy Communion on Sundays when the priest leads the service. You may be asking if you are permitted to receive communion; the answer is not only "YES," but we hope you will. If you do not feel comfortable receiving communion at this time, we still invite you to the "family table" to receive a blessing from the priest. Simply cross your arms over your chest to signify to the priest that you wish to receive a blessing rather than communion.
If you want to stop reading at this point and enjoy the worship service, please do. You can take this booklet with you.
Worship is a time to join with others in giving thanks to God for God's wonderful blessings in our lives. It is a time to allow yourself to enter into God's presence, to be touched by God's love.
What are these books in the rack in front of me?
The book racks include the Holy Bible, two hymnals, and The Book of Common Prayer. The words used in our worship service (the liturgy) are taken from The Book of Common Prayer, and the priest or worship leader will refer to the page numbers as we go through the service.
Why do some people kneel and pray before the service begins?
It's an Episcopal thing. We take time before the service to say "hello" to God to prepare our hearts for worship. If you are not sure what to pray in preparation for worship, personalizing the Collect of Purity is a good start:
Almighty God, to you my heart is open, my desires known,
and from You no secrets of mine are hid.
Cleanse the thoughts of my heart by the inspiration
of your Holy Spirit that I may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify Your holy Name;
though Christ our Lord, Amen.
It seems like we stand and sit a lot:
That's true. The general rule is that we stand to sing, sit to listen, and kneel to pray. We like to think that we involve our entire being in worship. We, of course, also engage our minds as well in worship, but at times our senses can deliver God's presence to our hearts in a way that is beyond our understanding. We are reminded that God is a mystery. That mystery is often communicated to us through the beauty of stain glass or strains of glorious music.
Why do some people bow and some kneel before entering the pews, and others do nothing at all:
What you are noticing is called "reverencing," and people have different ways of doing it. Some bow in the direction of the altar, some "genuflect" (touch their knee to the floor), others reverence silently or without gesture. What is important is that you do what feels comfortable and what helps your worship. None of these gestures is expected or required of you to worship with us.
Why do some people touch their forehead and shoulders:
Again, this is a personal worship practice. This is called making the Sign of the Cross. Some people do it in remembrance of their baptism, others because it reminds them of the price Jesus made (the cross) to enable us to respond to God's love; still others because it is their way of taking up their own "cross" and following Him. You will see them doing this at times during the service, too.
Once again, do what is comfortable and meaningful to you and allow others the freedom to do the same.
Is this a Roman Catholic Church as it looks very Roman Catholic to me:
The simple answer is "no". Our spiritual heritage is from both the Roman Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation. We are affiliated with the Church of England or Anglican Communion. The Church of England originally was Roman Catholic, but during the Reformation in the 16th century, it separated from the Roman Catholic Church. The earliest English Reformers defined our church as the Via Media, the middle way between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformation. One person has described the Episcopal Church as a church that was Catholic in worship and Protestant in doctrine.
What is going to happen next:
As you wait for the service to begin, you will see people bowed in prayer and probably hear people visiting in the back as they are greeted by the usher. The priest will greet the congregation followed by the opening hymn. If you love the hymn, belt it out, whether you are in tune or not. As the Scriptures say, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord ."If you do not know the hymn or do not want to sing, you can just read the words to yourself or look around and enjoy the beauty of the nave (worship space) and the music.
How does Holy Communion work:
As stated earlier, all worshippers are invited to participate at the altar rail for the reception of Holy Communion. You may kneel or stand to receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion is received by first eating the bread and then by drinking of the cup. The normal custom for receiving bread is to place one hand, palm up, into the palm of the other hand and lift both to the priest to receive the wafer.
Next comes the wine. Beware, it is real wine, not grape juice. When the priest comes to you, you may guide the cup to your lips and take a small sip. A second option, if you prefer, is to dip a portion of the bread into the wine as it is offered to you rather than drinking from the common cup. A third option is to cross your arms over your chest, which signifies to the priest that you do not wish to receive the wine, which is totally acceptable.
Those who do not wish to receive Holy Communion may come to the altar rail for a blessing. Crossing your arms over your chest signifies to the priest that you wish to receive a blessing.
The Holy Scriptures are the revealed word of God, which inspired the human authors of the Scripture and which is interpreted by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Nicene Creed is the basic statement of our belief about God.
The two great sacraments given by Christ to the Church are Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.
The teachings and beliefs of the Episcopal Church are articulated in an "Outline of the Faith" in our Book of Common Prayer.
The Episcopal Church follows the "via media" or middle way in our theology and discussions because we believe that, whether or not we agree on a particular topic, we all are beloved by God and can have thoughtful and respectful discussions. There are no prerequisites in the Episcopal Church … everyone is welcome.
We honor tradition and strive to live by the example of Jesus Christ, welcoming the stranger and the outcast, helping our neighbors, and offering love and forgiveness.
In the Episcopal Church, we are called to live out our faith on a daily basis, whether we are at home, school, work, or recreation. The cornerstones of our faith are Scripture, tradition, and reason.
Thank you for worshiping at All Saints.
The Episcopal Diocese of Texas
Diocesan Bishop: The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle
Bishop Suffragan-Austin: The Rt. Rev. Kathryn M. Ryan
Bishop Suffragan-Tyler: The Rt. Rev. Jeff W. Fisher
Bishop Assistant: Rt. Rev. Hector F. Monterroso
All Saints Staff
Bivocational Priest: Rev. Ashley Cook
Senior Warden: Connie Pasho
Treasurer: David Baker
Worship Leader: Don Mize