What to expect in an Episcopal service

What to Expect When You Visit

While Episcopalians pride ourselves on our hospitality, visiting any Church for the first time can be a little intimidating.  Everything from the lay of the land to the language can make it all too easy to get turned around.  At Holy Trinity, we’re happy to let you get your bearings at your own pace, but the last thing we want you to feel when stepping into our church is alone.

 Our Ushers

Your first encounter with Holy Trinity will be with one of our ushers.  These friendly folks are parishioners dedicated to the ministry of hospitality.  At the least, they will bid you good morning, hand you a service bulletin and direct you to the Nave for worship. 

Holy Trinity occupies a magnificent space and like many older churches– Holy Trinity hit the century mark several years ago – it can be confusing at first to find classrooms, bathrooms and our Parish Hall, so please don’t hesitate to ask.  Our Christian Formation classes offer a variety of programs for adults, youth and children – you don’t want to miss out simply because you can’t figure out how to get there!  Indeed, you will not be the first to ask for directions, so don’t hesitate. 

Welcoming Children

Children of all ages are always welcome during worship.  If you prefer, we offer childcare for children 4 years old and younger.  The ushers will be happy to direct you to the nursery.   Once there you’ll find caregivers who are experienced and have been selected based on their abilities, love for children and nurturing spirit. 

The Act of Worship 

As you enter the Nave, you’ll be greeted by atmosphere of worship and reverence. We recognize that our parishioners lead busy lives and may have just completed a frantic, minor miracle in making it to the service at all. This quiet calm before a service is an opportunity to re-focus on the big picture and prepare oneself for group worship. 

A typical Episcopal Sunday service has two parts: the Word and Communion.  The Word is where we hear Scripture readings, say our prayers, and listen to the sermon.  Communion is where we share the Bread and Wine as Jesus commanded us to do before he died. 

The service follows an order found in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), two-thirds of which is scriptural. Every worship service includes the reading of Holy Scripture from the Old and New Testaments. Many of our prayers and hymns are filled with Scripture. The BCP allows everyone to participate, reminding us that each person is an important part of the worship experience.  At Holy Trinity most of the liturgy is transcribed for you in the bulletin. 

Stand, Sit or Kneel? 

Throughout the service, we will both stand and kneel to assist in the physical act of worship. If you’re new to the Episcopal tradition, a simple guide is to just follow the folks next to you.  Practices vary – even among individual Holy Trinity parishioners. The general rules are: 

 Stand for singing, affirming the Creed, reading the Gospel, and during certain prayers. 

Sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament letters, the sermons, and the choir anthems. 

As you are able, kneel during certain prayers or as an act of humility before God. 

Receiving the Eucharist 

All baptized Christians— regardless of denomination—are welcome to receive communion with the congregation. Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously.

Come forward to the Altar Rail as the ushers direct you and take the next available place. You may kneel or stand. Receive the communion bread from the priest in your open right palm. You may choose to receive the wine directly from the chalice by gently guiding it to your lips as the Eucharistic Minister presents it to you, or you may “intinct,” or dip the bread into the wine.  You may also receive blessing. To indicate your desire to be blessed, please cross your arms over your chest. If it is physically difficult for you to come to the altar rail, please indicate this to an usher and a priest will bring communion to you where you are seated. 

Children are welcome at the Lord’s Table at their parents’ discretion.  If your child does not receive, he/she may come to the altar rail to receive a blessing.  To indicate their desire to be blessed, please have your children cross their arms over their chest. 

Christian Formation 

During the program year (September-May) you will find a variety of classes for adults, youth, and children of all ages.  Please refer to the back page of your bulletin for a list the day’s offerings, room assignments for all classes, and information on Coffee Hour. 

As our guest we encourage you to ask questions and seek information. Please fill out a welcome card (found in the pew) and place it in the offering plate or hand it to our priest. We also invite and encourage you to introduce yourself to our clergy and staff. 

Holy Trinity is a large and diverse community, bringing together people of many different backgrounds, ages and interests. Some are simply involved on Sunday mornings, others come for programs during the week, and still others choose to envision and plan new programs and directions for the parish to grow. Whatever your desired level of involvement, whatever your interests; we invite you to talk to members of our community, to browse the pages of this website (even to subscribe to our bi-weekly email to know what’s going on) and ask questions.  We want you to feel at home. We’re glad you’re here.