St. Timothy’s is a member of the Episcopal Church of the United States. Episcopal means having bishops who are the leaders of the church and spiritual descendants of the apostles of Christ. The Episcopal Church is part of the world-wide Anglican Communion which includes those churches derived from the Church of England.
St. Timothy’s extends a generous welcome to you to worship with us, and offers the information here as a brief introduction to the Episcopal Church and its ways.
View our annual Liturgical Calendar
The Place of Worship
As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Your eye is carried to the altar, or holy table, and to the cross. So our thoughts at once are taken to Christ and to God whose house the church is. There are also beautiful stain glass windows depicting events from Jesus’ life and from the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture.
Near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the “Light of the World.” Often there are flowers in the urns behind the altar, to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus.
On one side at the front of the church, there is a lectern, or stand, for the proclamation of the Word; here the Scriptures are read. The sermon is preached either from the pulpit on the opposite side of the church.
The Act of Worship
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 of kneel. Practices vary, even among individual Episcopalians. The general rule is to stand to sing – hymns (found in 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 also, to say our affirmation of faith, the 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 or Holy Communion. In some Episcopal services it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on a Sunday morning. Weekday celebrations also are frequently without music, and without a sermon. When celebrated at a later hour on Sundays, or on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music and a sermon are customary.
At St. Timothy’s we welcome everyone to the table to receive Holy Eucharist. Every Sunday we say, “This is God’s table, and in Jesus’ name all are welcome here.” We welcome everyone as we believe Jesus welcomes the world to share in his love, reconciliation and healing.
Another service is Morning Prayer. The parallel evening service is Evening Prayer. These services consist of psalms, Bible readings, and prayers; and may include a sermon or reflection. They may be with or without music.
While parts of the services are always the same, others change. At the Holy Eucharist, for example, two or three Bible selections are read. These change each Sunday. So do the psalms. Some of the prayers also change, in order to provide variety. Page numbers for parts of service printed elsewhere in the Book of Common Prayer are usually announced or given in the service leaflet; but, please always feel free to ask your neighbor for the page number.
You will find the services of the Episcopal Church beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centered, and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.
Before And After Services
It is custom upon entering church to kneel in one’s pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. In many churches it is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ.
Episcopalians do not talk in church before a service but use this time for personal meditation and devotions. At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others sometimes sit or stand to listen to the organ postlude.
To add to the beauty and festivity of the services, and to signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers wear vestments. Choir vestments usually consist of an undergown called a cassock (usually black) and a white, gathered overgown called a surplice. The clergy may also wear a cassock and surplice.
Another familiar vestment is the alb, a white tunic with sleeves that covers the body from neck to ankles. Over it (or over the surplice) ordained minister wear a stole, a narrow band of colored fabric. Deacons wear the stole over one shoulder, priests and bishops over both shoulders.
At the Holy Eucharist a bishop or priest frequently wears a chasuble (a circular garment that envelops the body) over the alb and stole. The deacon’s corresponding vestment has sleeves and is called a dalmatic. Bishops sometimes wear a special head-covering called a mitre.
Stoles, chasubles, and dalmatics, 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, green, and sarum blue.
Coming And Going
If there are ushers they will greet you and may escort you to a pew. If you desire, they will answer your questions about the service. Pews are usually unreserved in Episcopal churches. Following the service the pastor greets the people as they leave or go to coffee hour.
You Will Be Welcomed!
When you visit an Episcopal church, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, or asked to stand before the congregation or to come forward. You will worship God with us.
We invite you to join St. Timothy’s community! We’re happy to answer your questions. Please let us know if you would like to become a member. Please fill out the card either in the pew or the welcome packet that you shall receive; or, send us an email at the following link:
We’re happy to answer your questions you may have. If you are interested in baptism, marriage or if you have any other pastoral concerns, we stand ready to assist you.