Your First Visit: expect friendly people and no judging
Our service starts at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. Come as you are, wherever you are in your faith exploration. We invite you to join us in celebrating Holy Communion, singing hymns and contemplating Holy Scripture. On most Sundays, our Adult Formation classes take place at 9:00 a.m in the St. John Room. Topics vary. Past classes have involved books of the Bible, prayer practices, saints, mystics, church history and other opportunities to learn about our rich, ancient and evolving tradition.
The Episcopal Mass combines ancient rituals, some of which go back to the very earliest church, with theology focused on God’s presence with us now, calling to us from the future. You may recognize some practices that resonate with other Catholic expressions as well as some prayers that carry something of a more Celtic sensibility.
Our services follow an order dictated by the Book of Common Prayer, which keeps us in synch with our ancient past as well as with the larger Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion of which it is a part.
When you arrive, an usher will greet you and hand you a bulletin. Following along in the bulletin may take a little getting used to, but it will guide you through the service. You’ll see references to pages in the “BCP,” which is the red Book of Common Prayer in the rack right in front of your seat in the pew. The bulletin will also point out hymns from the Hymnal 1982, which is the blue book also in the rack.
Families of all kinds are welcome!
Children are welcome in our Sunday School and in the Sanctuary during Sunday service. Sunday School takes place during the first part of the 10:00 a.m. Sunday Service. We are a mix of long-time members, relative newcomers and total “newbies” who are all delighted to see children in church.
“The Peace”: what is it and why is everyone hugging each other?
St. Elizabeth is a little different than more conservative Episcopal parishes in that, when we “exchange the Peace” (greet one another with the Peace of the Lord), many folks will get up out of their seats to say hello to everyone. For some who have been raised in more formal settings, this can be a surprise and may seem much more “friendly” than normal. Don’t feel the need to work the room! Just know that you are welcome!
Episcopal ritual gestures: do what feels comfortable
First-time visitors from other denominations can easily be confused by an Episcopal service: am I supposed to kneel? Sit down? Stand up? Cross myself? Bow when the cross goes by? Genuflect before approaching the altar?
There are reasons for all the ritual. But our general rule is to do what feels comfortable to you. No one will judge you if you don’t know the ritual or the rules, or if you sit while others are standing or kneeling, or vice versa. We’re just happy to have you here and if you’re curious, we can explain the meaning behind all the “ups and downs.”
Joining St. Elizabeth
After getting to know us, if you’d like to become a member, we’d love to have you! Simply let Father John know and he will give you the details about joining the congregation officially, becoming baptised in the Episcopal Church, or transferring membership from another parish.
About the Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church in the United States is a national church under the guidance of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. The Episcopal church is part of the Anglican Communion, one of the world’s largest Christian faith communities, comprising 85 million people in over 165 countries. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is the head of the Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal church, established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Church of England. Anglican worship was first celebrated in North America on the coast near San Francisco, by Sir Francis Drake’s chaplain, in 1579. The first regular worship began in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required.
The first bishop for the new Episcopal Church was consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1784, with two other bishops consecrated by the Church of England after changes in English law. At that point, The Episcopal Church became fully autonomous and soon began to send missionaries to other parts of the Americas and beyond. Today a quarter of the Anglican Communion’s provinces derive at least in part from that missionary work. The Episcopal Church today includes 100 dioceses in the United States, and 12 additional dioceses or jurisdictions in 15 nations in Asia, the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
St. Elizabeth is part of the Diocese of Olympia under the care, guidance and authority of Bishop Gregory Rickel. You can find more at https://ecww.org/.