Why would I want to become an Episcopalian?
A brief video of our Presiding Bishop suggesting why you would want to join us!
I grew up Roman Catholic. How is the Episcopal Church different?
Our service or Mass itself is actually very similar. We celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, and everyone is welcome to receive, from youngest to oldest. The Episcopal Church does not offer a rite of “First Communion” because we believe it is a blessing for children to remember being included in every aspect of church for their whole lives — we all understand communion in different ways as we learn and grow, but Jesus is always present for us in the sacrament.
I’m planning on visiting Trinity. May I take communion in your church?
Please know that ALL are welcome to receive communion at Trinity. In the Episcopal Church, we believe that all Christians, including children are welcome to share at Gods table. You may also request a blessing at the altar rail instead of receiving communion. Your own denomination may have some restrictions on where you may or may not commune however.
I am handicapped and am unable to walk to the Altar to receive communion. Can I still receive communion?
Of course, simply tell the usher or someone near you who is going to the Altar to have the Rector bring the bread and the wine to you.
Why does everyone get out of his or her pew and walk around during peace?
When the priest says, “The peace of the Lord be with you,” we really mean it! We have a very vibrant time when we pass the peace. In the liturgy, this is the time after the confession of sin when we celebrate that we are reconciled to God and each other with Christ. It’s fine to let others come to you or hold back until you feel more comfortable.
I’d love to come to church, but my kids have a hard time sitting still.
There is plenty of room for kids to wiggle. Our Sunday School programs and Nursery are scheduled during the service so the kids can learn at their own level before joining us for Communion, but they are also very welcome to be in church. If your child is screaming at the top of their lungs, it might be a good idea to check out the bulletin board in the parish hall, but rest assured that the little squeals and toys getting dropped are noises we can handle. Trinity offers professionally staffed child care beginning at 9 a.m. on Sundays so that parents may attend mass. Coffee Hour after the service is a fun time open to all, especially children!
Is the Episcopal Church Protestant or Catholic? Or Protestant and Catholic?
Both, Neither, Either! Anglicanism is often referred to as a “bridge tradition.” We stand squarely in the Reformed tradition, yet considers ourself as directly descended from the Early Church as the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. In Greek, the word “Catholic” means “universal.” “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi,” which in Latin means, “the rule of prayer is the rule of belief.” We find our unity in common prayer, not conformity to a certain set of doctrines. We articulate our faith in the historic Nicene Creed each Sunday, but there are many ways to understand the Christian faith as it is presented in that text.
How can I learn more about Episcopal worship practices?
The best way to learn more about our worship practices is to look through a copy of the Book of Common Prayer. These can typically be found in the pews in every Episcopal Church, and no one is likely to mind if you drop by to peruse a copy or borrow one.
How is the church governed?
In an established, self-sustaining congregation or parish, day-to-day matters are handled by a panel of elected lay people called a “vestry.” The head priest, or rector, handles spiritual and worship-related matters, and usually serves in an advisory capacity on church committees. Depending on the size of the congregation, the rector may have one or several ordained assistants, sometimes referred to as curates. Often there will be other lay or ordained people in charge of specific areas, such as a music director or a Sexton (the person who handles physical maintenance of the church building and grounds). Churches that are not self-sustaining are called “missions.” Often they are newly formed congregations, or congregations with a very small membership. These churches are administered by the bishop’s office. The head priest of a mission is called a Vicar because he or she serves as the bishop’s representative. All individual congregations are part of a larger geographical area called a diocese, which is lead by a bishop. The Episcopal Church does not have archdioceses or archbishops. Instead we give primacy to a Presiding Bishop who is elected to serve a nine-year term
What is the significance of the Episcopal Seal (“The Shield”) and Flag?
This symbol, which you will see at virtually every Episcopal Church and web site, is the official logo of ECUSA, and depicts our history. It is red, white and blue…the colors of both the U.S. and England. The red Cross of St. George on a white field is symbolic of the Church of England. The blue field in the upper left corner is the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. It features a Cross of St. Andrew, in recognition of the fact that the first American bishop was consecrated in Scotland. This cross is made up of nine crosslets, which represent the nine dioceses that met in Philadelphia in 1789 to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. Does the Episcopal Church ordain women to the clergy? Yes. The Episcopal Church has ordained women to all orders of ministry since 1976.
How do I join the Episcopal Church? Do I need to be confirmed?
If you are coming from a church in the Apostolic Succession (i.e., Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox), and have already been confirmed, you would be “received” by the bishop of your diocese, in a ceremony that normally takes place during the bishop’s visit to your church. If you are coming from a different tradition, confirmation would be appropriate. Trinity will hold periodic inquirer’s courses for people interested in reception or confirmation prior to the bishop’s visitation. You will want to speak to the priest if you are interested. Note that confirmation or reception is NOT necessary before you can take communion, or participate in the life of the church.
I have already been baptized in another church. If I become an Episcopalian, do I need to be re-baptized?
No. “We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” Once you have been baptized with water, in the name of the Trinity, you have been received by adoption into the family of Christ (not into a particular denomination) and that need not…in fact, should not…be repeated. This is true even if you were a tiny baby when you were baptized. If you wish to make a public, adult, affirmation of faith, you may choose to be confirmed, if appropriate. You also always have the option of publicly reaffirming your baptismal vows, even after confirmation, if you so choose, but this is a highly personal matter, and not in any way required.
When do I stand, sit, or kneel during worship?
Specific instructions are in the rubrics (directions) of the Book of Common Prayer; but in general: We stand when we sing, praise, or read the Gospel, we sit during all other Bible readings and during the Sermon. We kneel to pray. During the blessing of the bread and wine at communion (The Eucharistic Prayer), either standing or kneeling is fine. If your not sure, just follow the example of the people around you. If you are unable to stand or kneel for long periods of time, please feel free to remain seated.
Do I have to pay anything to go to church?
There is no “fee” to attend church, but an Offertory is taken as part of the service. This passing of the plate combined with our annual pledges are what keep Trinity functioning and alive. This money goes towards maintaining the building, paying our rector and staff, and stocking administrative and liturgical supplies. Most ongoing members of Trinity are Pledging members, supporting Trinity with their time and talent as well as their treasure. To request a pledge booklet, please speak to our treasurer.
Is there anything in the Episcopal service which may embarrass me?
During the announcements, the Rector may welcome visitors to the church, but not at Trinity. You will never be singled out or asked to come forward or speak up for any reason at an Episcopal Service. If we are doing our job to be a welcoming community, people may introduce themselves to you and invite you to coffee after worship. We hope that this honest warm welcome will make you feel part of the community.