Welcome to St. Luke’s!
We hope you will feel that welcome as soon as you come to the block. If there is any reason that you cannot negotiate the few steps into the church’s main entrance, please know that the door at the side of the church is always open; church and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. Throughout your visit, please ask for anything you need. St. Lukers are knowledgeable and glad to help you find your way.
As you enter on a Sunday morning, you will notice an atmosphere of reverence and preparation. Many are involved in setting up and leading worship, and a choir might be rehearsing. Others arrive early to spend time in quiet prayer. Our central focus is the altar, the holy table that faces the front doors, a table to which all are welcome. On or near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the "Light of the world.”
On one side at the front of the church, there is a pulpit, or stand, for the “proclamation of the Word;” here the Scriptures are read and/or the sermon is preached. Restrooms are available by following the side aisle past the pulpit and through the door on your right.
You may sit anywhere you like; there are no reserved seats. Ushers will greet you, hand you a service bulletin, and if you wish will escort you to a pew. If you desire, they will answer your questions about the service. Find a place that is comfortable for you, and make sure that you can see the pulpit and the altar. In the pews you will find the Book of Common Prayer (a small black book with a cross on it), a Hymnal (a reddish colored book with hymns) and Wonder, Love and Praise (an alternative hymnal has a dark green soft cover). Most of the service is printed and explained in a bulletin, provided by the an usher as you enter. Aside from the bulletin, the Hymnal is the resource used most often.
Coming In and Going Out
You may wonder when to stand or kneel. You might see others doing different things before or during the service. It is the custom upon entering church to kneel or sit in one's pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. It is also the custom to bow to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ. Practices vary---even among individual Episcopalians. The bulletin offers general guidance, however, it is more important to care for your body or young children in your care, than to do what the bulletin says (for example sitting to relieve bad knees, standing to stretch your back, sitting so as not to disturb a sleeping child). Please know that as you enter, coloring supplies are available for children, and a pink paper welcomes parents with tips for worshiping with children of all ages. At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others sometimes sit to listen to the organ postlude. As soon as the cross leads the altar party out of the church, some worshipers will depart for their next activity. The priest who preached the sermon will often greet worshipers at the main entrance.
The Worship Service
The principal service is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). At 8:00 am, the service is said simply without music and with a short sermon (reflection). At later services on Sunday mornings or on other great Christian days such as Christmas, music and a sermon are customary. While some parts of the services are always the same, others change. Two or three Bible selections are read by members of the congregation. These passages and readers change each Sunday. So do the psalms. Certain of the prayers also change, in order to provide a variety. The bulletin has all the words, with descriptions, but never be embarrassed to ask your neighbor for help finding your way.
The service begins with praise (singing, prayer). The congregation hears the words of Scripture and is led in a period of reflection upon the meaning of Scripture and worship for our own time and understanding (the sermon). The congregation then stands to celebrate our faith in reciting the Nicene Creed, a collective statement that links us with Anglicans around the world and Christians throughout history. The Creed is followed by announcements that describe how we live our faith through special services of worship, acts of service, or courses of study. Our attempts to understand and live our faith are most successful when we ask for help, and the Prayers of the People do just that. Particular joys and concerns received by the clergy during the week are named, followed by the invitation for worshipers to name their own joys and concerns. You will hear individuals pray for people and communities out loud, while others whisper; many will pray silently before being led in the printed prayers. A prayer of confession recognizes that we all fall short of our own hopes and dreams, and we are absolved or reminded of God’s abundant forgiveness and confidence in our goodness.
The Passing of the Peace is considered by many to be the first action of the Eucharistic Prayer. Preparing for Holy Communion we recognize our neighbors, greeting one another with an outstretched hand or a brief hug, whether we are brand-new or longtime members, and rejoicing in the community of worship where all are welcome and fed.
As the altar is prepared to receive the gifts of bread and wine, the ushers receive the congregation's offering – passing “plates” for gifts of money, some in envelopes and some without, cash and checks, all which supports the church’s ministry on the block and our contribution to the work of the Diocese (please see Giving for more information). All gifts are placed on the altar, sometimes incense is an added sign of our offering and gratitude for all God’s gifts.
The Eucharistic Prayer is both sung and said; the music you need is printed in the bulletin, or if you are not a singer you are welcome to listen or simply stretch your spoken words a bit longer in time with the rest. You will notice that Episcopalian variety continues as some kneel, some stand, some make the sign of the cross a lot, some never do. All are invited to come forward (though no one is required) to receive the bread and wine made holy, or a blessing the priest says while laying a gentle hand on your forehead. Ushers let people know how to come forward.
You Will Not be Embarrassed
When you visit St. Luke’s, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation nor to come forward. You will worship God with us.
Should you wish to know more about St. Luke’s, the Episcopal Church or how one becomes a member, a priest or church member will gladly answer your questions or you may fill out a Welcome Card that you can hand to an usher, a member of the clergy, or mail in or contact us by clicking on the "Get In Touch" button on this page.