What to Expect
As a parish of The Episcopal Church, Saint Mark's is known as what is called a “liturgical” church. That simply means that our typical pattern of Sunday worship centers around a practice known as the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy Communion, which recalls the Last Supper which Jesus held with his disciples before his crucifixion. The service also invites us to hear a selection of scripture readings, participate in collective prayers, and unite our voices in singing.
The prayers and service are based on the Book of Common Prayer, a fundamental liturgical text used in The Episcopal Church. The book serves as a comprehensive guide for worship, containing a collection of prayers, liturgies, psalms, scripture readings, and religious ceremonies. The Book of Common Prayer also aims to provide a standardized and accessible framework for public worship, ensuring consistency and unity in Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world. Its language is typically formal and traditional, emphasizing reverence and devotion. Over the centuries, the book has undergone revisions and adaptations to accommodate changes in language, culture, and theological perspectives.
While the Book of Common Prayer is available in the pews, we have adopted the practice of printing the entire service for each worshipper as a worship guide. The service bulletin includes printed hymns and allows flexibility to use variations of the intercessory prayers or the appointed scripture reading throughout the year, incorporating inclusive and expansive language when discussing God and all of Creation, as well as allowing flexibility and creativity in our worship.
The Episcopal Church’s liturgical practice includes a variety of movements, gestures, and positions. At various points throughout the service, some people may stand, bow, sit, or kneel. We invite you to participate to whatever degree you can or whish to. It is more important to us that you decide for yourself what you find spiritually meaningful and physically comfortable to participate as fully as you desire.
If you have a background in Roman Catholicism or Lutheranism, you may find the format of the liturgy familiarly comforting. If your experience has been with other Protestant churches, you may find the service different from what you normally encounter, though perhaps you may have occasionally experienced the basic liturgical formula in another tradition. We hope you will feel at ease either way and can experience the service in an open-hearted, open-minded way.