What does your Sunday worship service look like?
Each Sunday, we prepare a bulletin that contains everything you need for the service, including the text of our liturgy and our hymns. We follow the pattern outlined in The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer: we gather in God’s Name; we proclaim and respond to the Word of God; we pray for the church and for the world; we exchange the Peace; we prepare the Table; we make Eucharist (thanksgiving); we break the bread; and we share the Gifts of God. Interspersed throughout these elements, we unite our voices in song and praise. We use music from a variety of hymnals and resources to experience music in different ways throughout the year. Depending on the season, we incorporate other liturgical elements into the service (for example, the lighting of the Advent wreath during Advent) and utilize some creative adaptations for the way we worship.
Is there a way to participate in worship online?
What should I wear to a worship service?
Our congregation members’ style of dress varies by person and by the time of the year, but largely we’re fairly casual. Most people don’t get too “dressed up”—many wear jeans or casual slacks, and some even wear shorts in summer! Sometimes folks might wear nice dresses and ties on special occasions like Christmas and Easter, but rarely do people wear gloves and hats. We’re more interested in letting you decide how you want to dress to attend church than trying to impose any hard-and-fast rule for it.
When do I bow/kneel/sit?
Our service bulletin will indicate times when it is traditional to sit, stand, or kneel. There’s a saying that we sit to listen, stand to sing, and kneel to pray. There are some variations on that, but most importantly, do what is meaningful and physically doable for you.
Are children welcome at worship? Is there nursery space available?
Children are absolutely welcome at worship! We encourage parents to bring their children and grandchildren to attend the entire service. We strongly believe that children’s attendance during our worship services helps steep them in the prayers and the music, and it teaches them the values of Christianity. There is not a dedicated “nursery” space, but we do have an intergenerational multi-use space where parents can take younger children if they need a more private space for a few moments. In that space, there are some toys available, as well as comfortable seating. If you’d like, please see an usher to be shown the space.
Is there someone available that we can sit with during the service to help us navigate the various parts of the liturgy? Or is there someone we could talk to after the service if we have questions?
We hope that our service bulletin will help steer you through the service. It includes the entire service—all of the prayers and all of the hymns—and even indicates when we sit and stand. If you’d like a more personal experience, speak to an usher and they can help pair you with a long-time member who can help guide you through our worship. If you have questions after the service, please feel free to chat with our pastor, who is always available and excited to help you orient newcomers to our style of worship.
What are sermons like in the Episcopal Church?
Sermons in the Episcopal Church are central to worship services. Typically delivered by clergy, sermons convey biblical teachings, spiritual insights, and practical applications to the congregation. They offer guidance, inspiration, and encouragement, fostering a deeper understanding of faith and strengthening the church community's connection with God. Sermons play a vital role in sharing the Gospel, promoting reflection, and encouraging personal growth among Episcopalians.
What do you believe about Baptism?
In the waters of baptism, we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ. Holy Baptism marks a formal entrance to the congregation and wider Church. All people of any age are welcome to be baptized; we believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins, as the “bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 298).For more information about baptism click here.
Do I have to be baptized to attend a service?
Absolutely not! There are several people at Saint Mark’s who attend simply because they appreciate the community aspect of how we “do” church, because they appreciate the message we preach, or because they are trying something new. Baptism isn’t a requirement to participate in the life of Saint Mark’s in any way—we believe that if you feel called to participate, it’s not up to us to decide how you should do that.
What do you believe about Communion?
Also called Holy Communion, the Eucharist (which literally means “Thanksgiving”), we believe that Christ is fully present in the bread and wine, and that partaking in this special is a way for us to be in communion with God, each other, and all creation. At All Saints, all are welcome to receive Communion at God’s table.
Do I have to be baptized to receive communion? Can I participate in communion if I’m not an Episcopalian?
In The Episcopal Church, baptism is believed to be a prerequisite to receiving communion. However, at Saint Mark’s, no one will ever ask for verification of your baptism or church membership if you come forward to receive communion. As our worship bulletin states, we believe that if it is in your heart to seek God at the Table, then it is in God's heart to meet you there. It doesn’t matter how deep your faith is, which church you belong to, or what religion you’re running away from: You are welcome.
Do you offer gluten-free and alcohol-free options for communion?
Yes. We believe this is a crucial part of being inclusive. There is always a gluten-free option for the bread and an alcohol-free option (usually grape juice) for the cup. Indicate to the minister if that is your preference or requirement and we will be glad to provide you with those options.
Why do some people make the sign of cross on themselves?
This is a gesture that some people find helps them connect physically to prayer, but also to reverence themselves in prayer, but also emphasizes belief in the Holy Trinity. To cross yourself following the Western tradition, lift your right hand and bring it to your forehead. Then touch the center of your chest. Reach over to touch your left shoulder and then back to your right shoulder. For churches in the Eastern tradition, start by touching your forehead and chest in the same way.
Are there opportunities for fellowship after the service?
Currently, members of the congregation host coffee hour once a month, usually following worship on the first Sunday. This changes throughout the year, especially if there are special events. Our primary way of practicing fellowship is through other activities and events, which you can find listed on our News & Events page.
Who do I talk to about a certain ministry? Or: How do I get involved with a certain ministry?
The easiest way to get involved is to discuss your interests with our pastor or one of our lay leaders. They can introduce you to the appropriate person, who can then explore what your opportunities might be.
How do I find the right Episcopal church near me?
This varies according to each person’s needs. No two people have the same desires or hopes for what they’ll get out of a church, and every church offers something different. It’s our opinion that it’s best to do a little research, check our church’s websites (you’re already ahead on this step!), and find one that seems to fit your needs best.
What resources are available for newcomers who want to learn more about the Episcopal faith?
In the future, we plan to offer a “newcomers” lunch, which is an opportunity for people considering joining our congregation to ask questions, meet other members, and explore what it would mean to be a part of Saint Mark’s Church. Apart from that, there is an abundance of information on The Episcopal Church’s website (also under the “The Episcopal Church” tab at the top) which gives you a broad portrait of what makes an Episcopalian unique. If you have specific questions, our pastor would be very pleased to meet with you and share the finer details of who we are, what we believe, and why we call ourselves the “Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.”