Worship in the Episcopal Church in the United States began at Jamestown in 1607. The Episcopal Church is a Liturgical church, using various resources as a guide to worship. A part of the worldwide Anglican Communion our liturgy dates back hundreds of years. When you attend a service in an Episcopal church, you will notice several worship resources in use.
The Book of Common Prayer, 1st published in 1549 by The Church of England is one of those resources. The current “BCP” was revised and published in 1979. Each church uses the same readings on the same days in our services which puts our members in communion with each other.
Bible readings are another integral part of worship, The Holy Eucharist, (Communion) and all services. The 1st lesson; Old Testament, 2nd lesson; New Testament and The Holy Gospel are all read in every Episcopal Church, the same readings on the same day as indicated by the Common Lectionary, bringing us into worldwide Communion with all Anglicans. The Lectionary schedules readings for every day of the week throughout the year.
The lessons are usually read by members of the congregation, called Lay Readers. This day Mary Beth Hunter was a reader, Mary Beth also serves on Saint Stephen’s Vestry.
The Holy Gospel is read by the Priest, or if there is a Deacon then they may be assigned that privilege, it is always read by an ordained person. The Gospel book is often brought down to the people and is read among them as The Reverend Brad Laycock, our Interim Rector is doing here.
Then there is the Homily, or commonly called the Sermon, given by a Priest, which expands on the lessons of the day, sometimes clarifying what has been read or sometimes applied to current events. Our church holds that the sermon is a way to open the Word of God and deepen understanding for his people. Fr. Brad as seen here, delivering his Sermon.
Music is another part of the Liturgy and some of the most beautiful hymns in the world can be heard during an Episcopal service. The music is printed in the Hymnal and hymns and chants are all chosen to correspond to the season of the Liturgical year; IE. Lent, Epiphany, and specific holy days such as Christmas and Easter. Some churches will use alternative styles such as contemporary music during a service.
All are welcome at Saint Stephen’s for worship, prayer, fellowship and most importantly, Holy Communion. We look forward to you visiting us, let us know you are here and we’ll “show you around”!
Read more about Episcopal/Anglican worship here: http://www.franciscan-anglican.com/Anglican.htm This is a very complete look at our Liturgical, Sacramental Church. Our Worship can range from what is called, “high church” an Anglo-Catholic service, to “low” church which will have all the liturgical elements but not the splendor of a high Mass.