We are known as “the friendly little church in the woods”. We hope to help you feel comfortable here, whether you are seeking a spiritual home, are a member of another faith community, or have never been to a church service before. If there’s any way we can make you feel more at home, please do not hesitate to let our Pastor or any member of our community know.
St. Anselm’s offers a variety of opportunities for involvement whether you are seeking spiritualgrowth, are on a healing pilgrimage or want to impact our world by social action.
If you haven’t been to an Anglican Church service – or haven’t been for a long time – you may wonder what to expect on a Sunday morning. St. Anselm’s is very welcoming of newcomers and visitors and we try to make our worship service easy to follow for new people. Our motto is “Wherever you are on your spiritual journey you are welcome here” – and we mean it! We have members who’ve been committed church-going Anglicans for ninety plus years and others who have only just become Christian. It’s not uncommon for us to have people come who have never been in a Christian worship service before. So if you are familiar with Anglican worship you will feel right at home and if you are brand new to Anglican worship we’ll do our best to make you feel welcome and comfortable. During the services the priest will announce page numbers, hymns etc and the order of service you receive when you come in will guide you through the service. It isn’t necessary to be familiar with the service to come and worship with us but some people feel more comfortable if they know what to expect before they come. So if you are one of those people keep reading.
An outline of the Sunday morning service:
Welcome and Coming In
You will probably be welcomed by a greeter when you come in the front door and if you are a first time visitor asked to sign the guest book. You will be given a photocopied order of service (referred to as the ‘bulletin’) that includes much of the wording for the service as well as page numbers for those parts not printed in full in the bulletin. Depending on what songs we are singing that week you might also be given a song book. You will be invited to find yourself a seat. You can sit wherever you feel comfortable – there are no ‘reserved’ pews!
The Service Begins
The service begins when the priest announces the first hymn and everyone (who is able to) stands up to sing. The priest and server will walk in from the back of the church and take their places while this song is being sung. The priest will give some opening words of welcome and we all join in some prayers– all of which is normally printed in the bulletin. The adults are then invited to sit down and the children invited to come to the front of the church for a short children’s talk. After the children’s talk children aged 3 to 12 usually go off to Sunday school (except in summer). Visiting children are welcome to join the Sunday school or they can stay with you. There are also books and toys in the Narthex (the room where you came in) if they get restless. You will still be able to hear the service through the sound system in the Narthex but the children can make noise without disturbing anyone.
We Listen for God Speaking to Us
The service proceeds with some readings from the Bible, another hymn and then the sermon. In our tradition the sermon usually lasts around 12 minutes or so. The sermon is followed by a minute of silent reflection or prayer time.
After the minute of silence the priest invites everyone to stand again and the service usually proceeds with everyone saying together one of the historic creeds (a statement of the basics of the Christian faith written in the 3rd Century). You will then be invited to stand, sit or kneel as a member of the congregation leads a prayer called “The Prayers of the People.” In it we pray for the church, the world, the sick and suffering, those who have died and other matters depending on what is happening in the world and our lives. Usually the priest then leads a short “confession and absolution” where we are encouraged to acknowledge our own brokenness and failings before God and then the priest pronounces God’s forgiveness. The Anglican Church doesn’t dwell on guilt or sin but we do acknowledge it as part of the human condition. This section of the service ends with the passing of the peace. We usually pass the peace by shaking hands with those around us and wishing the person peace.
The Celebration of the Eucharist
This final section of the service begins with another hymn. While we sing the Offertory Hymn we pass offering plates where people place their financial gifts to God. While all gifts are gratefully received, you can pass the plate on without putting anything on it without embarrassment. We take the offering as part of our worship to remind ourselves that we are giving to God for all the blessings that God has given us, and not just the church. We then join in a prayer over the offered gifts and then the priest leads the prayer of consecration over the bread and wine. After saying the Lord’s Prayer together everyone is invited to come forward to have communion (but it’s fine if you wish to remain in the pew, rather than come forward). Just come forward to the front of the church and either kneel at the altar rail or stand (there is a place in the centre without a rail that is convenient to stand). When the priest comes by with the bread (or wafers) just put out your hands ro receive a wafer on your palm. You then can either eat it immediately and then sip the wine when it is offered to you, or hold on to the wafer and dip the edge in the wine when it is offered and eat the wafer then. The bread and wine will be offered to you with a phrase such as ‘the body of Christ which is broken for you’ or ‘the blood of Christ shed for you’. The response is “amen” but you can remain silent if you wish. If you don’t wish to receive communion simply cross your arms over your chest when the priest approaches with the bread and to receive a blessing instead. Once you have received communion you return to your seat. When communion is finished there are some closing prayers, the announcements and a final hymn.
When the service is over everyone is invited to stay for coffee, tea, juice and cookies in the Narthex.