What should you expect when you visit Epiphany Episcopal Church for the first time?
We are all one body in Christ, but with many faces. We come from diverse “social locations” and we seek to grow together into a powerful expression of the richness that is the “kin-dom of God”. While age, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, ability, and political perspective can be divisive in community, we celebrate that diversity and we are growing together as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Some of us are lifelong Episcopalians, but many of us have found our home in the Episcopal Church after years of seeking. Epiphany is a place where you can feel welcomed and known. God loves you and you are welcome at Christ’s table.
If you have any special needs or questions about attending worship or any other event at Epiphany, please feel free to contact us.
When You Arrive
When you walk through our doors, an usher will greet you and hand you a service leaflet, including a printed guide to our worship/liturgy (Greek for “work of the people”). There is no assigned or reserved seating, so come on in and sit wherever you like. You might not want to sit in the chairs up around the altar (where the clergy and lay ministers sit). If you do, we may expect you to help lead worship. We’re only kidding, of course. At the 10:00 a.m. service, you might notice the choir, acolytes, and some clergy members gathered around the organ at the back of the worship space as a musical prelude is played. At the opening hymn, the congregration stands, and our liturgy begins.
Your children are welcome in our Sunday School program, YME (Youth Ministry at Epiphany) or in our nursery. The ushers will be happy to direct you. You can find out more about our children’s ministries, including Sunday School, here.
During the Service
You will notice that people sit, stand, or kneel at different times during the service. Feel free to follow along, or not, whatever you prefer. The service leaflet offers clear instruction, but you may disregard it and allow the congregation to carry you as you become comfortable with the ebb and flow of the worship experience. There are hymnals in every pew, as well as copies of the Book of Common Prayer. We invite you to complete one of the informational cards and return it to us, so that we can be in touch with you.
Many of us have come to the Episcopal church from other denominations, or from no church background at all. The service might seem familiar to you; it may feel totally new to you. However you experience worship, know that we are glad to have you here, and we look forward to getting to know you.
How We Celebrate Communion
Holy Communion, sometimes called Eucharist, or the Great Thanksgiving, the Divine Liturgy, or the Mass, is central to our worship. Unlike some Christian churches, we celebrate Holy Communion every week. It is a time when we are fed by Christ, given bread for our journey, when He gives Himself completely to us in the sacramental form of bread and wine. This is the banquet that God has prepared for all of us. The altar is God’s table, and if you are hungry, if you are seeking that <em>something more</em>, we invite you to receive communion. <strong>All are welcome at God’s table.</strong>
The congregation files forward, pew by pew, to the altar to receive the bread and wine. Both the bulletin and the ushers will invite you at the appointed time to come forward to receive communion. If you prefer, you and your children may receive a blessing instead of the bread and wine by simply crossing your arms across your chest. There are two main ways to receive bread and wine. One is by drinking from the common cup. The other is called “intinction”, which means that you dip the bread or wafer into the wine and eat it, rather than drinking directly from the cup. Either way is acceptable.
Gluten-free bread is available. Simply request it when you come forward. If, for any reason, you would rather not have wine (or bread), know that by receiving the bread (or wine), you have received communion. We call this receiving in “one kind”. If you would rather not participate in communion, simply remain seated in your pew. We understand that our faith journeys are individual and unique, and no one will pressure you to participate beyond your comfort level.
Epiphany is a place of healing for many. Personal prayers for healing (for yourself or others) through the laying-on-of-hands are available on either side of the altar during communion. You may also submit a prayer request by contacting the church office.
Our Worship Service Structure
In the Book of Common Prayer, our entire worship service is entitled The Holy Eucharist. The first part of the service is called The Word of God. It usually includes an opening hymn, readings from the Bible, the sermon, the Nicene Creed, the Prayers of the People, the Confession of Sin and Absolution, and Passing the Peace.
The second portion of the service is entitled The Holy Communion. It includes the offertory, the consecration of bread and wine, the partaking of bread and wine by the people, and the concluding prayers of Thanksgiving and Dismissal. At Epiphany, we often use prayers from the authorized supplemental text Enriching Our Worship, which offers more inclusive and expansive language when referring to God and God’s people. If you’d like to learn more about worship or anything else about the Episcopal Church, we offer classes through out the year, and you are welcome to contact our clergy directly.
If you need any assistance during the worship service, our ushers are more than happy to help you.
You can find more information about Holy Communion and our worship at The Episcopal Church.
Whether you are coming from Timonium, Cockeysville, Towson, Baltimore, or from out-of-town, we hope you’ll stay and be our guest for coffee hour after the 10:00 service. We’d love to meet you.