Come for a Visit
Find a church in your neighborhood using either the Google map or your zip code or this link to Find a Church. Worship times will be listed on the church’s website. If a church has more than one service on a Sunday, usually the earliest service does not include music while the later service has hymns and perhaps a choir. Some of our churches have a Saturday or Sunday afternoon service which tend to be more informal and may have contemporary music. There are many worship styles in our diocese. Try different services at several churches to find one that is most comfortable for you. Some services will be traditional, while others may be more contemporary. But they will all follow the worship services outlined in the Book of Common Prayer.
What to Wear Come as you are! Dress for Sunday morning services ranges from informal, to casual or business casual. All are welcome.
What To Expect Find a place to sit in any pew or chair. In larger churches, an usher may help you find a seat. Some congregations print the entire worship service in a leaflet that is handed out at the door. Other places have a leaflet that lists only the pages of the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal so you can follow along in those books. The service is in two parts: the Liturgy of the Word which includes Scripture readings, a sermon and prayers. The second part is the Great Thanksgiving during which bread and wine are consecrated for the Holy Communion. Whether to kneel, sit or stand, can be a bit of a puzzle for newcomers (and often for Episcopalians visiting a different church). The Book of Common Prayer provides a framework, but not a rigid one. The details vary from church to church and are a matter of tradition and taste. One church may begin with a more or less elaborate procession of priest(s), acolytes and choir, and in another with the priest standing on the steps in front of the altar. But because the essential form of the service remains the same from one Sunday to the next, one soon will begin to experience what Episcopalians find so satisfying: the mental space that the familiar rhythm opens up in which each person can commune more profoundly with God.
The Book of Common Prayer is at the heart of all Episcopal worship, and within it, the principal weekly service is the Holy Eucharist—also known as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Mass. For each Christian season, the Book of Common Prayer lays out the form of the service and provides the text for many of the prayers. A calendar Scripture readings, called the “Lectionary,” indicates biblical passages to be read each day. These are the same throughout the Episcopal Church, so any given day, someone around the clock and around the globe will be reading the same Scripture. Typical services include scripture readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. The congregation participates in worship—singing hymns and saying the prayers, the Creed (a statement of our beliefs), responding and reading or singing the Psalms (sacred poems).
At the time of Communion all baptized Christians are welcome to receive the bread and wine. If you are not baptized, or you prefer not to receive the Sacrament, you can come forward at the time of communion and receive a blessing from the priest. Simply cross your arms across your breast to indicate that your prefer a blessing.
Coffee Hour is held at most churches on Sunday mornings. It is usually after the service or in-between services if there are multiple services. It is a time for introduction, fellowship, coffee and discussion.
Some churches offer adult education and Sunday school for children Programs vary depending on the congregation. Some churches have weekly classes for children that meet before, during or after the liturgy. Adults may engage in structured classes, book discussion or informal conversation on a particular topic. Contact your local church for details about their education programs.
Fill out a visitor’s card. This way a church can have your contact information and send you the latest news. If you would like to have a visit from a priest, note that on the card.
Episcopalians in Rhode Island infuse their services with their own traditions. Some congregations include elements from around the world which gives them a unique character. They lift up their voices in Spanish and English and use a multitude of rhythms from contemporary to traditional choirs. We have profiled many of our congregations in our eNews; you can find links to those profiles here. Visit a church and find the one that is right for you.