Planning Your First Visit
The first time visiting a new church can be intimidating especially if it is your first time attending an Episcopal worship service. The room is full of people whom all seem to know each other an know precisely when to stand, sit, or kneel. Please remember, you are all always welcome at St. Paul’s. The following page is hopefully able to prepare you for your visit and help you relax upon arrival.
What Can i expect?
St. Paul’s offers four regularly scheduled worship services during the week. The Wednesday 12:30 pm service, Friday 5:30 pm, and Saturday 8:00 service is all small and intimate gatherings held in the Grace Chapel. The Grace Chapel is a beautiful location to quietly contemplate and worship, there is no choir or musical accompanist during these services.
The Sunday 10:30 am program is a much larger worship service held in the large rectory. During the 10:30 am service the St. Paul’s Choir performs along with an organist. This service is generally the one most families attend with children. There is a nursery available during this service, as well as “quiet packs" containing washable markers, a few plush toys, or books to help children stay entertained during the ceremony. The nursery is entirely optional, and St. Paul’s welcomes the sounds of children during its worship. Some of the highest expressions of joy within worship at St. Paul’s have come from children’s interaction during the liturgy.
There are always greeters during the 10:30 am service who will offer a program that can help you work through the liturgy or answer questions, please introduce yourself and do not be afraid to let them know it is your first visit to St. Paul’s.
Additionally, feel free to seek out any many of the St. Paul’s Vestry to answer questions, help find the nursery or restrooms, or have someone to sit with during the service
gathering (Finding St. Paul’s and before the worship)
St. Paul’s is located near downtown Salt Lake and is within walking distance of the 900 East Trax stop along the Red Line as well as the UTA 209 bus. If you are driving the St. Paul’s parking lot is across the street from St. Paul’s on 900 East. There is generally ample street parking along 900 East and 400 South; additionally parking is allowed at the Inter-mountain Healthcare building during the 10:30 am service just a short walk from St. Paul’s.
Once inside the chapel, you are welcome to sit anywhere. A greeter will offer you a program leaflet that can help you follow along with the service, as well as give information about upcoming events at St. Paul’s. When you sit in a pew there will be two books in front of you, the blue book is a Hymnal with words and music for the congregational singing, and the other is the Book of Common Prayer (prayerbook or BCP). The BCP is where various portions of the service are from, for the most part, those parts are also in the program, and any time the BCP is referenced the speaker will announce a page number to the congregation.
The 10:30 am service begins with a procession led by the acolytes, and containing the St. Paul’s Clergy and Choir; parishioners stand and sing during this part of the service. At the conclusion of the procession, the priest does a formal welcome and opening of the service.
After the announcements, the communion begins. In the Episcopal Church, the fellowship is the center of the worship service. At the start of the Eucharist is the offertory, during this parishioners pass a plate to collect offerings. Any amount of donation amount is appreciated, as is contributing nothing at all. Many parishioners make contributions through a debit card or by devoting time to sustaining the church, and thus put nothing in the offertory plate on Sundays. At St. Paul’s during the offerings as well as contributions to our Pantry are carried to the Altar Table at the front of the chapel as acolytes and clergy set the table for communion (sacrament, Lord’s Supper).
The priest then says an extended prayer including dialogue between the assembly and the priest. Preparation for receiving communion includes singing and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by the congregation. The congregation generally stands during the entirety of the Eucharistic Prayer. Following the Lord’s Prayer, the priest breaks the bread and invites the group to “dine at the Lord's table” where all are welcome.
At St. Paul’s all are welcome to receive communion, including children. The fellowship consists of bread (wafers) and wine. The communion is complete in either the bread or wine and thus the wine is not required. Gluten-free wafers are available, just let the priest know when you go to receive communion. If you do not wish to receive communion that is fine, you can remain in your seat or come forward for fellowship with your arms across your, and the priest will offer you a blessing.
If you do wish to receive communion, wait until an usher approaches your row of pews and indicates it is now your turn to approach the altar. At St. Paul’s you can either step up to the platform kneel to receive communion or there is an option to take communion at the baptistry just the right of the steps. To take communion cup your hands and the priest will place a wafer and offer a blessing. You are welcome to eat the wafer then or wait for the wine. A Eucharistic minister will then put a cup of wine in front of you, you may drink from the cup or lightly dip your wafer in the wine. Following communion return to your seat and enjoy the music.
At the end of the communion, the congregation stands and sings a concluding hymn as the procession exits the chapel. At the final moment, the priest releases the congregation to ‘Go forth and love and serve Lord.” The congregation generally says a join “Hallelujah.”
Following the 10:30 service everyone is welcome to meet in the Parish Hall and enjoy the coffee hour. Coffee hour is one of the best places to meet the St. Paul’s community and enjoy a light refreshment before heading home.
If you have any other questions or if there is anything else we can do to make your visit enjoyable please feel free to contact us.
Readings and Prayer
Each liturgy contains readings from the Old Testament, Epistles, and the Gospels. There also a Psalm at each service that is either read to the congregation or sung in a response style called “antiphonal.”
Because the gospels are central to our faith, the Gospel reading is different from the other biblical passages. A hymn is sung by the congregation, and the Bible is brought to the center of the church and read by either the priest or assisting priest. Following the gospel reading the priest gives their sermon, typically based on the day’s readings and how those lessons and philosophies apply to our daily lives.
Following the sermon, the congregation typically recites the words of the Nicene Creed. Then a series of prayers, called Prayers of the People< led by a member of the group as a way of being mindful of all that we have, and to remember those in need. Some Episcopal congregations kneel during this portion of the service. Typically, at St. Paul’s the congregation stands, but you are welcome to participate however you wish. After the Prayer of the People the priest leads the congregation in a Confession where worshipers silently reflect on ways they have fallen short and renew their commitment to showing their love for God and fellow people.
The Peace is the offered to the congregation. Worshipers then great each other and shake hands, hug, or wave while saying wishing one another ‘peace be with you”. The Peace is typically one of the more awkward moments for new attendees because everyone is greeting one another and moving around the chapel. You can welcome those seated near you and are in no way expected to greet everyone in the chapel.
Announcements and a birthday\anniversary prayers follow the Peace as a way to update the congregation and celebrate milestones.