| Worship at Saint James’ Episcopal Church
Worship at Saint James is corporate. We worship God together. What does that mean? It means we
are not passive participants in the worship of God. Sure, a person could stay seated and quiet
throughout our service, but he would miss out on a great opportunity to participate. We unite our voices
to the glory of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Worship at Saint James needs everyone. Why? Because everyone has a role to play! The clergy
act as masters of ceremonies, or prompts, if you prefer, guiding everyone through prayers and singing.
They teach, preach, and lead everyone in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist (which is why they are
called “celebrants”). The choir supports us all as we sing together. Members of the congregation, called
the laity (or laypersons or laypeople) lead readings from the Bible, and help the clergy by serving as
acolytes, crucifers (cross bearers), and chalice bearers and servers in Holy Communion. Sometimes, a
layperson will speak in place of a sermon by a member of the clergy. At all times, worship is a corporate
and cooperative experience; it is never a “one-man show.”
Worship at Saint James is sacramental. We find our identity rooted in the sacrament of Baptism,
which is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body, the church (BCP 298). So it is we
are sacramental in our worship. Sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace,
given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace (BCP 857). Sacraments are
sure ways we can experience the presence and grace of God. To be sacramental is to be certain that
the grace of God is made present in the world, particularly in worship and the sacraments of Baptism
and Eucharist. Our experience of these sacraments governs our worship and our worldview, since
through them we know God is not distant but present with us in these acts and in the world.
Ancient Rites + Timeless Meaning
Weekly Schedule for
12:00 HE Rite II
(in the Chapel)
8:00am HE Rite I
10:15am HE Rite II
Worship at Saint James is ancient. Our rites, contained in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, have their basis in the oldest rituals of the Christian
Church. We conduct Baptism and Holy Eucharist in a way very similar to how the earliest Christians did. The creeds we recite date to the first few
centuries of Christianity. Morning and Evening Prayer, as well as other devotions, have their roots in monastic prayer that goes back centuries.
Worship at Saint James is timeless. Even with a foundation that is ancient, our worship seeks to meet people right where they are now. A
hallmark of the Anglican tradition is the translation of rites and Holy Scripture into the language of the people, and that continues to this day. Ancient
hymn texts are renewed regularly with fresh musical arrangements, and take their place alongside new hymns. Prayers said for centuries anchor us to
tradition, while the Holy Spirit continues to move us to compose new prayers, some of which are written down and others of which are said
spontaneously. All of this is for the same reason the first Christians lifted their voices in prayer and song: to celebrate the timeless truth of the
crucified and risen Christ from generation to generation.
What You’ll Experience
The ancient rites made new. Enter the church building and you’ll discover a unique space with a long history and a vibrant present. As people
gather for worship, some kneel and pray silently before worship. Others greet one another. Music fills the air. Sunlight fills the space, joyfully colored
by the numerous stained glassed windows. An usher/greeter will offer you a bulletin, which includes an insert of the Holy Scripture to be read in the
service. Settling in your pew, you will notice two other “main ingredients” of our service: the hymnal and the Book of Common Prayer.
Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is a major characteristic of the Anglican/Episcopal tradition, dating to the sixteenth
century. It represents the determination to ensure the words of worship remain accessible to the people as well as the clergy, and a way to easily
unite voices in worship to the glory of God. Two thirds of the Book of Common Prayer are biblical, and the prayerbook includes the entire Book of
Psalms. Worship follows the forms described in the book, and even a newcomer can follow the service with relative ease by following along in the
prayerbook. Also in the book are numerous prayers and thanksgivings, as well as several historical documents of the church. The Book of Common
Prayer is a starting point for our worship together, and although many of our prayers are written down, we do not limit prayer simply to that which is in
Stand. Sit. Kneel. Different parts of the service call for different activities of the people. Generally speaking, we stand for hymns and the reading of
texts from one of the four Gospels, the Peace, and certain prayers. We sit for instruction – i.e. – other Scripture readings, Psalms and the Sermon.
We kneel (knees permitting) for prayer and times of penitence.
Call to worship. The congregation stands and sings the opening hymn as the choir, servers, and clergy enter. A cross leads the procession, a mark
of the crucified and risen savior who leads us all. After the hymn, the celebrant greets the people and offers a prayer to begin the Liturgy of the Word.
Biblical. The Liturgy of the Word is the first main section of a typical Sunday service. It includes prayer, hymns and readings from Holy Scripture.
Normally it includes a reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, and a reading from the New Testament. The Gospel is always read, during which time
the congregation is invited to stand in reverence. A sermon usually follows.
Response to the Word. After the sermon, the congregation recites the Nicene Creed, which is the main statement of faith in the Christian church,
and is said by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Orthodox, Anglicans and Episcopalians, and others the world over. After the creed normally follows
Prayers of the People, during which the congregation is invited to kneel as able. Remaining kneeling, the congregation then says a general
confession of sin together, after which a priest stands and proclaims God’s forgiveness.
The Peace. The congregation stands after the confession/absolution, and the priest announces “The Peace of the Lord be always with you,” to which
the congregation responds, “And also with you.” The people then greet one another in the name of the Lord, often with a handshake or hug. This can
be a noisy but joyful time in church. Those with children in children’s church or the nursery also use this time to gather their children for Holy
Communion. Announcements are also made at this time.
The Great Thanksgiving. We call Holy Communion the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist (literally “Thanksgiving”). The Holy Eucharist is the
sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again. It is our sacrifice of praise
and thanksgiving, and is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself. (BCP, 859)
We believe in the “Real Presence” of Christ in the bread in the wine; we truly encounter Christ in the sacrament of his Body and Blood. However, we
do not have a specific doctrine (like transubstantiation or consubstantiation) as to how Christ becomes truly present.
The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ we share in Holy Communion are the gifts of God for the people of God (BCP 364). Therefore, all are
welcome to receive this holy sacrament at Saint James’ Episcopal Church.
Sending Out. After communion, the priest blesses and dismisses the people. The congregation sings a final hymn as the clergy and choir process
out, again led by the cross. Everyone now is sent out to “do the work [God] has given us to do…as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord” (BCP 366).