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How We Worship

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How We Worship 2017-06-29T17:04:50+00:00

Episcopal Worship

“O Almighty God, who pours out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and of supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections we may worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

-Prayer Before Worship, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 833

 Worship is the primary activity of Christians.

We worship God because of who God is and what God has done for us.  As Revelation 4:11 says, “O Lord our God, you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power; because you have created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be “liturgical,” meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the worshippers.

For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating or confusing.  Services may involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor.  However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.

All the major worship services in the Episcopal Church, including the service of Holy Eucharist, are contained in our Book of Common Prayer.  This practice of bringing together all the worship services in one book dates from 1549.  The Book of Common Prayer that Episcopalians use today is from 1979.

At Leeds, copies of the prayer book (the black book) can be found in the pews, which we use each week at our 8 AM Eucharist.  At the 10:30 Eucharist, the liturgy and all the music is included in the worship bulletin.

-This material is adapted from The Episcopal Church’s Visitors’ Center

On Sunday mornings at 8 AM and 10:30, we celebrate the Holy Eucharist at Leeds Church.  Although it is single service, the Holy Eucharist is composed of two distinct parts.

Part One:  The Liturgy of the Word

We begin by praising God through song and prayer, and then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and (always) a reading from the Gospels.  The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation.

Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached.

The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since.

Next, the congregation prays together for the Church, the World, and those in need.  We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead.  The priest concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession.

In most seasons of the Church year, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another.  This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution.  In pronouncing absolution, the priest assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.

The congregation then greets one another with a sign of “peace,” which is usually a handshake or a hug.

Part Two:  The Liturgy of the Table or Holy Communion

Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.”  Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the priest tells the story of our faith, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from God, and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the priest tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (Holy Communion) as a continual remembrance of him.

The priest blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer.  Finally, the priest breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the gifts of God for the People of God.

The congregation then shares the consecrated bread and the wine.  Sometimes the people all come forward to receive the bread and wine; sometimes they pass the elements around in other ways.

All baptized Christians, no matter age or denomination, are welcome to receive communion. Episcopalians invite all baptized people to receive, not because we take the Eucharist lightly, but because we take our baptism so seriously.

Visitors who are not baptized Christians are welcome to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the priest.

At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the World.

-This material is adapted from The Episcopal Church’s Visitors’ Center

Our Worship Ministries

Altar Guild 

This group is composed of those persons who prepare the church for worship. They arrange the altar and sanctuary for the Holy Eucharist or another order of worship. They also care for vessels, linens, hangings, and flowers. Karen McKnew and Sally Shoemaker are the co-chairs of the Altar Guild.

Chalicists

Every Sunday at both worship services, when the congregation comes to the altar to receive the bread and wine during Holy Communion, the priest administers the bread and the chalicist administers the cup.  Along with the priest, the chalicist thus enables worshippers to partake of the Real Presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Acolytes

Starting around age 10, the young people of Leeds are invited and encouraged to serve as acolytes in our Sunday worship services. Acolytes assist the clergy and other worship assistants in the leadership of the service in a variety of ways.

Children’s Choir

The Leeds Children’s Choir occasionally sings the offertory anthem at the children’s service, which usually takes the place of the regular 10:30 AM Holy Eucharist once a mont

Adult Choir

The Leeds Church Adult Choir leads the congregational singing each week at the 10:30 AM Holy Eucharist, as well as at other special and seasonal services.  During the offertory, they occasionally sing a special anthem.  In addition to parishioners, the Adult Choir is composed of student singers from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester.  The Adult Choir is directed by Fred Clyne, our organist.

Intercessors

Every Sunday at both worship services, a member of the congregation serves as the intercessor.  The intercessor’s role is to lead the prayers of the people.  In this way, he or she offers prayers to God on behalf of the congregation.

Greeters

The ministry of a greeter is hospitality.  He or she greets worshippers as they arrive, provides them with a service bulletin, and helps them find a seat if needed. They also direct newcomers and visitors to the nursery and Sunday School.  Finally, during the service, they collect the monetary gifts and the bread/wine, which the congregation offers in thanks for God’s many blessings.

Lectors

Lectors read the Word of God in our worship services.  Sometimes they lead the congregation in reciting the appointed psalm.  They are people who are comfortable with public speaking.

Interested in serving in one of our worship ministries?

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