What to expect
This page is your guide to visiting our Church. Most importantly, remember this: you will be made very welcome. We extend a cordial welcome to you to worship with us, and offer this as a brief introduction to our Church and its customs.
The Place of Worship
As you enter, you will notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. Anglican Churches are built in many architectural styles, but whether the Church be small or large, elaborate or plain, your eye will focus on the front of the Church where you will see the altar, or holy table, and to the cross. We are reminded at once that we are in God’s house. On and near the altar there are candles to remind us that Christ is the “Light of the World” (John 8:12). Usually there are flowers, to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus. On the left hand side at the front of the Church, there is a lectern for the proclamation of the Word; here the Scriptures are read. On the right hand side is the pulpit and the sermon is preached from here.
The Act of Worship
As you enter you will be provided with a service booklet, a hymn book and a weeksheet. Large print copies are available if required. The service booklet contains the words spoken by the priest and by the congregation.
You may be worried about when to stand, sit or kneel, or if to bow, genuflect or cross yourself. Please don’t worry as practices vary, even among individual Anglicans. The general rule is we stand to sing hymns, to say our affirmation of faith (the Creed) and for the reading of the Gospel in the Holy Eucharist. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. We stand or kneel for prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as children or as an act of humility before God. Many people find kneeling for any length of time difficult or uncomfortable and sit with bowed head instead.
The Regular Services
The principal service is the Eucharist (also called Holy Communion). We celebrate this every day of the week, except Saturday, at St Annes Parish Church. On Sunday the Eucharist is celebrated with choir and organ. Our weekday celebrations are usually without music.
While some parts of the services are always the same, others change. At the Holy Eucharist, for example, two or three bible selections are read. These change each Sunday and are printed in the weeksheet. Hymn numbers are also printed in the weeksheet and are displayed on hymn boards around the Church. If you get lost, please do not be embarrassed, just ask the person next to you for help.
In the middle of the service we “share the peace” where it is customary to shake hands with those around you and say “peace be with you”. This is indicated by the Vicar saying “Let us offer one another the sign of peace”. A collection is normally taken during Sunday services (during the offertory hymn). Towards the end of the service people go forward to receive the Eucharist (bread and wine). If you are a confirmed member of a Christian Church, you are welcome to receive the Eucharist with us. Otherwise please feel free to come forward carrying your service booklet and the priest will give you God’s blessing. You can also stay in your seat if you would prefer not to come forward.
We hope you will find our services beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centred and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.
Before and After
It is the custom upon entering church to kneel in one’s pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. Many people also bow or genuflect to the altar on entering and leaving their pew as an act of reverence to Christ.
We try to use the time in Church before a service as a time for personal meditation and devotion. At the end of the service some people may also choose to kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Our main Sunday service is usually followed by coffee either at the back of Church or in the Parish Rooms; we would be delighted if you would join us.
Coming and Going
When you arrive there will be welcomers (called sidesmen/women) to greet you, provide you with a service booklet and hymn book, and answer any questions you may have. Please ask them for help if you need it. Pews are usually unreserved so please sit wherever you like. Following the service the priest usually speaks to the members of the congregation by the door as they leave.
What Clergy Wear
To signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers customarily wear special clothes called vestments. The usual vestment is the alb, a white tunic with sleeves that covers the body from neck to ankles. These are worn by the priests and altar servers. At the Holy Eucharist the leading priest usually wears a chasuble (a circular garment that envelopes the body) over the alb. Assisting priests wear a stole, a narrow band of coloured fabric around their neck. Stoles, chasubles, as well as altar coverings, are usually made of rich fabrics. Their colour changes with the seasons and holy days of the Church year. The most frequently used colours are white, red, purple, green and gold. Choir vestments consist of a blue undergown called a cassock and a white, gathered overgown called a surplice.
The Church Year
The Anglican Church observes the traditional Christian calendar. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for Christmas, begins on the Sunday closest to November 30. The Christmas season lasts twelve days, after which we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany on January 6.
Lent, the forty days of preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. The Easter season lasts fifty days, concluding on the feast of Pentecost.
Bible readings are chosen for their appropriateness to the season.
You Will Not Be Embarrassed
When you visit our Church, you will be our respected and welcomed guest. You will not be singled out in an embarrassing way, nor asked to stand before the congregation. You will worship God with us. Should you wish to know more about our Church or the Christian faith, please arrange a meeting with a priest.
An independent view
Thank you to “Chris Teean” for a lovely review of our Church. You can read all about it here on the Ship of Fools website.