Are you thinking about stopping in to join us for service? Here are some helpful tips on what to expect:
What to Wear
What to wear. It depends on what you’re comfortable in. Some people come in their “Sunday best,” while others dress more casually. Jeans and sneakers are okay. We probably do take for granted, though, that you’re going to use good sense in dressing for worship, to show honor in being with a worship community in God’s presence.
Entering the Building
Okay. So now you’ve decided when to come to church and you have a sense for where to go and where to park. You can use either of the entrances to our building. (All entrances are handicap-accessible.) Use the Main Entrance located off of Frankford Avenue.
There an usher will give you a bulletin. The ushers always have a hearty grin, but they won’t make a fuss over never having seen you before. You’ll be welcomed just like everyone else. If you are attending with children, they will also offer you an activity bag. Inside you’ll find coloring books, puzzles, and crayons – we find this sometimes help our more active children transition to the quieter space of church.
Children at Worship
Are you unsure if your children should attend service with you? Relax! We welcome (and encourage!) children of all ages to attend any of our three services. Our most family oriented service takes place on Sunday morning’s, at 10 a.m. This service begins with a ‘Children’s Moment’ where our Rector invites all children to come forward to sit with one another on the altar. The message of the day’s readings, and Gospel, are explained from a children’s point of view, and children are encouraged to participate. Don’t worry – there are no wrong answers. Children return to their seats and remain with us in service until it’s time for Eucharist.
The Worship Service
Once you take a seat in a pew, you’ll see you are facing the altar, which is the visual focus of the worship service. There is a red book and a blue book in front of you. The red book is the Book of Common Prayer. Use the bookmark to mark the page referred to in the bulletin. The blue book is the hymnal. Depending on which service you attend, you may be using the hymnal throughout the service.
Before the service begins, there is time for quiet reflection and prayer. (You may want to turn to page 833 and 834 in the red book for some good prayers you can use.) This is a good opportunity to silence any electronic devices you may have with you (cell phones, tablets, gaming devices). For those with children, you will also find activity bags to help your children transition to the quieter space of church.
You will notice that some people genuflect or bow before they enter their pew. Others do not. That’s one of the first things you notice that’s unique about the Episcopal Church: People aren’t required to conform to certain standards or rituals.
People may notice you’re having trouble following along, but may not ask if you need help. Here’s another thing about Episcopalians: they don’t want to invade your privacy or embarrass you. However, once you ask, they’re absolutely delighted to help! They’ll get you on track, and if you like, they’ll go through the rest of the service with you, step by step.
This would be a good time to talk about our “pew aerobics” in the Episcopal Church. There is standing, sitting and kneeling. The wooden piece at the bottom of the pew in front of you is the kneeler. You can pull it down to kneel on the padded part.
But please put it back up again when you need to move out of the pew. It’s a mighty tight fit to try to walk when that kneeler is down!
We sit to listen. This includes the sermon, which normally lasts around 12 minutes, and Bible passages (except the Gospel).
How We Pray
And we kneel or stand to pray. Some people stand because they prefer it. Some people stand because they can’t handle the physical stress of kneeling. Back problems, knee problems, whatever ails you, if it hurts or is stressful to kneel, then please either stand or sit.
The Collection (Offertory)
At some time during any worship service, there is a collection of money which helps support the work of the church internally and in the community.
At All Saints’ Torresdale, as our guest, you are in no way expected to put anything in the collection plate. In fact, many of our members send in their offerings through the mail, so when the plate comes past them they don’t put anything in. Please, please do not feel an obligation to contribute financially. This is our opportunity to serve you as our guest
Holy Communion (Eucharist)
We need to talk a little bit now about Holy Communion, or what Episcopalians call the Eucharist. We celebrate this at virtually every worship service. During our 10 a.m. service, we invite our children and youth approach the altar together first, They continue to their respective Christian Education (Sunday School) classes until 11:45 a.m.
If you’re looking for a deeper relationship with God, please come forward when the usher invites your pew to go to the communion rail. Don’t worry – if you decide you aren’t ready for this step you can still approach the communion rail. Simply cross your arms over your chest, so the priest and chalice bearer know you wish to receive a blessing instead.
When you receive communion, three things happen for you spiritually. First, your sins are forgiven. Second, this is a strengthening of your relationship with Jesus Christ and with God’s people. And third, this is a preview, if you will, of the great banquet which awaits us in heaven.
Again, if you are unable, for whatever reason, to kneel at the communion rail, stand instead. Many of our members stand because of back problems, knee problems or personal preference.
If you are unable to walk to the communion rail, let your usher know, and the priest and chalice bearer will be delighted to bring the bread and wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, to you in your pew.
After the Service
We conclude the service with a closing hymn which is listed in the bulletin. Many of our members and guests alike continue toward our parish hall following service, aptly named Friendship Hall, to enjoy some coffee and tea, cake and snacks. This time is usually one of our favorites, as we have a chance to talk with one another and get to greet new friends. This activity, often called ‘coffee hour’, takes place after each 10 a.m. service – continue toward the front of the church to your right and you’ll see the doors straight ahead.
If you have questions about what to expect when attending All Saints’ Torresdale, give us a call at 215-637-8787, or drop us an email. We’re thrilled that you’re considering us as your spiritual community, and we pray that God leads you to true joy on your journey.