What to Expect When You Visit an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Texas
One of the great aspects of Texas in general is the enormous variety of peoples and cultures to be found. This is reflected, not only in the membership of our Episcopal churches, but in the richly diverse ways in which our members worship each Sunday and on special occasions throughout the year.
At the heart of all Episcopal worship is the Book of Common Prayer, and within it, the principal weekly service is the Holy Eucharist—also known as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper or Mass.
For each Christian season, the Book of Common Prayer lays out the form of the service and provides the text for many of the prayers. A calendar Scripture readings, called the “Lectionary,” indicates biblical passages to be read each day. These are the same throughout the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, so any given day, someone around the clock and around the globe will be reading the same Scripture. Typical services include scripture readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. The congregation participates in worship—singing hymns and saying the prayers, the Creed (a statement of our beliefs), responding and reading or singing the Psalms (sacred poems).
Whether to kneel, sit or stand, say “Amen,” sing or respond can be a bit of a puzzle for newcomers (and often for Episcopalians visiting a different church). But because the essential form of the service remains the same from one Sunday to the next, one soon will begin to experience what Episcopalians find so satisfying: the mental space that the familiar rhythm opens up in which each person can commune more profoundly with God.
The Book of Common Prayer provides a framework, but not a rigid one. The details vary from church to church and are a matter of tradition and taste. One church may begin with a more or less elaborate procession of priest(s), acolytes and choir, and in another with the priest standing on the steps in front of the altar. Texas’ Episcopalians infuse their services with their own traditions from around the world and give each of them a unique character. They lift up their voices in Spanish and English, Ibo and Portuguese, and use a multitude of rhythms from jazz to traditional choirs.
Even within a congregation, worship services can be offered in a range of styles from contemporary to more traditional. Come join us, won’t you?