At St. Peter’s you will experience traditional Anglican worship, following closely the service of Holy Communion according to the Book of Common Prayer (1662).
Our service begins at 10 AM. Most people get there about five or ten minutes early in order to pray quietly and get settled for worship.
After a musical prelude we ring our bell. From the back of the sanctuary the minister reads opening sentences of scripture and invites us to stand for the processional hymn. As we sing the acolyte, carrying a large cross, leads the priest and others who will be part of the service down the center aisle to their places.
Following this hymn the service of Holy Communion begins using the same liturgy that Anglican Christians have been following for nearly 500 years, but whose roots can be traced to the oldest liturgies of the early church.
Ministers and others leading the service will be dressed in robes. If you want more information on that tradition, here is a good article.
The service is divided into two parts.
1) Ministry of the Word: reading Scripture, reciting the Creeds, hearing the Scriptures proclaimed. We also sing short Canticles and responses during this time. Our sermons are usually 15-20 minutes long.
2) Ministry of the Sacrament: confession, assurance of forgiveness, receiving Holy Communion. Between the two parts an offering is collected and we greet one another with a word of peace.
All the components of this service are explained in detail here.
Anglican worship tends to be more interactive and physical than some traditions. We recite prayers and responses, and generally we kneel to pray, stand to praise, and sit to listen. The priest or worship leader gives adequate instructions so even those unfamiliar with our service will know what’s going on.
Anglican Holy Communion is open to all baptized Christians regardless of their denominational affiliation. When it is time to receive the Communion elements we come forward and kneel at the altar rail. We are served a bread wafer and then offered a common cup of wine. We either sip from the cup or dip our wafer in the wine. Gluten free wafers are available. After we have received communion we return to our seats and continue in an attitude of prayer until all have been served.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of how to receive Communion and how it is understood in the Anglican tradition, here is are two very helpful posts.
During Communion if anyone wants to receive prayer for a personal or private concern there is always a prayer minister in the narthex (lobby area) to pray with us.
The service ends at about 11:15 with a recessional hymn.
Our children stay in the service with us, except for those who need to be in the nursery. This is part of our commitment to inter-generational worship. We want all our children to be able to stay quietly in worship with us as much as possible.
Mostly we sing older traditional hymns and a few contemporary chants drawn from the monastic tradition. In all our worship we try to encourage a spirit of joyful gratitude and reverence.
After the service we go downstairs to the fellowship hall for coffee and refreshments. The children are then dismissed for their classes and the adults remain in the main fellowship area for their Adult Education class. Everything wraps up by 12:15.