What to Expect
This is the Lord’s table and all are welcome!
When you arrive on Sunday morning
Come in the main door facing Sligo Avenue, or via the gathering space entrance to the right of the church, or up the accessible ramp around the left side.
When you come in, ushers will give you a bulletin (a booklet that contains everything you need to know to follow the service, including all the readings, prayers, and hymns). If you come in at the side, you will find a stack of bulletins near the door to the church. Take a seat wherever you are comfortable.
The bulletin is also available via a link sent out every week with our online newsletter, the Sweet Spirit Express. Sign up for the Sweet Spirit here.
The service of Holy Eucharist
The service of Holy Eucharist is the main weekly gathering for worship in the Episcopal Church. The Eucharist is also known as Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper.
We celebrate the Eucharist in several styles at different times, with more or less formality, but regardless of the style the service is divided in two parts, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table. The following describes our 10 am Sunday service with music, but the pattern is much the same at other celebrations of the Eucharist.
During the Liturgy of the Word, we hear a reading from the Old Testament, recite or sing a Psalm together, hear one of the Epistles from the New Testament, and then hear the Gospel read. When it is time for the Gospel reading, the Gospel book is processed out from the altar into the midst of the congregation, accompanied by a hymn, with everyone standing.
Then one of the clergy or another preacher offers a sermon related to the readings of the day.
Following the sermon, we say together the Nicene Creed (the common statement of Christian faith dating to the 4th century) or an alternative affirmation of faith. Then we offer the Prayers of the People, praying together for the church, the world, and the special needs and concerns of our community. Then the congregation and clergy say the Confession together and the priest pronounces God’s mercy and forgiveness. The priest then says, “The Peace of the Lord be always with you,” and everyone shares the Peace by greeting one another with a gesture or brief word.
There follow brief announcements and then the Liturgy of the Table.
The Holy Eucharist is when we partake of the Bread and Wine as instructed by Jesus at the Last Supper. At Ascension, everyone is welcome to take Communion. Everyone!
Follow the ushers’ guidance to come up to the altar rail. Kneel or stand as you prefer; the priest will place the bread (a small wafer) in your hand for you to eat and a minister following her will offer the cup of wine. It is absolutely fine to take only the bread and not the wine, which many of us have done during COVID. If you do take the wine, you can help guide the cup to your mouth, or you may dip the wafer in the wine and then eat it.
If you would like to receive a blessing instead of taking Communion, just cross your hands over your chest. It is also fine to remain in your seat.
Throughout the 10 a.m. service, there are hymns and service music, some sung by Ascension’s choir and most by the congregation as a whole. Please join in! All the music is in the bulletin (the service leaflet). We recommend mask-wearing while singing. The 8 a.m. service is a “said” service: it follows the same pattern described above but without music.
Stand, kneel, cross yourself...what are all these movements?
Episcopal worship can seem staid, but it is a full-body experience.
At Ascension, we typically stand to sing hymns; sit for the first and second readings and the Psalm; stand for the Gospel; stand for Liturgy of the Table from the Offertory up through the Invitation; and stand for all communal prayer. The priest will invite the congregation to stand as they are able at these times, so you will have a cue, and you can also just follow along with what people are doing.
Some people choose to kneel for silent prayer when they return to their seats after receiving Communion. People may also cross themselves at various times, for instance, when the Trinity is named and when the priest blesses us. You will see a great variety of practice in the congregation! None of this is required, but you are always welcome to follow along and join in to the extent you feel comfortable.
Children in worship
Kids are always welcome in church! Nursery care and Sunday school are offered from September to May. For more information, click here.
After the service
Most weeks, we gather in the parish hall for refreshments after the 10 a.m. service. Follow the crowd through the door to the right of the altar after the service ends. You can also exit through the main doors to greet the clergy after the service. We’d love it if you’d introduce yourself!
- Restrooms: Accessible, all-gender restrooms are just off the Gathering Space, which is through the door with the EXIT sign over it to the right of the altar as you face the front of the church. There are also restrooms on the lower level.
- Masks: Masks are optional in church but recommended while singing.
- Livestream: The 10 a.m. service is livestreamed on YouTube, but the cameras remain focused on the altar, not the congregation, and you will not be seen on camera during Communion. View previous services to see what our worship is like at the Ascension YouTube channel.