Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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Worship

congregation

 

At the core of who we are—individually and as a congregation—is worship. Worship is the primary way we experience and respond to God’s saving work in history.

Our principal worship service is the Holy Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, or Holy EucharistEucharist is simply the Greek word for 'thanksgiving', and "thanksgiving" is what we do in worship--we give thanks for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. We give our thanks through the singing of hymns, the reading of scripture and its interpretation (sermon), praying for one another and the world, and especially sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ (the bread and wine). 

  

WHAT TO EXPECT 

You'll be welcome

It doesn’t matter if you are a life-long Episcopalian, or are just visiting a church for the first time, we will extend to you a heart-felt greeting and welcome. Those around you will be pleased to assist you in participating in the service and answering any questions you have.

 You’ll be able to follow along

Since the 16th Century, Anglicans/Episcopalians have been using a prayer book, the Book of Common Prayer, to structure our worship and guide our prayers. The latest version, The Book of Common Prayer (1979), which we use at Piedmont, contains prayers as old as the 6th century and as new as the 20th. It gives us the order of service and much of words we say in worship. Some parts of the service—Scripture readings, hymns, sermon, prayers—change each Sunday, but other parts stay pretty much the same. This provides a balance of familiarity and variety.

You’ll be invited to participate

Unlike many other Protestant churches, Episcopal churches encourage and expect the congregation to actively participate in the worship service. Worship is not just what the priest does, but what the entire congregation does. In a way, worship in our church is like putting on a play—we each have a part to play, we each have lines given in the prayer book, and God is both the audience and an active player in the drama. As a first-time visitor, you won’t be expected to perform the leading part, but you will be invited to read along and join in as much as you feel comfortable.

You’ll be Sharing in an Ancient Way of Worshipping

Worship in the Episcopal Church is considered to be “liturgical,” meaning that it involves ritual, or symbolic actions. This is the way the Church has worshipped since its earliest days, using not just sermon and song, but also symbolic acts. For the first-time visitor, this may be exhilarating… or confusing. Our services involve standing, sitting, kneeling, making the sign of the cross, coming forward to the altar for communion and other actions that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes. It’s a way of engaging not just the mind, but the whole body. The general rule is:

  • Stand to sing, to affirm our faith in the Creed, and, out of respect, during the reading of the Gospel lesson. 
  • Sit for instruction, for the reading of Scripture, the sermon, and the choir anthems.
  • Kneel to pray and to receive communion at the altar, to show our gratefulness to God and as an act of humility before God.

You’ll be invited to Go Deeper with Christ

This is true whether it means encountering Jesus for the first time, committing to Him in Baptism, or growing more in the likeness of Jesus, through participation in Holy Communion

Regarding Communion, all baptized Christians—no matter one's age or denomination—who share with us in the belief that Jesus our Lord is truly present to us in His Body and Blood through the bread and wine, are invited to the Lord's table. If you do not share with us in this belief, or have not been baptized, you are invited to come forward to the altar for a blessing.