How Services Are Conducted
prepared by the Vestry in May, 2012
In the Episcopal Church, The Book of Common Prayer gives a framework for what is to be done at every service.
There are services which must be conducted by an ordained minister. Examples of these are Holy Communion, Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, and The Burial of the Dead.
However, many of the services of the prayer book may be done in the privacy of one's home or in community, perhaps in church. These services include The Daily Office; Morning, Noon Day and Evening Prayer, as well as Compline at the end of the day. All of these services have designated moments for Bible Readings, as well as hymns and other forms of praise. The Psaltery, as well as individual prayers for any occasion, are also to be found in the prayer book, and are to be used in conjunction with any service throughout this book.
We use The Book of Common Prayer at SsAM. In this book are instructions as to how the aforementioned services are to be conducted during the liturgical seasons of the year, starting with Advent, and continuing with Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost, as well as on Saints' Days throughout the year. Colors of vestments and church hangings for the various seasons are all determined. A lectionary of Old and New Testament readings is given.
The Episcopal Church of Sts Andrew and Matthew follows prayer book liturgy. Worship in private in homes and in community at church is encouraged. However, within the parameters of the prayer book, we have found a way to use liturgy that is unique. At our 10:30 a.m. service, we use music of all kinds to express the feeling of each season. Our talented organist, choir director and choir combine to bring together a blend of traditional hymns, spirituals, jazz, Anglican Chant, Taize, as well as Native American and other ethnic music.
In addition, special Sundays have been designated and celebrated in a way that is not common to every Episcopal Church. The Season of Creation, a series of seven Sundays in the fall of the year, is a time for us to celebrate the fact that we have a relationship with the planet on which we live and a responsibility to it. During that time, especially, we use lessons from writers other than those from the Bible to express messages that we wish to impart. Carnival Sunday, the Sunday before Lent, is another special day at SsAM. At the 10:30 a.m. service, we celebrate with masks, beads and colorful garb before the somber days of Lent. (Click here to see photos.) There are times when incense is used, and services are said and sung with much ceremony. There are other times when services are said as simply as possible. It is for the individual to decide what is right for him or her, depending upon the need or desire at the time. This entire liturgy together helps make SsAM the uniquely special place it is.