New to St. John’s?
What to Expect
Stepping inside the doors of a new church can be a leap of faith on many levels, even for people who've been going to church for a long time. Some of your questions might include:
- Will anyone talk to me? Or will too many people talk to me?
- Will they ask me for money?
- Will it be ok if my kids can't sit still or be quiet the entire service?
- How should I dress?
- Will there be anyone there my own age?
- Does it matter if I'm an Episcopalian?
- Am I welcome if I don't believe?
Whether you've never been to church before, or you’ve been attending church your entire life, we want you to feel comfortable at St John's. We want to make sure you leave your worship experience feeling that it's been stress free, engaging, and enjoyable.
Below is an overview of what to expect on Sunday morning:
Choosing Which Service to Attend
St. John’s has two worship services on Sunday morning offering different worship experiences. Both services are centered on the Holy Eucharist (Communion) and use Rite II Episcopal liturgy. Click below for a description of each service:
7:30 a.m. Service in the Chapel of the Holy Family
The Chapel is located in the center of the St. John’s campus, between the larger stone sanctuary building and the education wing. Enter the chapel through the main chapel doors, find a service bulletin located at the ends of the pews, and find a place to sit. The service bulletin will lead the visitor through the liturgy, referencing page numbers from the Book of Common Prayer, which is our worship manual and may be found in book rack on the backs of the pews. Please note: there is no music at this service and, unlike traditional Episcopal liturgy, the homily (sermon) is at the end of the service.
All visitors are welcome to join us for communion. All visitors are also welcome to any of the literature located on the small table near the main doors. The chapel is also open Monday through Friday, 9a.m. to 4p.m. for prayer. Visitors are welcome to light a candle at the prayer stand. (A donation is requested for use of the candles.)
9:30 a.m. Rite II Holy Eucharist
This Rite II liturgy honors the traditions of Anglican worship in an historic and traditional worship setting. The beautiful architecture and colorful stained glass windows of the church combine with the extraordinary voices of the St. John’s choir and the enveloping chords of the amazing organ to add depth and texture to the liturgy.
Enter the main church, located on the northeast corner of 14th and Pine, either from the Pine Street entrance, or from the double doors located on the southeast corner of the church building. Ushers greet everyone arriving for worship, distribute service bulletins, and help visitors find places to sit in the main church. There is a literature table located in the narthex (Episcopalian for “lobby”) that visitors are welcome to peruse.
Children and youth are welcome at all services at St. John’s. There is a bookstand containing worship materials appropriate for children at the back of the church. You can also find “Scribble Pads for Little Episcopalians” and worship booklets in the pews. The booklets are designed to help children understand and participate in the service. Kids can color and write on each page as the service progresses; please bring “used” booklets home with you. Feel free to use new booklets each time your family worships.
On first Sundays of each month Sunday School is not in session and families are especially encouraged to bring children and youth to worship in the church. Homilies on family Sundays are specifically designed to appeal to children. Choristers, our children’s choir, performs on the first Sunday of each month.
There are several unique Sunday celebrations that occur throughout the year including the Blessing of the Animals (in October), the Christmas Pageant (in December), and Kirkin of the Tartan, a celebration of all things Scottish and of family in its broadest sense (sometime in the spring).
All visitors are welcome to join us for communion. All visitors are also welcome to any of the literature located on the table in the church lobby (narthex).
When You Arrive
When you arrive at St John’s, you will find parking in our small parking garage off of 15th Street, on side streets in surrounding neighborhoods, in the alley behind St. John’s, or in the downtown parking garage located on Pearl Street between 15th and 16th. As we are a downtown church, parking can sometimes be limited. Therefore, you’re encouraged to arrive early. This is especially true if you have children to get settled in Nursery or Sunday School before church begins.
As you enter the front doors, you'll be met by a friendly usher who will hand you a service bulletin and help you find a place to sit in church. Once you are seated, you will find Visitor/Newcomer cards in the rack on the back of each pew. Please fill out one of these cards and put it in the plate during the offertory if you would like more information about joining St. John’s.
You'll notice that everyone is dressed comfortably, in anything from "office casual" to flip-flops and shorts. If you arrive early, you'll probably overhear the organist warming up before the service.
What about my kids?
Children are always welcome to worship at all our services, especially our 9:30 Family Service on first Sundays of each month, which is specifically designed with young children in mind. Be sure to look for books to borrow in the back of the church. In addition, there are “Scribble Pads for Little Episcopalians” and booklets in the pews which children can write in and color as the service progresses.
Childcare is available for children 3 years old and younger starting from 8:30 a.m. in our church nursery if you prefer to worship without your child present. On second through fifth Sundays of the month, most children age 3 and older attend Sunday School. Youth 5th – 8th grade attend Breakfast Club. High school youth, as young adults, are encouraged to worship with their families.
Communion Instruction classes are offered at least once a year for children and their parents.
During the Service
Our service follows the order of most Episcopal services, which use the liturgy found within The Book of Common Prayer. The service usually begins with everyone standing and singing with the choir, followed by a welcome from the clergy and a series of Scripture readings and prayers. You'll notice that throughout many parts of the service, the congregation participates by saying the prayers together: all the words will be in the service bulletin or in The Book of Common Prayer (see service bulletin for page numbers), but it's also ok to stand silently if that feels more comfortable.
Towards the middle of the service, one of the clergy will present a sermon, which usually lasts around 10 minutes. (During the 9:30 children's service on first Sundays of the month, we hear a Children's sermon, with all the children coming to the front of the church for an interactive, 4-5 minute lesson.)
After the sermon, the priest will say, "The peace of the Lord be always with you!" And the congregation replies: "And also with you!" Priest: "I invite you to exchange God's peace with one another."
What follows is a joyful, sometimes boisterous time of everyone saying hello to one another, with the phrase "Peace be with you!" Folks get out of their seats, shake hands, hug, say hello.
Next, the ushers collect the offering. We want you to feel welcome as our guest, with no pressure to give. Our regular attendees will put their contributions in the offering plates to pay for our expenses and fund our local and global outreach programs. Even though we hope you'll simply be our guest on your first visit, we do hope you'll drop your Visitor/Newcomer card into the plate, so we can send you any information you request. If you want to stay anonymous, that's okay, too.
The Holy Eucharist, or Communion, is the final part of our service. The 9:30 service lasts about an hour and 15 minutes. We hope you enjoyed the service!
You can read a more detailed version of what happens during a normal service here.
After the Service
After the 9:30 service: Please join us in the Parish Hall or directly outside (during nice weather) for beverages and refreshments. We hope you'll stay and meet some of us: church is about many things, but at the heart of our worship together at St John’s is community and friendship, so we really hope our newcomers can get a taste of the warmth and friendliness so many of us have found at St John’s.