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Frequently Asked Questions

When you first come to Saint Luke’s Church, you may have some questions about our worship, traditions, membership, and activities. This page is designed to help answer those questions. If there's a question we missed, please e-mail the church and tell us what's on your mind.

Worship

What is the general style of worship in an Episcopal Church?

Worship in the Episcopal Church is according to the many different services found in The Book of Common Prayer. But don't think it is always the same all of the time.  We change things as the seasons change. The forms in The Book of Common Prayer, which is sometimes referred to as the "BCP", provide a framework for our worship.
You will find Episcopal churches that are very formal and others which are very informal. At Saint Luke's Church, you will find our Sunday service to be a mixture that provides for all to worship according to their style.

Why do you have more than one book in the pews?

In each pew, you will find a book rack with two books: The Book of Common Prayer (the red book) and the 1982 Hymnal ( the blue book ).  We pray together using The Book of Common Prayer and we sing together from the Hymnal.  Sometimes we sing songs using music from other hymnals.

What should I wear?

Wear what you would wear to school or to work. There is no hard and fast "dress code."   Ties for men are not required.

What's with all the bowing and other movements during worship?

What you are observing are called manual acts and include bowing, making the sign of the cross, and genuflecting (kneeling briefly down on one knee). We like to say these fall under the general guideline of "all may, some should, none must." All may do them, some should do them for their own spiritual growth and nobody must do them. Manual acts are personal signs of devotion made by those attending worship as they grow closer to God.

Bowing

Generally, you will see people bow whenever the name of Jesus is spoken, during the reciting of the Nicene Creed when we mention Jesus coming down from heaven and becoming human, and some bow when the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is mentioned.  We bow when the cross passes in processions since it has the name of Jesus on it and the scriptures tell us that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow.

Sign of the Cross

People often make the sign of the cross when the Trinity is mentioned like at the blessing at the end of the service, at the end of the Gloria, and at the end of the Nicene Creed.
A signing of the cross by your right thumb on your forehead, lips and heart is often done as the Gospel reading is announced. The significance of this is to place the message of the Gospel in your mind, on your lips, and in your heart.

Genuflecting

Genuflecting is a sign of respect shown to Jesus Christ. You may see people genuflect as they enter or leave the pew.

Kneeling
It is often said that we sit to hear God’s word read for us or explained by the priest in a sermon, we stand to praise God and we kneel to pray.  Some kneel during the service but you may stand or kneel during the service as directed in The Book of Common Prayer.

Holy Communion Practices

Can I take Communion in the Episcopal Church?

This is one of the most common questions. The Episcopal Church practices open Communion for all baptized Christians. This means if you have been baptized in another Christian church, you are welcome to receive Communion here.

But what if I'm not baptized?

While Holy Communion is reserved for baptized Christians, those who are not baptized may still come forward to receive a blessing during the distribution of Holy Communion. Come forward and either kneel or stand at the rail and cross your hands over your chest to indicate to the priest you wish to receive a blessing. The priest will make the sign of the cross on your forehead and pronounce the blessing.

How do I take Communion at Saint Luke's?

When it is time to take Communion, the congregation starts to come forward after the choir has communed and sometimes if there are a lot of folks the ushers will come to your pew and invite you to come forward. Walk to the front of the church and step up the three steps and take your place at the altar rail beginning at the right hand side of the rail. You may kneel or stand to receive Communion.
Open hands
Once you are at the altar rail, put your hands out with palms up to receive the bread (it usually works best to put one hand over the top of the other). The priest will give you a part of the bread in your hands.
Once you receive the bread, you have a choice. You may either eat it immediately and receive the wine by sipping from the common cup, or you may hold onto the bread and dip it into the wine of the intinction cup that will be brought to you.
Saint Luke's Church, like most Episcopal churches, uses real wine for Holy Communion. We use a kosher red wine with some water in it; however, even with the water it can be quite strong. If you feel you cannot receive the wine because of allergies, addictions, medications, or personal preference, you may receive just the bread as we believe receiving one of the elements, either the bread or the wine, of Communion is sufficient.
If you cannot come forward because of limited mobility, just let someone know, who will tell the priest, and the priest will bring you Communion at your seat at the end of Communion.

Youth & Children

What do you have for my kids?

This is the question on every parents' mind when they visit a church. Saint Luke's Church embraces and celebrates the special gifts and needs of children and youth as citizens of God's kingdom. Children and youth are not the future of the church but we believe they are the church just as are the adults.

My children sometimes get noisy. Will that be a problem?

We are aware that little ones can get squirmy from time to time.  Even the adults do at times.  There are times that the priest will have a sermon just for the children.  There are toys for the children at the back of the church for the children to play with during the service.   Don’t try to get them to sit on the pew. How would you like to spend time suspended in air?  Instead point out what is going on.

Baptism

What is baptism?

Baptism is a sacrament of the church - an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." The grace received is to become a full member of the Body of Christ we know as the Church. It is all about membership and belonging to the Church. A person being baptized either makes their own vows or, in the case of small children, a parent makes the vows on their behalf. These vows are known as the Baptismal Covenant found in The Book of Common Prayer.
Baptism is all about making a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple. This includes making a commitment to a church to be faithful in attending and growing in your discipleship in the company of believing friends.

Weddings

Do I have to be a member to get married at Saint Luke's Church?

Either the bride or the groom must be a member or directly related to a member of Saint Luke’s Church in order to be married here. If you are seeking a small chapel to rent in the area, for a wedding you may want to check with Dahlgren Chapel on Old National Pike at the top of South Mountain across from the South Mountain Inn.

Parish Hall Use

Can I rent the Parish Hall for private parties or gatherings?

We do not rent the Parish Hall to outside groups and there are specific guidelines for use by members.

Membership

How can I become a member of Saint Luke’s Church?

If you are interested in making Saint Luke’s Church your spiritual home, please speak to the priest. If you are transferring from another Episcopal Church, we will request a letter of transfer be sent to Saint Luke's Church so that we can move your membership record to our rolls. If you are transferring from another church in communion with the Episcopal Church or recognized as such, you will not need a letter of transfer.

What are the requirements for membership in the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church asks all members to be:

  • faithful in corporate worship, unless for “good cause” prevented
  • and faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the
    Kingdom of God

We also take very seriously the six practices of discipleship which are:

  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Bible Reading
  • Service to God and To Others
  • Generous and Joyous Giving of Time, Talent, and Treasure
  • Encouraging Others to Grow in Faith

At Saint Luke’s Church we encourage everyone to grow in their commitment to God through regular worship on Sunday and participation in the fellowship opportunities.