Altar at St. Philip's of BeulahIf you aren’t sure what to expect at a St. Philip’s worship service, you can watch one of our services live on Facebook at 10:00 every Sunday morning, or later on our YouTube channel, to get comfortable before you visit us in person.

When you arrive at St. Philip’s for an in-person service, a greeter will meet you and you’ll get a service bulletin as you go to the worship space. The entire service, except the sermon, is printed in the service bulletin. Our Sunday services usually include singing, Bible readings, prayers for ourselves and others, time for meditation, a sermon or pastoral message, and communion (Holy Eucharist) where we share bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus Christ and the Last Supper. The readings reprinted in the bulletin come primarily from the Bible (NRSV) and the Book of Common Prayer. Music is mostly from the Hymnal.

When you enter the worship space, your eye is carried to the altar, or holy table, in the center front, and to the cross, so our thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is. Candles on or near the altar remind us that Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12). Often there are flowers, to beautify God’s house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus. The rector may deliver their sermon from a pulpit on the left side of the altar. On the right is a lectern where a member reads that day’s Scripture.

The bulletin will usually indicate when you stand or sit, or the rector will invite you to stand or be seated. The general rule is to stand to sing; to say our affirmation of faith, the Nicene Creed; and when the priest reads from the Bible.

We sit during the sermon and while the altar is set for Holy Communion. We stand or kneel for prayer to show our gratefulness to God for accepting us as children or as an act of humility before God. If you are not able to stand or kneel, no problem. You can stay seated.

About midway through the service, the rector will say, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” The members respond, “And also with you.” After the response, we turn to each other and say “Peace” or “Peace be with you.” We might hug, shake hands, fist bump, or flash the two-finger peace sign.

After the Peace, an usher will walk down the center aisle with a wide bowl into which you can, if you wish, put a donation or offering. If you don’t want to contribute, you don’t have to – we are happy to have you with us! The offerings help pay for the church’s expenses and are sometimes earmarked for a particular ministry, like the Baby Pantry.

At St. Philip’s, we celebrate Holy Communion (serve bread and wine) at each service. Communion or eucharist is one of the principal sacraments of the Episcopal Church. Sacraments are “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace,” according to the Book of Common Prayer. In the case of the Eucharist, the outward and visible sign is bread and wine, and the inward and spiritual grace is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith.

Communion with Nan Peete

The priest stands behind the altar and prepares the bread and wine, known as the Eucharist. Once the priest has blessed the Eucharist and we have said a general confession, the ushers will let worshippers leave their pews and go to the altar. The priest hands out bread, and a layperson holds the cup of wine. Worshipers cup their hands together in front of them, and the priest places a piece of the bread into their hands.

The worshiper then goes to the layperson with the wine, or the layperson may come to them, to offer a sip of wine. We use consecrated (real) wine in remembrance of Christ’s instructions during the Last Supper. Worshippers are not required to drink the wine (we use a common cup) and may instead show reverence for the cup by touching the cup’s base or a placing a hand on the heart.

If you are not able to walk to the altar for Communion but would like to have it brought to you, just let the usher know and they will make sure Communion is brought to you at your seat. If you do not wish to take Communion, no problem – just stay in your seat.

At the end of the service some persons kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others sometimes sit to listen to the organ postlude. Following the service, the priest greets people as they leave. Almost all stick around for Coffee Hour to meet new friends and connect with old ones.

What other services are held at St. Philip’s?

In addition to Sunday services, you’ll sometimes find other opportunities to worship and meditate at St. Philip’s. Examples include daily prayer services, evening prayer, special observances such as feast days, funerals, baptisms, ordinations and so forth. Bible study and faith education groups may meet at the church or online.