Think of this page as your “First-Time Guide to Visiting St. John’s.”
Coming into the bright red front doors of the church, your eye travels forward to a stained glass window casting a glow over the altar where our priest leads our prayers of thanksgiving for Christ’s love for us. To the right, you see the pipes of the 21 rank Möller organ. On either side of the seating area, sunlight filters through stained glass windows that were created at several different point in the church’s 250 year history.
As you enter the church to attend a worship service, you will be greeted by an usher who will give you a leaflet we often refer to as the “bulletin.” It is a guide to following the service in The Book of Common Prayer, the Hymnal 1982 and our 2nd hymnal, Lift Every Voice and Song II. If you’re not familiar with these books, following the service can be a little intimidating at first, but whoever is sitting near you would be glad to help you learn, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Every Sunday morning, we offer worship by celebrating the Lord’s Supper, otherwise know as the Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Mass. It includes readings from the Bible, prayers for our neighbors and the world, a sermon, and the ritual of receiving bread and wine, the sacramental body and blood of Christ. All baptized Christians are automatically welcome to receive communion, no questions asked. For many generations, Episcopalians have cherished an old prayer for the wellbeing of people of “all sorts and conditions.” At St. John’s, we continue not only to pray for all, but to welcome all, regardless of sort or condition!
The atmosphere at St. John’s is usually a blend of personal warmth and ceremonial beauty. The service at 8 AM on Sunday is quiet and contemplative, while the service at 10 AM on Sunday includes lots of music and special programing for children. Children are always warmly welcome at all services, but the 10 AM service is designed with them in mind.
Sunday School for children up through middle school begins at 9:15 AM and ends in time for them to attend the 10 AM service. In that service, kids participate as acolytes, and younger kids start the service in church, but are led to the next room for their own sermon and prayers, and return to participate in Holy Communion with their families. Sometimes parents of babies and toddlers want a little relief from constantly attending to their little ones, a moment to call their souls their own. We do offer nursery care during the 10 AM service for that reason.
Following the 10 AM service, we continue with a time for socializing and fellowship in the Great Hall, where volunteers serve various goodies, including what we jokingly refer to as the eighth sacrament: coffee!
If you are trying to decide which service to visit, you can start with whichever is most convenient for you. At all of them, you can expect to be greeted by an usher as you enter, but then to be allowed to “have your own space” as the service begins. We don’t single out visitors in front of the whole congregation, but it is very likely that you will be noticed, and at the end of the service, someone will probably greet you and welcome you to St. John’s.
By the way, parking at St. John’s is mostly on the street, either Trumbull Place, which the church faces, or St. John’s Street. We do have a small parking lot behind the church, accessed from St. John’s Street, but it is no more convenient than Trumbull Place. Coming from either direction, the church buildings are handicapped accessible.