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What to Expect
We are Anglican Christians, members of the worldwide Anglican Communion whose worship customs were shaped by the Church of England. That heritage was formed by the necessity of somehow providing a church in England roomy enough for Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals to worship together in the beauty of holiness.
When you visit Saint Francis, here's what you can expect:
A community where worship is the heart of everything we do, using liturgies that have been tested by time.
Worship is the heart of everything we do. Two out of three people who attend an Episcopal church have no previous experience with the Book of Common Prayer. Some of us here were not raised in the Christian faith. Some of us cut our liturgical teeth in the Roman Catholic Church, in another Protestant denomination, or in a Protestant evangelical denomination whether Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist or something else.
Anglican liturgy is choreographed. If you're new to it, you may feel as if you're at a formal dance where everybody knows the steps but you. We recognize that. But we respect you enough not to dumb down the liturgy. We remember Jesus' teaching that the most important thing about prayer is to keep at it. The person next to you in church is glad to help you learn how to handle the Prayer Book. A useful introduction to Anglican worship can be found here.
Preaching that inclines our heart to Jesus Christ. The Gospel is good news that tells God's story and ours. We're here to tell you: It is a story to live with.
You will find at St Francis a politically diverse congregation. Some of us are conservatives. Some of us are liberals. None of us are interested in the pulpit being used to grind politically partisan axes. Our clergy preach and teach the Faith revealed in Holy Scripture and outlined in the Nicene Creed. When we tire of that story, jaded we'll let you know. But don't hold your breath.
A church that celebrates the sacraments and rightly administers them. At the heart of the church there is a bath and a meal. Jesus commanded his followers to do two things: to make disciples of all nations, baptizing people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and to "do this" (eat consecrated bread which he called his body and drink consecrated wine which he called his blood of the new covenant) in remembrance of him. Those sacraments, Baptist and the Eucharist — the Mass, the Lord's Supper, Holy Communion — have been held together in the Church's teaching from the very beginning. One must be baptized in order to receive Holy Communion. That is the ancient rule and still the expectation of the Book of Common Prayer. But in a society where people want everything and want it now, the rule is thought by the some to seem off-putting, so some churches practice "open communion" inviting anyone willy-nilly, including those not yet baptized, to partake of the Lord's Supper. That experiment, however well-intended, cuts right to the bone of the Christian faith.
Life at its best is not about getting what you want the moment you want it, as any healthy person knows. And worship is not about you. So if you desire communion and you are not yet baptized, we say keep first things first. Come to the altar rail at communion not to receive the sacrament but to receive a blessings pronounced upon you, indicating your intention by placing your hands across your chest. And make an appointment with a discerning priest, either Father Shand or Father Ellsworth, about your desire to be baptized. Delayed gratification is good for the soul. It makes the meal all the sweeter.
We practice a radical welcome. Following Jesus is hard. Churches have a way of making it even more difficult. We understand that 'doing church' poses its challenges as any thing worth doing in life does. So at Saint Francis we work at being a church both "loose around the edges" and "solid at the core," a church deeply Christian and at the same time permeable to the novice. We put that into practice in these ways: