We believe in the goodness of Creation, made by God. We believe the Bible is the Word of God and contains all things necessary to salvation. We believe in the Holy Trinity – we believe in God the Father (who creates all things), God the Son (whose life, death and resurrection sets us free from sin and death) and God the Holy Spirit (whose power of love moves within us in mysterious and unexpected ways). We look forward to the return of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. The sources of authority of our faith are scripture, tradition, and reason.
Our worship service is divided into two halves:
The Liturgy of the Word and
The Liturgy of the Table (also known as the Great Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist or the Holy Communion)
The Episcopal Church is liturgical – that is, it has formal rites for public worship, drawn from past ages as well as from the present. The Church utilizes three central texts: the Bible (read regularly throughout the Church year), the Book of Common Prayer (contains services, prayers, a calendar of the Church year and more), and a Hymnal (contains hymns and chants).
In the Episcopal Church, we take part in certain regular acts of worship called “sacraments”. Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist are the two primary sacraments. These sacraments were instituted and ordained by Jesus Christ.
Holy Baptism is administered once to each person, usually as an infant, in the Episcopal Church. Water is poured on the head to symbolize the washing away of sins. A&HT offers Holy Baptism on certain days throughout the year – Easter, the Day of Pentecost, All Saints’ Day (or the Sunday following), the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, and during the Bishop’s visit. If you or a member of your family would like to be baptized or have any questions about baptism, please call the church office.
Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the reenactment of the Last Supper Jesus Christ shared with his disciples before his death on the cross. During Holy Eucharist, ordinary bread and wine become the sacramental vehicle for Jesus Christ’s presence with us, as he promised. In the Episcopal Church, and at A&HT, all baptized persons of any Christian faith are welcome to share in this meal of bread and wine. If for some reason you cannot come to the altar to receive, you may speak to an Usher so that we may come to you. If you do not wish to receive communion, you are invited to come forward, cross your arms over your chest, and receive a blessing.
Five other sacraments celebrated in the Episcopal Church are Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation of a Penitent,Ordination, and Unction. These were neither directly commanded by Christ, nor applicable to everyone.
Confirmation is conferred by a bishop and strengthens the commitment made to Christ at Baptism. At A&HT, both youth and adults are invited to make a public affirmation of their faith and to receive the laying on of hands by the bishop. Confirmation classes are available for youth from September through May. Adults wishing to be confirmed, received (if baptized in another Christian faith) or reaffirmed should contact the church office for more information.
Holy Matrimony is the sacrament of marriage, the sacramental rite of the church in which two persons “enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows” (BCP, p. 861). Adults wishing to be married at A&HT should contact the church office as soon as possible.
Reconciliation of a Penitent is a private confession of sins. While it is not a requirement in the Episcopal Church, anyone may request an appointment with the Rector at A&HT to receive reconciliation of a penitent from a priest and receive assurance of God’s forgiveness.
Ordination is the sacrament consecrating Christians in service to God. Spiritual power and grace are given to help them devote their lives to the good of the community – teaching, administering sacraments and governing the Church.
Unction, or Ministry of Healing, is the continuation of Christ’s work among the sick. It may involve the laying on of hands, anointing with oil, and praying for physical and spiritual health.
All are welcome at God’s table. There are more ways to participate in the Worship service as a lay person, if you are interested in deepening your experience. These include:
- Altar Guild: Prepare the church for each service.
- Ushers: Welcome people to the church and aid congregants as needed.
- Tellers: Conduct the offertory.
- Lectors: Read the Daily Office during the service.
- Eucharistic Ministers: Offer the chalice at the altar or at the station.