Book of Common Prayer
In worship, we use the Book of Common Prayer in its 1928 American edition. This edition contains prayers and affirmations of faith dating to the beginning of Christianity, as well as the traditional Anglican/Episcopal liturgy. This liturgy has been in continuous use since it was first published in 1549.
When we gather together in services of worship, our “common prayers” are liturgical, that is, they are structured. Only in this way can we truly share our worship of God. Our liturgical worship involves the whole person, body, mind and spirit. We are active participants rather than just listeners. Worship to us is not “show business.” It goes from us to God rather than from a preacher to us. We come to church to give God the praise and worship which, as His creatures, we owe Him; not to get something for ourselves.
The Holy Eucharist
The center of our worship is the Holy Eucharist. Other traditional names for this service are: the Holy Communion, the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, and the Divine Liturgy. It is the service specifically commanded by Jesus in the New Testament. The Eucharist joins our offering of worship to Christ’s offering of Himself upon the altar of the cross. As He promised (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 6; I Corinthians 11) Jesus is truly, spiritually present under the outward forms of the consecrated Bread and Wine, to infuse our lives with the spiritual strength of His life.
Receiving Holy Communion
By receiving Holy Communion, we give our Solemn Assent, our “Amen,” to the entire Anglican Eucharistic Service. We express our belief that the Eucharist is a spiritual sacrifice which must be administered by a bishop or a priest whose ministry derives in succession from the Apostles themselves. We express also our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. Because of the seriousness of these affirmations, this Church does not presume to invite those who in good faith cannot yet accept these beliefs to compromise their conscience by receiving Holy Communion at our Altar. It is for these reasons that we are not an “open Communion” Church. Those who do so believe, and who have been confirmed by a Bishop in Apostolic Succession, and who are spiritually prepared, are welcome to receive Holy Communion.
Preparation for Holy Communion generally takes the form of private prayers. In many Anglican parishes, those physically able to do so refrain from eating ordinary food prior to morning Communion, or for three hours prior to an evening Communion.
Morning and Evening Prayer
The Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer are prayer services derived in many ways from the Synagogue worship of the Old Testament. They consist of readings from the Psalms, other Bible readings, canticles (songs), and prayers. They are provided in the Book of Common Prayer in a manner which makes their discipline of prayer, psalmody, and Holy Scripture the daily spiritual diet of the Church, clergy and lay folk alike.
If you are new to Anglican worship you may find some of the customs in our services unfamiliar. You will also find some variation of customs from parish to parish. The priest in your local parish will be happy to explain to you the symbolism of our worship. One general rule of thumb for Anglicans is that we stand to praise God, sit for listening to instruction, and kneel humbly to pray.
Worship is the prime responsibility for all Christians. Anglicans believe that the life of Christian service is possible only through a full life of worship, through which we receive God’s love and express our love to Him. Hence, we believe it is our obligation not only to worship God together every Lord’s Day (Sunday) but also to have a daily life of prayer. A number of parishes are able to offer the Daily Offices and the Holy Communion during the week, as well as on Sunday.