Banner 101 1256x345

Episcopal 101

St. James Episcopal Church Welcomes You!

We're so glad you're here! Below you will find some frequently asked questions and some answers about who we are, what we do, and what you can expect when you worship with us. We hope you find it helpful.

What is the Episcopal Church?

The Episcopal Church is a branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion in North America. During the Reformation in the 1500s, the Church of England became independent from the Roman Catholic Church but rather than “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” the Church of England preserved many of the Church’s ancient traditions such as the Holy Sacraments. Episcopalians consider ourselves to be a part of God’s “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” Simply put, we are both Protestant and Catholic. We have been conducting services and reading the scriptures in English since the Reformation (in fact, we are the ones who brought you the King James translation of the Bible in 1611). We have three orders of ordained ministry “bishops” who oversee a large region of parishes, “priests” who are ordained to oversee an individual ministry, preach, teach, and administer the sacraments to God’s people, and “deacons” who are called to go out into the world and serve those who are in need. We also believe that lay people are an integral part of God’s church, we are believers in the ministry of all the baptized and that all members of the church are charged with sharing the Good News of the Gospel & reaching out in love to those in need. 

What do Episcopalians Believe?

Episcopalians have a diversity of beliefs and theological perspectives and we like it that way! Our three sources of authority are scripture, reason, and tradition. Other than the Nicene Creed, adopted by the Church early in the 4th Century, there is no one single document or person that tells us exactly what we should believe or how we should interpret scripture. We believe that “God gave us brains and expects us to use ‘em.” Episcopalians are united through our worship and through the Book of Common Prayer which has been the central text for our worship since 1528.

The full text of the Book of Common Prayer can be found here:

Our catechism, called “An Outline of the Faith” offers some helpful answers to additional frequently asked questions.

You can read it here:

Are there any rules for Holy Communion?

First of all…EVERYONE is welcome at The Lord’s Table. (Kneeling at the Altar is NOT are welcome to stand, as well.) All baptized Christians are invited to receive Holy Communion. Anyone that has not been baptized is very welcome to come to the Altar for a special blessing. If you are unable to walk to the Altar, simply mention it to one of the Ushers and Father Eric will come to you.

Am I supposed to kneel, stand or bow?

A good rule of thumb for most things in the Episcopal Church is: All may, some should, none must. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing to know when to move around during any given Sunday service. But actually, these “aerobics” are quite common and a good way to involve one's whole body in worship. Here’s a quick break-down of all the motion.

(BCP = Book of Common Prayer)

Some choose to bow or genuflect toward the cross on the altar upon entering your church pew this is a way of expressing reverence and gratitude to God.

A typical Sunday service begins with a procession. In most cases, the Crucifer (the person carrying the big brass cross) will walk down the main aisle towards the Altar. Traditionally, people will bow in reverence to this cross, when the crucifer walks-by. 

You are welcome to remain seated during the First Lesson, the Psalm & the Second Lesson. However, congregants stand if they are able when the Gospel is read.

All are seated for the Sermon.

Following the sermon, the Nicene Creed, the Prayer’s of the People are done standing and most will kneel if able at the Confession of Sin. (BCP pgs 326 – 331)

At St. James, our Parish Family really likes to get out of their pews at The Peace.
We enjoy this blessed opportunity to really move around and
share the peace of the Lord with everyone! (BCP p. 332)

During the Offertory (collection), congregants are welcome to sit.

The Holy Communion – (BCP page 333)
begins with everyone standing and then congregants may kneel OR stand. 

Standing or kneeling to say The Lord’s Prayer is most reverent.

Everyone is welcome at the rail! All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion. (Kneeling at the Altar is NOT are welcome to stand, as well.)

If you are not baptized, simply cross your arms in front of your chest and receive a blessing.

If you are unable to make it to the altar for Holy Communion, inform one of the Ushers and the blessed sacraments will be brought to your seat.

After receiving Holy Communion, kneeling or sitting is okay.
But, please kneel during the Postcommunion Prayer.

The service will conclude with the congregation standing…

We understand that some may not be able to move around as much as others…please don’t worry about it. We’re just glad you’re here!

What’s the difference between Rite I and Rite II?

The Rite I Holy Eucharist is a traditional language worship service. It closely resembles the Elizabethan English of the 1559. At St. James' this is a quiet service with no music.

(Every Sunday at 8:00 am)

The Rite II service has the same order of service as Rite I but in contemporary English. At St. James' this service is accompanied by choral singing and organ. (Every Sunday at 10:30 am)

How can I join St. James?

Joining St. James is easy…ask anyone! Our Parish Family will welcome any question that you may have about joining our church.

If you would like to be baptized, confirmed, or received into the Episcopal Church, a fun and informative class is offered once in the Fall and once in the Spring to help you with this new step in your Faith Journey.

Baptism is the sacrament through which new members are welcomed into the family of God. We baptize with water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We baptize people of all ages newborns, children, and adults. We acknowledge one baptism in the Episcopal Church, if you have been baptized before, that is all that is required. When the time is right and you feel called by God to take the next step in your faith journey, then Confirmation is offered. The Bishop lays hands on the one being confirmed an asks God to empower that person for ministry. If you have been confirmed as a Roman Catholic, then there is no need to be confirmed again, the bishop simply receives you into this branch of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church.

Got questions?

If you still have questions or would like to find out more about St. James, La Grange email Father Christopher at