Tag Archives: Episcopal Church

Church Reflection – St. Paul’s Seattle

st paul's seattle

Today I thought I’d venture into the city and check out St. Paul’s Seattle. Of all of the churches I’ve checked out online, this church has the most impressive online presence. Their style of worship is described as “Anglo-Catholic,” something I’ve only heard of but never experienced.

I attended the 11:15 Holy Eucharist. About 10 minutes before service started, a small group of parishioners gathered at a shrine to the Virgin Mary on the side of the nave and prayed a devotional to the Holy Mother. It was lovely. This is not common in most Episcopal churches…I assume this is part of the Anglo-Catholic tradition.

The service was mostly sung or chanted, included a lot of incense, and plenty of engagement from the congregation. I  found the worship more engaging than most of the liturgies I’ve been a part of. It was very nice! Lots of incense, bowing, and acknowledgement of the prayers in chanting and song. I really enjoyed it. The music was also beautiful, with the sound of the choir echoing throughout the nave (they were seated in the choir loft above the main floor of the church).

Overall, I very much appreciated the richness of the liturgy. I wish more Episcopal churches embraced the chanting and song that St. Paul’s does. One thing that left me wanting more was the friendliness of the congregation. Sadly, not one person welcomed me or invited me to coffee hour. Of course, I was sitting in the back of the church though, so I made it a bit difficult to engage with. I won’t hold this against them, and do plan on attending again sometime in the future. I have yet to find a church that engages so many of my senses during worship as this church. It was truly a beautiful experience!

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Church Reflection – Good Shepherd

Today, I visited the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Federal Way, Washington. It is a quaint and simple-looking church built on a slight hill above 312th Street in Federal Way. The back property of the church was filled with beautiful fir trees…mesmerizing from the narthex of the church.

I found the people of the parish to be extremely kind and welcoming. Several people approached me during and after the service and welcomed me and introduced themselves. I was invited to join everyone for coffee afterward. I was definitely impressed with the beauty of how the Lord’s Prayer was recited during the service. I was given a heads up by a lady sitting in the pew across from mine during the Peace (which lasted several minutes, as everyone wanted to make sure they had time to greet every other person). She let me know that they sing the Lord’s prayer while holding hands with the person next to them. How nice! We sang “The Sung Lord’s Prayer” from Beckham and Mallory.

Something else that stood out to me, which I found awesome…they had a visiting priest since the Rector was away on vacation. The visiting priest was a blind man, and I was thoroughly impressed and in awe with how he carried out his duties: with grace and dignity. He walked in and out with each procession, using his walking stick. During communion, as he administered the consecrated bread, he used his walking stick to go back and forth along the altar rail. People reached their hands out and touched his wrist so that he knew a person was there to receive communion. It was extremely intimate and beautiful. After the service, I shook hands with the priest and thanked him for his service. I noticed he had a Harley Davidson emblem sewn on his stole…how cool!

One thing I didn’t care much for (and this is a VERY minor thing) was that they had a projector screen in the nave of the church. Most people sang the words to the hymns that were on the projector screen (without accompanying musical score) instead of using their hymnals. That saddens me, as I find the singing much more meaningful when I have the musical score to follow along with. In any case, I think this works well for this parish…it is just not my cup of tea!

Overall, I found the people of the parish to be a close-knit community who truly cared for me as a visitor. Several people afterward asked what brought me in, and I told them about my recent move to the area. Several of them gave me suggestions on places I might look to live, and suggested some places I might take my dog.

good shepherd

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Church Reflections

I am a new resident of the Seattle, and I am on a search to find a new church home. I plan to record reflections on my visits to the various churches I visit, mainly for myself, but I figure others might also enjoy reading a bit about my visits. My hope is to focus on those things that appealed to me about the churches…I think being positive is a good thing! But, there are certain things that might stand out that aren’t so positive. My intention is not to be negative or criticize, rather to document and be factual in certain things…

And now, a prayer for guidance on my journey to find a new church home:

Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with your most gracious
favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our
works begun, continued, and ended in you, we may glorify
your holy Name, and finally, by your mercy, obtain everlasting
life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Note: I am Episcopalian and these will only involve Episcopal churches!

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How an ancient prayer renews my faith

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I recently read a similarly titled blog post (An Ancient Prayer Saved my Faith) and was inspired to share my won reflection on the Collect for Purity. This prayer (above) is used at the beginning of worship in the Anglican tradition. The prayer originates from an ancient prayer, and was translated from Latin and included in the original Book of Common Prayer.

My interest in the history of the prayer aside, I didn’t realize that others had had similar experiences to what I felt when I first heard this prayer. I remember the first time I heard this prayer on my first visit to an Episcopal Church in 2009. I had never heard a prayer that expressed an innate desire to worship God, while simultaneously admitting that to God, all that was within us was known and yet we were all being called to worship and stand as one before God. In my life, I’ve met plenty of people who think that their failings would make them not welcome in church, or have made God not interested in them. Nothing could be farther from the truth…and this prayer brings it home.

Upon hearing this prayer, and every week when I hear it in worship, my faith is renewed in knowing that regardless of my faults, God calls me to worship and to be in community with the Church universal. Thanks be to God!

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In thanksgiving for the ordination of women…

Forty years ago today, the first 11 women in The Episcopal Church were ordained to the priesthood. It is my belief that our church, and the wider Christian Church, has been strengthened and enriched by this brave act forty years ago.

“May God bless the harvest of this moment, so that it will be not be a high moment in the history of the Episcopal Church but a holy moment in time,” prayed Charles Willie, the Vice-President of the House of Deputies, in his sermon on July 29, 1974. On that remarkable day, eleven female deacons were called, “to make no peace with oppression,” and were ordained to the priesthood in the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were being cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Above Images: 1) Women priests celebrating the Holy Eucharist, from the Records of the Episcopal News Service. 2) The Philadelphia Eleven kneeling at the altar during their ordination to the priesthood, located in the Records of the Communications Office (DFMS). 3) Image of Bishop Edward Welles leading the ceremony of laying on of hands, part of the rite of ordination, located in the Records of the Communications Office (DFMS).

Portions of the above were excerpted from Facebook posts of The Archives of The Episcopal Church.

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A Prayer of Thanks

Loving God,
we give you thanks
for restoring us in your image
and nourishing us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.
Now send us forth
a people, forgiven, healed, renewed;
that we may proclaim your love to the world
and continue in the risen life of Christ our Savior. Amen.

–Postcommunion prayer from Enriching Our Worship, according to the use of The Episcopal Church.

books-of-common-prayer

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Reflection on “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace”

Today is my second day in Oklahoma City attending a conference run by The Episcopal Church called “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence.” Today is only the second of three days, but my head is already overflowing with lots of ideas on how we as the Church might more vocally and effectively respond to the continuing violence that plagues communities of all sorts. Violence is not something that just affects “them.” We are all victims of violence.

I’ve learned about Jorge Fuentes, a 19-year-old random victim of violence in South Boston (facebook.com/bpeaceforjorge) and how his senseless death has rallied people from all across the Boston urban and suburban areas to respond collectively to violence. I’ve learned about The Community of the Cross of Nails (www.crossofnails.org), formed by a relationship of two churches (one British, one German) after World War II. I’ve learned about an organization called Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence (faithsagainstgunviolence.org) and the Gun Violence Sabbath Prevention Weekend (http://marchsabbath.org/) that organization facilitated this past March and is planning again for 2015. I’ve learned about how attitude and perception matter when contemplating how to respond to violence. I’ve learned about how Episcopalians are working with non-Episcopalians and how non-political people are getting engaged with their politicians to lobby for change. I’ve learned about grassroots bottom-up efforts and top-down initiatives led by governments and schools and churches. I have heard the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury speak and “rally the troops” so to speak. I have heard priests and lay people speak. I’ve heard a bishop who is a former police officer give personal witness to the impact of violence in his life. I’ve spoken to young adults who work in their local communities both within and without their churches to promote positive change.

And yet, there is still so much work to do. There are so many complexities to the epidemic of violence. There are so many resources that provide materials. What is one to do? It is so overwhelming, and as a result, too many people remain silent. Our baptismal covenant makes it exceedingly clear: we are to always strive for peach and justice among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being. This Easter, when many of us will renew our baptismal covenant, the words of this conference will echo in my heart.

There is one comment that I heard today from a speaker at the conference, the Rev. Dr. Kay Collier McLaughlin, author of Becoming the Transformative Church. In responding to a question, she stated: “Holy conversations are not an event, they are a process and an attitude.” I think this one statement sums up why so much of what people have done in response to violence is insufficient. Many people will attend a vigil, or say a prayer, or read an article and say “what can I do?” but do nothing. It is a process and an attitude change, not one specific event that we do. We must continually work toward reconciliation and change. Without continual reflection, continual conversation, continual prayer and continual hard work to make the change we see needs to happen, there will be no change. Violence will continue. We will all continue to be victims.

Tomorrow, our conference continues with more conversation, and a visit to the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the site of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. We will visit this site of overwhelming atrocity as a visual reminder of incredible violence committed to innocent people. It is moments like these that we work toward making a thing of our history. It is possible. Through prayer, continual conversation and reflection, and a lot of hard work, it is possible.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.

Click here to read an article from Episcopal News Service about the conference.


Click here to read an article from The Oklahoman about the conference.

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