Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Coming to church

What to expect when you visit us

You'll be welcome

Open the doorWe cordially invite you to worship with us and we’ll do everything we can to make you welcome. The person on the door and the people handing out the books will greet you and will be only too pleased to answer any questions you may have about the service. There may be other newcomers in church, as we're used to meeting new people.

When you visit us, you’ll be our respected and welcome guest. You’ll not be singled out in an embarrassing way, or asked to stand before the congregation or made to come forward. You’ll simply be worshipping God along with the rest of us. Note that you don't have to bring a Bible with you.

If you don't yet feel ready to participate in one of our services, you can simply come in to watch and listen to what happens. Just tell the person on the door or the people handing out the books that you only want to sit and watch. If you read this whole page, nothing will come as a surprise. Once you've come one or twice, you may feel that you'd like to join in with the rest of the congregation. 

 

 

 

 

The Regular Services

Our principal service is the Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion. When celebrated on Sunday mornings (10.30 a.m.), or on other great Christian days such as Christmas Day and Easter Day, the service includes organ and choral music and a sermon. This service normally lasts until about 11.45 a.m. and there is tea or coffee afterwards in the Church Hall, with soft drinks for children. Early on Sunday mornings (8.30 a.m.) and on Friday mornings (11.00 a.m.), Holy Communion is celebrated quite simply, with a couple of hymns and a short reflection rather than a full sermon. There are additional, often evening, services on special Christian days throughout the year. If you’re coming for the first time, we’d recommend that you come to the 10.30 a.m. service on a Sunday.

 

Dress

You don't need to get dressed up. If you're not sure what to wear, dress as you would if you were going shopping in town. What you wear isn't important. It's the fact you're here that matters!

 

Babies and Children

You’re welcome to bring your baby to church. If you bring children, they can either sit with you or join in activities with other children. During the main Sunday morning service (except the all-age Family Eucharist) there’s a crèche for infants and special activities for children. These take place in the Church Hall, with properly qualified supervision. The children come and join their parents in church just before Holy Communion. If you’d like to take advantage of these facilities, please speak to the person on the door or to the people handing out the books. If you prefer to keep your children with you or they’d rather not go, that’s fine. Please follow this link if you would like more information about the Youth Ministry at Holy Trinity. 

Accessibility

Wheelchair access to the church building and to the church hall is by ramp. The people on the door and handing out the books will make sure you're comfotable. Please be sure to ask them about anything they forget to tell you! Once in the church building everything is on one level except the chancel. You may transfer to a pew or remain seated in your wheelchair, whichever you prefer. At Family Eucharist, Holy Communion is given in the nave. You can go to receive Communion in your wheelchair or we can come to you. At Sung Eucharist, Communion is given in the chancel, before the high altar. This isn't accessible to wheelchairs, so it's best if we come to you.

If your vision is impaired, we can give you large-print copies of the liturgy and hymn book (see below). An audio and induction loop system is in place, which should help if your hearing is impaired.

Toilets

Toilets are in the church hall. The ladies’ toilets and the disabled toilet are immediately to the left as you enter. The gents’ toilets are further along on the left hand side, past a bank of electrical switchgear. The hall is open before, during and after the main service at 10.30 on Sundays.

 

 

The Church

As you enter the church, you’ll notice an atmosphere of worship and reverence. As Episcopal churches go, ours is quite large with many beautiful and interesting features. However, your eye is likely to be drawn to the cross above the chancel steps, to the high altar and to the five-panel stained glass window illustrating the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. So your thoughts are taken at once to Christ and to God whose house the church is.

You may see some candles burning: these remind us that Christ is the ‘Light of the world’ (John 8:12). There may also be flowers on display, to beautify God's house and to recall the resurrection of Jesus.

To your left at the front of the church, there is a pulpit from which the sermon is normally preached. Opposite it on the right, there is a lectern, or stand, formed in the shape of an eagle. Here the Scriptures are read and intercessory prayer is offered.

Pews are unreserved and you can sit anywhere you like.

Before the Service

Upon entering church, some people like to kneel in their pew for a prayer of personal preparation for worship. They will tend not to talk in church before a service, but use this time for personal meditation and devotions. Some people also bow or kneel to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ. You don’t have to do any of these things unless you feel you want to – it’s all a matter of personal choice.

The Service

Collecting the booksEpiscopal church services are congregational. As you enter the church, you’ll be handed three worship aids:

  • A copy of the Scottish Liturgy 1982. Please follow the link for the full text. If you haven’t been to an Episcopal Church before, you may find it helpful to read through this Liturgy beforehand to get an idea of what happens. At different times of the year, we use a special version of this litugy.
  • A copy of Common Praise. This is the hymn book that we use. Occasionally, you may receive Mission Praise or another book. The numbers of the hymns are displayed on some of the pillars in church and also appear on the service sheet (see below).
  • A service sheet detailing the order of service (including hymn numbers) and containing collects (short group prayers) for the day and the words of any songs not in the issued hymn book.

If your vision is impaired, we can give you large-print copies of the liturgy and Common Praise. The service sheet is, however, in quite small print. Please let the people handing out the books know if you need assistance.

If you’re in any doubt about what to do, please don’t be afraid to ask the people handing out the books! They’ll be happy to help. Many of our visitors haven’t been to an Episcopal Church before or else belong to Anglican-Episcopal churches which use different liturgies. Some may not even have been to church before – everyone is welcome.

Reading from the lecternWhile some parts of the service are always the same, others change. At the Eucharist, for example, two or three Bible selections are read. These change each Sunday. So do the hymns and other songs. Certain of the prayers also change, in particular the collects (short group prayers) and the intercessory prayers (usually led by a different person each week). Page numbers for parts of the service printed in the blue Scottish Liturgy book are usually announced or given in the service sheet. But don’t be embarrassed to ask your neighbour for the page number if you aren’t sure.

Servers help the clergyYou’ll know that the service is about to begin when the door in the far-left corner opens and a procession of people comes through, led by an altar server bearing a large cross. These people are the altar servers, the choir and the clergy. The Rector, or other person conducting the service, comes at the back. The congregation stands to greet them and sings the opening hymn. The hymn numbers aren’t announced, but they’re displayed on some of the pillars and are in the service sheet which tells you what’s going o­n all through the service.  

The Rector greets everyone and the service then gets under way. Although there’s considerable variety during the year, most of the services have the same basic shape, which you'll get used to after coming a few times. If you get lost in your books and sheet, just ask someone near you to show you where we are – they’ll be delighted to help.

Sermon from the pulpitYou may wonder when to stand or kneel. Practices vary, even among individual Episcopalians. The general rule is to stand to sing hymns (found in Common Praise) and other songs (the words will be printed on your service sheet). We stand, too, for the reading of the Gospel and to say our affirmation of faith: the Nicene Creed. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and any hymns or songs sung only by the choir. We kneel or sit for prayer to show our gratitude to God for his love for us as His children or as an act of humility before Him. However, don't worry if you’re not doing exactly the same as others around you. Some people sit for the whole service, or kneel for more of it than others. It really is more about how you feel comfortable; there's no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.

During the service, the Rector will say, “We meet in Christ’s name” and the congregation replies, “Let us share His peace.” Everyone then shakes hands, saying, “Peace be with you.” Please join in, as it helps to emphasise that we are all one people at peace with each other before God. Just after this, there’s an offertory, or collection. While your offering is welcome, please don’t feel that you ‘have’ to contribute.

Receiving the wine at EucharistThe service then moves to ‘Communion’: receiving the bread and wine. This, the central act of the whole service, is a symbolic remembrance of the Last Supper which Jesus ate with his closest friends on the night before he died (Matthew 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20). At Holy Trinity, everyone is welcome to receive communion. At Sung Eucharist, we go up into the chancel, then kneel or stand at the altar rail and hold out our hands to receive. If you don’t feel that you want to receive the bread and wine then please still come up to the rail and kneel or stand, but bring a liturgy book with you and we’ll know just to give you a blessing. If, however, you don’t feel ready to receive communion or a blessing on your first visit, no one will worry if you remain seated in your pew. Your children can come up to communion with you. At Family Eucharist, we don't go up into the chancel, but receive communion in the nave at the front of church, between the pulpit and the lectern.

North aisle decorated for flower festivalCommunion is followed by a hymn (as was the Last Supper), a collect and a prayer. The service then concludes with a blessing and a final hymn. After this, the procession of servers, choir and clergy forms again with the cross at the front and retires as the organist plays a ‘postlude’, or closing piece of music.

We hope you’ll find the services of the Scottish Episcopal Church beautiful in their ordered dignity, God-centred and yet mindful of the nature and needs of human beings.

 

 

 

After the Service

At the end of the service some people kneel for a private prayer before leaving. Others sit to listen to the organ postlude, the piece of music played at the conclusion of the service. The Rector stands in the porch and greets everyone as they leave. After the service, most people go round to the Church Hall for tea or coffee, with soft drinks for children. You're most welcome to join us. You don't have to come, but it’s a good chance to meet people.

 

The Church Year

The Scottish Episcopal Church observes the traditional Christian calendar. The season of Advent, during which we prepare for Christmas, begins on Advent Sunday, the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In 2006, Advent Sunday fell on 3 December. Christmas itself lasts twelve days, after which we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, which is always on 6 January.

Lent, the forty day (excluding Sundays) period of preparation for Easter, begins on Ash Wednesday. The Easter season lasts for fifty days, starting on Easter Day and concluding on the feast of Pentecost.

During Advent and Lent, the Bible readings are chosen for their appropriateness to the season. During the rest of the year - the season after Epiphany and the long season after Pentecost - the New Testament is read sequentially from Sunday to Sunday, except for a few special Sundays which have their own readings. The Old Testament lesson corresponds in theme with one of the New Testament readings.

Key dates in 2016 and 2017

 

 

 2016

 2017

 Ash Wednesday

10 February 

1 March 

 Good Friday

25 March 

 14 April

 Easter Day

27 March 

 16 April

Ascension Day 

5 May 

 25 May

 Pentecost

15 May 

 4 June

Advent Sunday 

 27 November

 3 December

 

Vestments

 

To add to the beauty and festivity of the services, and to signify their special ministries, the clergy and other ministers wear vestments. Choir vestments usually consist of an undergown called a cassock and a gathered overgown called a surplice. The clergy may also wear cassock and surplice.

Another familiar vestment is the alb, a white tunic with sleeves that covers the body from neck to ankles. Over it (or over the surplice) ordained ministers wear a stole, a narrow band of coloured fabric. Deacons wear the stole over one shoulder, priests and bishops over both shoulders.

At the Eucharist, a priest or bishop may wear a chasuble (a circular garment that envelopes the body) over the alb and stole. The deacon's corresponding vestment has sleeves and is called a dalmatic. Bishops sometimes wear a special headcovering called a mitre.

Stoles, chasubles, and dalmatics, as well as altar coverings, are usually made of rich fabrics. Their colour changes with the seasons and holy days of the church year. The most frequently used colours are violet, white, green and red. In general, violet is used for Advent and Lent, white for Christmas and Easter, green for the seasons of Epiphany and Pentecost and red for martyrs' days and saints' days.  

Further information

If you'd like to find out more about the Scottish Episcopal Church or about joining the congregation, the Rector will gladly answer your questions. Please speak to her after any service or follow this link to get in touch.

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