Frequently Asked Questions 

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  1. If I visit your church, will I be singled out in any way?
  2. What should I wear?
  3. What about my children? Are they welcome at the service?
  4. Who may take Communion at your church?
  5. How do I take Communion?
  6. Do you use real wine? What if I don't want to drink from the common cup?
  7. Who is christopher C churchmouse?
  8. What does "Episcopal" mean?
  9. So is the Episcopal Church Protestant or Catholic?
  10. How is the church governed?
  11. What is "The Book of Common Prayer"?
  12. How do Episcopalians worship?
  13. Does the church celebrate other rites?
  14. Tell me about the Episcopal Shield.
  15. How can I learn more about Episcopal worship practices?
  16. What are the sacraments of the Episcopal Church?
  17. Does the Episcopal Church baptize infants?
  18. Does the Episcopal Church ordain women to the clergy?
  19. How do I join the Episcopal Church? Do I need to be confirmed?
  20. I have already been baptized. If I become an Episcopalian, do I need to be re-baptized?

  1. If I visit your church, will I be singled out in any way?
    When you visit St. Christopher's, you will be greeted at the door, offered a bulletin, and invited to Coffee Hour following the service. Our members are encouraged to wear nametags so that you can begin to put names with faces right away. If you feel comfortable doing so, we invite you to wear a nametag as well when you visit. You will not be asked to stand (or remain seated) while visitors are singled out! After you have visited a few times and gotten to know some of us during Coffee Hour, we may indeed single you out...with a smile, an energetic "Hello!," or even a hug!
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  2. What should I wear?
    We encourage you to wear what is comfortable for you -- dressy, casual, even jeans. You will usually find someone else wearing the same thing! On any given Sunday, half of the congregation are wearing their "Sunday best," and half are wearing more casual attire (khakis and golf shirts for men; sun dresses, capris, or slacks for women).
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  3. What about my children? Are they welcome at the service?
    Absolutely! Children are always welcome to attend worship with their parents. When you first visit St. Christopher's, you may want to keep your children with you during the entire service, and that's perfectly acceptable. At the 9:30 service, we do offer an age-appropriate program especially for children in the Children's Chapel. Children process out behind the choir and return at the Exchange of the Peace. A nursery for infants and toddlers is also available. To parents of young children, may we suggest: 1. Relax! God put the wiggle in children - don't feel you must suppress it here. 2. Sit toward the front - children will be more attentive when they can see what's going on. 3. Explain the parts of the service; help your child find the printed parts of the service and the hymns. 4. Sing, pray and respond; your child will learn by copying you. 5. If your child needs to leave, do so, but please come back. 6. If all else fails, our nursery is open in the main building...just follow the butterflies painted on the wall.
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  4. Who may take Communion at your church?
    All baptized Christians are welcome at the Lord's Table. Your own denomination may have some restrictions on where you may or may not communicate, however, so it would be wise to check with a clergyperson in your own church first. A child may take communion at any age. We do not believe that a certain "understanding" of the proceedings is necessary for the sacrament to be valid. The decision of when to take communion is left up to the child and his/her parents.
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  5. How do I take Communion?
    At the time of communion, the ushers will show you where to go to the altar rail; you may stand or kneel. The wafer will be placed in your outstretched hands. When the chalice of wine comes, you may drink from it directly (helping to guide it to your mouth), or leave the wafer in your hand. The chalice bearer will take the wafer, dip it (intinction) into the wine and place it on your tongue.
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  6. Do you use real wine? What if I don't want to drink from the common cup?
    At St. Christopher's, as in most Episcopal Churches, we use real wine (usually port wine). A little water is added to the wine during the consecration, so the wine is not very strong. However, if you don't want to drink the wine, or if you are otherwise uncomfortable drinking from the common cup, you may cross your arms over your chest (touching your hand to the opposite shoulder) to signal to the chalice bearer that you don't want the wine, and you will not be offered the cup.
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  7. Who is christopher C churchmouse?
    Churchmice are often found in Anglican and Episcopal churches. Some say they love the liturgy; others say they can find crumbs here and there; others say they just like hanging out with the altar guild members. Chris came to live in the rafters of the church while The Rev. Rogers Harris was rector here. From his perch high above our heads, christopher watches the comings and goings of our parishioners, and occasionally shares a thought or two with us in the weekly "Churchmouse" publication.
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  8. What does "Episcopal" mean?
    "Episcopos" is the Greek word for "bishop." Thus "Episcopal" means "governed by bishops." The Episcopal Church maintains the three-fold order of ministry as handed down by the Apostles -- deacons, priests and bishops -- in direct descent, via the laying on of hands, from the original Apostles. By the way, "Episcopal" is an adjective: "I belong to the Episcopal Church." The noun is "Episcopalian": "I am an Episcopalian."
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  9. So is the Episcopal Church Protestant or Catholic?
    Both. Neither. Either. Anglicanism is often referred to as a "bridge tradition." When the Church of England separated itself from Rome, it did not consider itself to be a "Protestant" tradition. Rather, it saw itself returning to the original organization of the church, with local/national congregations organized under the rule of their own bishops. As the church evolved in England, certain elements of the Reformation (such as worship in the vernacular, an emphasis on Scriptural authority, and a broader view of what happens during the consecration of the Eucharist) became a part of its tradition. In an attempt to reconcile the views of the Reformers with the tradition of the Catholic Church, the Anglican tradition became a home for both. Thus you will find very traditional ("high church" or "Anglo-Catholic") parishes and very reformed ("low church" or Evangelical) parishes throughout the Anglican Communion. Most parishes probably fall in the middle of the two extremes.
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  10. How is the church governed?
    In an established, self-sustaining congregation, or "parish", day-to-day matters are handled by a panel of elected lay people called a "vestry." The head priest, or "rector", handles spiritual and worship-related matters, and usually serves in an advisory capacity on church committees. Depending on the size of the congregation, the rector may have one or several ordained assistants. Often there will be other lay or ordained people in charge of specific areas. At St. Christopher's, we have several lay leaders on staff: Minister of Parish Development; Director of Parish Ministry; Director of Music Ministries; Publications & Primary Youth Director; and a Sexton(a person who handles physical maintenance of the church building and grounds). Churches that are not self-sustaining are called "missions." Often they are newly formed congregations, or congregations with a very small membership. These churches are administered by the bishop's office. The head priest of a mission is called a "vicar" because he or she serves as the bishop's representative. All individual congregations are part of a larger geographical area called a "diocese," which is lead by a bishop. Our head bishop, the "Presiding Bishop," is elected to serve a nine-year term.
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  11. What is "The Book of Common Prayer"?
    Contrary to what some believe, The Book of Common Prayer (the "Prayer Book") is not an "Anglican Bible." We love it, use it and depend on it, but it is not Scripture (though it does contain quite a lot of Scripture), and we do not view it or use it as such. The first Book of Common Prayer was produced by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549, and revised by Cranmer in 1552 (further revisions occured in 1559 and 1662; the latter revision is still used as the official Prayer Book of the Church of England, and is considered a literary classic among scholars). The book was intended to facilitate worship in English rather than Latin, and to bring the rites of the church together into one book for use by both clergy and layfolk. Each national church in the Anglican Communion has its own adaptation of the Prayer Book. The American version, used by most churches in ECUSA, was last revised in 1979 (some Episcopal churches prefer to use the 1928 version). In the Prayer Book, you will find the orders of service for the various rites of the church, the Daily Office, prayers for use within the context of the liturgy and prayers for use in home devotions, the Lectionary (i.e., the Scriptural readings to be used in corporate worship, organized so as to carry the congregation through the entire Bible in a three-year period), the Psalter (Psalms), the Calendar of the Church Year, The Outline of the Faith (Catechism) and various historical documents.
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  12. How do Episcopalians worship?
    The central rite is the Service of Holy Eucharist (also called "Communion," or "The Lord's Supper"). The first part of the liturgy ("The Liturgy of the Word" ) consists of prayers, scripture readings and a sermon or homily. This is followed an Affirmation of Faith (The Nicene Creed), the Prayers of the People, Confession of Sin, Absolution, and the Exchange of Peace. The second part of the liturgy ("The Liturgy of the Eucharist") begins with the offerings of the congregation, then proceeds with the Eucharistic Prayer, Consecration of the Elements (bread and wine), Communion, the Post-Communion Prayer, Blessing and Dismissal.
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  13. Does the church celebrate other rites?
    Other public rites of the church include Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer and Evening Prayer Baptism, Confirmation/Reception (held during the main Sunday service during the Bishop's annual visitation) and Ordinations (these are scheduled by the bishop's office, and held at various churches throughout the diocese).
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  14. Tell me about the Episcopal Shield.
    This symbol, which you will see at virtually every Episcopal Church and website, is the official "logo" of ECUSA, and depicts our history. It is red, white and blue...the colors of both the U.S. and England. The red Cross of St. George on a white field is symbolic of the Church of England. The blue field in the upper left corner is the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. It features a Cross of St. Andrew, in recognition of the fact that the first American bishop was consecrated in Scotland. This cross is made up of nine crosslets, which represent the nine dioceses that met in Philadelphia in 1789 to form the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.
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  15. How can I learn more about Episcopal worship practices?
    The best way to learn more about our worship practices is to look through a copy of The Book of Common Prayer. Come by the church office during business hours and we'll be glad to give you a copy to peruse.
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  16. What are the sacraments of the Episcopal Church?
    Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Holy Matrimony, Reconciliation ("confession"), Ordination and Unction of the Sick. Of these, Baptism and the Eucharist are considered "necessary" sacraments...the others are "conditional" sacraments (i.e., they are not required of all persons, but apply in certain situations). "Sacraments" are defined as "Outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace."
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  17. Does the Episcopal Church baptize infants?
    Yes. We believe that the grace conferred by the Sacrament of Baptism is not and should not be reserved only for "informed believers."
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  18. Does the Episcopal Church ordain women to the clergy?
    Yes. The Episcopal Church has ordained women to all orders of ministry since 1976.
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  19. How do I join the Episcopal Church? Do I need to be confirmed?
    If you are coming from a church in the Apostolic Succession (i.e., Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox), and have already been confirmed, you would be "received" by the bishop of our diocese, in a ceremony that normally takes place during the bishop's visit to your church. If you are coming from a different tradition, confirmation would be appropriate. St. Christopher's regularly holds "Inquirer's Classes" for people interested in reception or confirmation prior to the bishop's visitation. Note that confirmation or reception is NOT necessary before you can take communion or participate in the life of the church.
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  20. I have already been baptized. If I become an Episcopalian, do I need to be re-baptized?
    No. "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." Once you have been baptized with water, in the name of the Trinity, you have been received by adoption into the family of Christ (not into a particular denomination) and that need not be repeated. This is true even if you were a tiny baby when you were baptized. If you wish to make a public, adult, affirmation of faith, you may choose to be confirmed, if appropriate (see above). You also always have the option of publically reaffirming your baptismal vows, even after confirmation, if you so choose...but this is a highly personal matter, and not in any way required.
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St. Christopher's Episcopal Church reveals the light of Christ as a beacon of love in the world.

  St. Christopher's Episcopal Church

400 Dupre Drive (next to Spartanburg High School)
Spartanburg, SC 29307
864-585-2858
FAX 864-585-0799

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