What you can expect at St. Helen's
Our church family is very much muti-generational and multi-cultural with many people coming from Anglican churches from other parts of the world. In many ways we reflect the wider community around us. This is very important to us as it keeps us attuned to the wider needs of the community. As St. Helen's is an Anglican Church, its worship is in the context of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is also known as Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. Simply put, there are two main parts of the service. The first is a focus on listening to God's Word which prepares us for the the second when we share together in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. The bread is fresh out of the oven every Sunday morning.
Who's Involved The body of Christ has many parts and functions and we come together as that body every Sunday as a living symbol of that image. Here it is that each may contibute their skills and gifts to God and to the community as we worship.
A variety of people have a part in each week's celebration all the way from welcoming and greeting people at the door to serving refreshments at our fellowship time. No one must take on a ministry but we encourage as many as desire to offer their gift. Ministries include Greeting and Welcoming, Choir, Serving, Chalice Administrant, Reading of the Scriptures, Leading the Prayers of the People, Sunday School teacher, Refreshments. We are all trained in how to best offer our gift and we lay it before the Lord for the wholeness and wellbeing of the community.
Music Music is a major aspect of our worship and we use both a pipe organ and a grand piano to accompany our songs of praise and reflection. A robed choir helps to lead the whole congregation to lift its voice in praise and worship. We use a mixture of traditional hymns and comtemporary songs of praise. We like to draw from a variety of traditions that reflect the people who a part of our family.
Children - We Children are enthusiastically welcomed at St. Helen's. Sunday School (ages 3-12) takes place during the service. The children leave the service to hear and learn about God's Word and return at the time of the peace and participate in communion. There is an area set aside in the church for younger children if they need space for themselves. Parents and caregivers are still able to be a part of the service. Following the service there is a time of fellowship with refreshments. Most people stay and catch up with one another.
In the Service Itself...
Gathering - After a welcome and opening words to gather us, we begin with hymns of praise and prayers of preparation. Our understanding is that as we are gathered, we are made to be one together, the body of Christ.
The Proclamation of the Word The gathering leads us to the Proclamation of God's Word. Here we listen to readings of both the Old and New Testaments. The Gospel reading, often focussing on the words of Jesus, or story of His life, is read from the middle of the worship space which, in part, symbolizes God's presence in the midst of us. Following the readings a relevant message and reflection is preached and shared with the congregation. This is based on the readings and our life today.
Prayers of the People One could almost say that this is a time of transition from God's Word to a Celebration of the sacrament. During the prayers of the people we pray for the church, the world, our communities, for peace, for justice, the homeless, those who are ill or in any kind of need or trouble. People bring their prayers to God through the prayers of the gathered community. At this time we also ask for forgiveness for the times and ways we have gone astray and hear the words of God's forgiveness to us. We are reconciled and made whole once agaain. It means that we can freely share the peace with one another. Many will mill around the church at this time as we shake hands and express 'the peace of the Lord' be with you' to one another.
The Eucharist The Eucharist means the 'great thanksgiving'. We sing a hymn as we bring bread and wine to the Holy Table and other symbols of our own personal offerings for the ministry and the church's work. The prayer over the bread and wine recalls our understanding of God's journey with a pilgrim people over thousands of years that shaped them to be God's people. Christians understand the fulness of God's presence in the coming of Jesus so we remember the last supper Jesus had with with his disciples when he described the bread and wine shared at that meal as his body and blood. As we share in this meal together, we are made one with Jesus. We not only remember him but receive him in the bread and wine.
All the baptized may come forward at this time to receive the bread and wine. Or, if it is preferred, one may come forward for a blessing. Children who are baptized receive communion as well though most will receive the bread alone and wait until they are older to receive the wine.
The Sending Out After this act of devotion in receiving the sacrament, we pray our concluding prayers, are blessed, and sing a song of praise as we are dismissed and sent out into the world, strengthened and entrusted to take good news out to the places where we live, work, learn, and spend our leisure time as well as to respond to the needs of those around us with acts of compassion.