What is a typical Sunday service like?

Our Sunday 10 a.m. service is generally a Mass or Holy Eucharist (communion). This worship service is traditional in form, conducted with great ceremony and care, and following the Book of Common Prayer, which originated in the Anglican (English) church almost 500 years ago.

When you attend a service, you will receive a printed bulletin showing the day’s prayers, hymns, and readings, and directing you when to stand, sit, or kneel. You will hear bells and smell incense, and see processions, crosses, candles, and often colorful banners. Traditional and inspiring music is played on a large pipe organ. The priest, the choir, and altar servers all wear special vestments (robes) appropriate to their role and the season of the church calendar.

What are the basic components of the Mass?

The Mass consists of two major parts:

The first half of the service is called “The Liturgy of the Word” and includes lessons from Holy Scripture read by a lector; a chanted psalm, and a Gospel lesson. This is followed by a sermon, usually based on the day’s scripture readings and lasting between 10 and 20 minutes.

The second half of the service is Holy Communion. The priest leads the congregation in offering up gifts of bread and wine in thanksgiving and remembrance of Jesus’ death and resurrection. These elements are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, and represent the means of uniting the faithful with him and each other.

Worshippers are instructed to come forward, kneel as they are able, and receive this Holy Communion. You may receive the host directly on your tongue or have it placed in the palm of your hand. You may also take a sip of wine directly from the chalice or dip the host into the cup before consuming it. This is called “intinction.” [Note: For the foreseeable post-pandemic future, our church will not be serving consecrated wine and all hosts will be placed into communicants’ hands.]

Who may receive Holy Communion?

All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion at St. George’s regardless of denominational affiliation. If you are not baptized, we invite you to come forward anyway, and simply cross your arms over your chest and the priest will offer you a blessing instead of Holy Communion.

Children who have been baptized are welcome and encouraged to share in Holy Communion. Many parents, however, wait until their children are old enough to be instructed in the meaning and appropriate manner of receiving Holy Communion. Either way, we invite them to come forward with their parents and receive either communion or a blessing.

What if I have a gluten allergy or prefer not to drink alcohol?

During Holy Communion a server is always on hand with gluten-free hosts kept separately from the rest. Simply indicate to the priest if this is your preference at the altar rail.

Christ is fully and completely present in both the elements of bread and wine and therefore it is not necessary to receive both. If the cup is offered and you do not wish to take from it, simply cross your arms to decline.

What’s with the incense?

The use of incense in worship is an ancient practice that predates Christianity and is used in religious rituals all over the world. Incense is mentioned about 170 times in the Bible (refer to Exodus 30:1, Luke 1:8-10, and The Book of Revelation 8:3-4). It symbolizes our devotion to God and creates a sense of mystery, engaging the senses just as beautiful vestments and sacred music do. If you find the incense smoke problematic for health reasons, you may wish to sit in the back of the sanctuary to avoid direct exposure.

How Should I Dress?

We have no dress code here at St. George’s but some basic guidelines may help you to feel more comfortable. The celebration of Mass is a solemn and formal affair. At St. George’s you will find that most of our members dress up a bit for worship. It is not unusual for gentlemen to wear a tie and jacket or women to wear a dress or nice slacks and top. Some occasions are more formal than others, and things relax a bit in the heat of summer, but as a rule we show our respect for our worship by looking our best. That being said, fashion is a personal thing and we absolutely will not take offense if you wear a casual outfit to Mass. Please feel free to come as you are. We only ask that you come with the respect and the dignity most fitting for the worship of God.

Will I have to Stand and Introduce Myself?

No! Visiting a church can be daunting the first time you come. We want you to feel comfortable. You will not be asked introduce yourself publicly. We do, however, encourage you to fill out a communication card (found in most pews) to place it in the offering plate or hand it to a greeter on the way out. If you prefer, you can also submit your information by an email to office@stgeorgesschenectady.org

Do I have to put money in the collection plate?

We of course welcome any donation you wish to make but there is no obligation for visitors to give. For our members, regular giving is a spiritual discipline and supports our parish community. Should you decide to become a member, we would encourage you to make a pledge of financial support. Members are usually invited to submit a pledge on a special Sunday in the fall. To request envelopes for regular giving, please contact our office at office@stgeorgesschenectady.org

You can also make a donation or set up regular contributions online by using the button on the website.

Do you offer Sunday School for children?  What about childcare?  Are children welcome in church?

Children of all ages are welcome to attend the entire service if they (and you) wish.  We understand that small children sometimes “make a joyful noise”.  Often families with toddlers sit towards the back of the church so they can take children outside if needed.

We offer Sunday school during our 10 a.m. Mass for children ages 3 to 8. Lessons generally include a simple Bible lesson (often using the Jesus Storybook Bible) and a craft or art project.  Sunday school children are brought into church for communion and the final portion of Mass. Please visit Sunday School for more information.

Infants and toddlers (with their caregivers) are welcome in our church nursery at any time. There is no formal Christian education for this age group, but the space is warm and inviting, and stocked with plenty of toys, diapers, and other needed supplies. Please contact the church office if you will need care in the nursery.

The nursery and Sunday School classrooms are located upstairs in the Great Hall (the large building off of the parking lot).

Children and teens participate in the life of the church and may serve as acolytes or choir members. Special events for the church’s young people also include an annual Easter Egg Hunt, Vacation Bible School in the summer, and a Christmas Pageant on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.

What services do you offer besides Sunday Mass?

At St. George’s we offer Morning and Evening Prayer several days per week in the chapel. These services include prayers, psalms, canticles, and scripture readings, and are typically small, casual, and brief. A few times each year the choir of St. George’s offers a special service of Choral Evensong, which is a larger and more formal event.  For Morning and Evening Prayer times, see side panel of web pages (on a phone, scroll down near the bottom of page).

Where can I park?

St. George’s has a parking lot on Green Street which is a one way street running west to east from the statue of Lawrence the Indian 50 yards north of the church main entrance.  Turn onto Green Street from either, North Ferry or Front Street, and drive about 50 yards east to the parking lot entrance on your right.  From the parking lot you will see the back of the church with a sidewalk that will lead you to the front entrance of the church.  If the 3 step drop from the parking lot to the sidewalk is an issue, you can cut through our Great Hall (entrance from the parking lot) to avoid stairs.