Explain to me a Anglican church service...

(15 Posts)
Hopemore Sun 22-Sep-13 22:25:54

Is it rude to remain seated when the vicar ask to stand up even if the person is able to stand?

Is it rude not to give money for the collection and what is the minimum?

Why do people go have wine and bread? Is it rude not to want to drink wine from the glass everyone has been sharing?

Hopemore Sun 22-Sep-13 23:09:13

And why there is no Sunday Church for children on the 1st Sunday of the month?

nicename Sun 22-Sep-13 23:16:58

Why do you want to know?

Buttercup4 Sun 22-Sep-13 23:18:50

Happy to answer those questions, but as the PP has said, why do you want to know?

sonlypuppyfat Sun 22-Sep-13 23:23:01

I'm sure the vicar won't mind if you can't stand up, why would he want to see you struggle?

IrisWildthyme Sun 22-Sep-13 23:42:15

Hello

I would hope that most people in a church service would be kind enough not to get judgey on someone who didn't stand at the standing parts. This would always be understood if someone wasn't able to stand. If they were able to stand but were there as a "visitor" rather than a member of the congregation then staying seated would also be reasonable. I don't think people would generally think it rude, but would assume that the person wasn't wholeheartedly enthusiastic about being there if there wasn't a physical impediment to joining in.

It isn't rude not to give money for the collection - it's supposed to be a free-will offering and as such it would be better to not give than to give grudgingly. Churches do however cost a lot to run and given that no-one has to be there, anyone who isn't being forced to be there must be getting something out of it so a modest gift isn't a ridiculous proposition. However, not everyone can afford to give much and what and whether you give should be between you and God - not subject to being judged by anyone else. There is a story in the bible about how God values the tuppence given joyfully (by someone who can't really afford it) way more than the much larger gift given by someone self-centred who is only giving so that other worshippers could see them doing it. There's no minimum. If you are a regular, it is kinder to the church officials to set up a standing order of whatever you can afford to go straight into the churches account, as that reduces the accounting workload.

We all share wine and bread from the same cup/loaf/source (depending on the particular church tradition) to symbolise that we are all one body (i.e. one community and one family all together) and that we are, in effect, the "body of Christ" in the world - if we do good for Christ's sake then our hands are Christ's hands. The wine has a stronger alcohol content than ordinary table wine, strong enough to kill off any stray germs. Some churches will allow people to receive communion to retain the bread and dip it a tiny bit into the wine cup so that you get a drop of wine without touching the cup - that's fairly unusual though. Most people don't worry about it and I've never caught a bug from taking a sip of wine from the common cup.

The Sunday church for children schedule will be particular to a specific church and a different CofE church would have a different schedule. You'd have to ask your own minister the exact reason why but I would suspect it would be a combination of all of the following to some extent: (i) to remind the elderly members of the congregation that we are ALL the body of Christ, even those of us who are under the age of 10, and that it is good for them to develop a little tolerance for the occasional clatter of toy and general lack-of-total-silence-from-the-children, (ii) to enable the church to offer some more inclusive and accessible worship and teaching once a month, (iii) to allow the children to see what goes on in the main service and get used to it occasionally, or (iv) to give the sunday school leaders an occasional chance to have a sunday off.

Hopemore Sun 22-Sep-13 23:50:29

Thank you so much IrisWildthyme
I appreciate it.

Tuo Mon 23-Sep-13 00:02:39

Hello Hopemore. Happy to answer your questions, though you may find answers to these and more questions [[ http://anglicansonline.org/basics/expect.html on this website]], which is American (I think) but covers most of the basics of Anglican worship wherever you are.

In answer to your specific questions:

It's customary to stand for certain parts of the service and to sit (and sometimes kneel) for others. In some churches you may also move in your seat (e.g. in my church the gospel is read from the middle of the central aisle rather than from a pulpit or lectern, and the congregation turns to face the place from where it's being read). However, if it's difficult to stand then it's fine to sit. If you stay seated, I imagine most people will assume it's because you find it difficult to stand (whatever the real reason is), not that you are being somehow rude and defiant.

It's not rude not to put money in the collection. People should give whatever feels right to them and what they can afford. There are all sorts of debates about this, but there is no single 'correct' answer. I sometimes take up the collection, and if people don't reach into their pockets when they see me coming then I just keep going - I'd rather miss someone who intended to give (they can always put money in later if they want to) than stand next to someone who doesn't want to or can't afford to making them feel uneasy about it. Anyway, some people give by Direct Debit, so there's no way of knowing from who puts what in the plate who is actually giving and who isn't.

Why do people go and have bread and wine would require a longer answer than I have time for. The simple answer is that they do it because Jesus told his followers to do it in remembrance of him. What the bread and wine are or represent may vary depending on the different denomination, church or individual, but basically there is always the sense of fulfilling a direct instruction from Jesus before his death on the Cross.

Who can take communion also varies depending on the individual church. Some will say any baptised Christian of any denomination, some require you to have been confirmed into the Anglican Communion, and others have a halfway house scenario with a special service of admittance to Holy Communion. You should see what it says in your service booklet if you have one (ours is very clear on who can take communion and what to do if you prefer just to receive a blessing), or, if it's not clear, ask the vicar.

If you don't want to share wine from a chalice that others have been drinking from (or, indeed, if you have a nasty cold which you don't want to share with all and sundry) it's fine to dip the bread in the wine rather than to drink from the chalice. (NB this works better if you're in a church that uses communion wafers rather than 'real bread' - with real bread there's a danger of disintegration and a crumbs-in-the-chalice situation.)

Finally, the no Sunday Church for Children on the first Sunday of the month will be a local arrangement and you could ask the vicar of the person who organises Children's Church. It may be that once a month they have an 'all age' service, with the children in the main service rather than out at Sunday School or Junior Church or whatever they call it... But it's impossible to know exactly - you will need to ask on that one.

Please don't ever feel afraid to ask. No-one will mind - you don't have to show up already knowing all the answers. Just to whatever you feel comfortable with and enjoy.

HTH and best wishes

Tuo Mon 23-Sep-13 00:04:52

Sorry, my keboard is on its last legs and it puts spaces where they are not needed, hence messing with my links. Here is the website I was trying to link to.

Tuo Mon 23-Sep-13 00:07:36

X-posted. Sorry... But good to see I agree with Iris on most things. In my church, though, to intinct (dip) rather than drink from the chalice is not at all unusual, especially among younger communicants (under 18s).

Anthracite Mon 23-Sep-13 05:57:55

We don't expect visitors to give money to support our ministries.

We don't even have an offering during the service. We have a box at the entrance to the church where people can give but, out of a congregation of over 400, we collect less than £10 on any given Sunday.

Hopemore Mon 23-Sep-13 08:16:13

Thanks for the kind helpful answers.

frontpaw Mon 23-Sep-13 09:10:46

I would assume that because of the questions, you aren't a member of the church, or have been confirmed (in which case the good old fortified wine isn't an issue). The wine is quite high in alcohol content as an open bottle may be used for over a month. I work with suppliers too, and you can get half decent Free Trade communion wine these days.

Our church (I work there) is pretty much 'let it all hang out' so there is no donation plate (envelopes are available at the back of you wish) and you can sit, stand, do the hokey kokey and no-one will bat an eyelid.

There are regular 'all age' services, when the various sunday schools aren't running (about once a month) when the kids run around during the service and its very relaxed.

My own old church was a bit more 'high' so not quite so 'cool'. Friendly, welcoming but someone may well tug your elbow if you don't get up/down as they'd assume you didn't know 'the moves'.

When in doubt, sit at the back, observe and smile. They won't bite, and if you stay for tea, you can ask all the questions you may have.

mummytime Mon 23-Sep-13 09:21:20

If the Vicar (or other Church leader) verbally tells you to stand or sit; it is usually their attempt to help visitors, as when exactly to stand and sit varies from Church to Church. If you want to join in, its often good to follow the people in the front pew (who usually know what they are doing). This is especially useful in services where there is a sung Psalm which ends with the Gloria; where you sit for the Psalm and then stand for the Gloria.
You never have to take communion, you can usually ask for a blessing instead if you want to go up, or you can just stay in the pew.

In my church we get a lot of visitors so I will say - 'please stand for/sit for' to help those who are with us for the first time. If you don't want to stand then there will be other people who are sitting due to various reasons including dodgey ankles, hips, pregnancy etc.

In the C of E the general rule is that if you have not been confirmed then you don't take communion. Anyone can come up for a blessing or sit where they are if they don't want to come up.

I used to be in a church which had a number of people with ASD in it and our service booklets were very good at explaining why we did what we did as we were told it was helpful. I would like to do the same thing with my current church as it isn't always as clear in the booklet what to do and when.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now