Thanks for your interest in St. Paul’s Church. It’s our delight to welcome you to Newburyport and to our community of faith. We know it can feel a little awkward to visit a church for the first time. You can be sure of one thing, though: whoever you are, you are welcome at St. Paul’s.
Here’s what you can expect if you join us for worship.
During the summer we have one service at 9:00, including hymns and songs.
During the fall, winter, and spring months we usually have two services, but please check our website because sometimes this varies.
8:00 am — mostly spoken worship, done by 9:00
10:15 am — several hymns and songs along with spoken worship, done by about 11:30
We have adult and youth forums at 9:15. Sunday School for children starts with a snack at 9:45 and class at 10:00.
We are an Episcopal church (a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion); that means we celebrate the Liturgy of Holy Eucharist, sometimes called “the Mass.” From the ancient Church we have inherited the same liturgical traditions as our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran traditions.
You will hear formal prayers, two or three Bible readings and a Psalm. You’ll hear a sermon with one or more of the Bible readings as its text. We use Rite II from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer for most of our Sunday services.
You’ll hear us recite the story of our shared faith in the Nicene or Apostles’ Creed. Please join in saying it with us if you see your way clear to do so. We’ll pray, again with formal prayers, for the church, for our communities, and for the life of the world.
We’ll join voices and ask God to free us from our sins, and one of our clergy people will remind us all that God actually does forgive us. We all need God’s forgiveness.
We’ll share the peace of God. We tend to run around the church shaking hands with each other saying “peace be with you.” A few people hug each other, but most don’t.
This is the table, not of the Church, but of the Lord. It is to be made ready for those who love God and for those who hope to love God more.
So, come, you who have faith and you who have doubts. Come if you have been here often, and come if you have not been here long. Come if you have followed, and come if you have stumbled. Come, because it is the Lord who invites you. It is Christ’s will that those who seek him will meet him here at his table. Come!
In other words, you are welcome at Communion. We mean it. But some people choose not to partake and that is fine too.
We then have a blessing, sing a hymn, and we’re on our way, either to coffee hour or home. Coffee hour usually has some good treats and always has good conversation.
We are young families and older folks. Some of us are singles. Some of us are different-sex and same-sex couples, including some of both kinds with kids.
Recently Rector Martha Hubbard asked, “raise your hand if you were born Episcopalian.” Less than half the hands went up. Many of us were raised Roman Catholic. A few of us come from Baptist traditions. Our assistant rector is a Lutheran pastor, serving at St. Paul’s with the permission of his bishop. We come from many denominations and none.
We don’t sit in assigned pews or anything like that. Don’t worry about doing something wrong. And, please forgive us if we crowd around you saying “hi.” Sometimes we go a little overboard welcoming visitors. It’s OK if you sit in the back and slip out after worship, but please do say hello to one of our clergy people if you get a chance.
It’s our honor to welcome you. We hope to see you. God’s peace and blessings.