Anglican Worship: What to Expect

So you’ve decided to visit an Anglican church. Maybe you’ve always passed a local church and wondered what goes on inside. Perhaps a friend has invited you to come to her church, or you’re attending a wedding or another celebration. No matter what the reason, you are very welcome at one of our churches. If you have never attended church – or even if you have but much time has passed – many sights and sounds may be unfamiliar to you. This brief guide might help.

Anglicans believe that the most important thing we do as Christians is gather together for worship. Our main opportunity to do so is the Sunday morning worship service, also known as Eucharist, Communion or Mass. Many congregations also have worship services during the week. The easiest way to find out about services in your chosen church is to visit its website or call the church office. For websites and phone numbers of churches in the Diocese of Toronto, visit the Find a Church section.

Show up a few minutes early. More often than not, there will be a friendly greeter who will provide you with a leaflet with details of the service. Pick a seat and relax. In the pew, you will probably find books, which might include the Book of Common Prayer or the more modern Book of Alternative Services. These set out the form of the service for each Christian season and provide the text for most of the prayers. You will also find a hymnal, which is a book you can use to sing along when the congregation is singing hymns. Some congregations put all the hymns for a particular service into the service leaflet.

Most services are a mix of readings, prayers, hymns and a sermon. You might be wondering when you should do what: kneel, sit, stand, say Amen. Just relax and follow what others are doing. Enjoy the music, the words of the Bible and the silences, and contemplate the symbols and images – the cross, the altar, the candles, the stained glass windows – that enhance the worship space.

Most congregations have coffee hour after the Sunday service. Feel free to join in and mingle, but don’t feel obligated to do so. If you do stay, introduce yourself to the priest and ask questions. Pick up flyers about upcoming events and services. And most importantly, come back! We’d love to see you.