GRACE and ST JOHN’S
An Episcopal church in the diocese of Connecticut
2927 Dixwell Avenue (P. O. Box 185065), Hamden, CT 06518
Prayer, music, the sacraments and the church seasons lift our spirits and anchor our lives.
SUNDAY WORSHIP AT GRACE & ST PETER'S
During “normal” times, our Sunday Eucharists are dignified yet also informal.
At the 8:00 am service the congregation is small and intimate, and the atmosphere quiet.
The main service is at 10:00 am, with hymns and other music, Sunday school and nursery for children,
and coffee hour afterwards.
During the pandemic emergency, we have not been able to hold our usual worship services.
For several months, we relied on livestreaming Sunday morning worship and virtual coffee hour, via Zoom and Facebook. Then, with the arrival of summer weather and some relaxation of lockdown rules in Connecticut, we have been sharing outdoor, socially-distanced morning worship with St John’s Episcopal Church,
North Haven, on their side lawn, every Sunday at 9 am (weather permitting, of course).
Video is posted afterwards. Links to all these resources are at the top of the home page.
What Happens During Worship?
Our source for worship is the Book of Common Prayer (1979) of the Episcopal Church. You can browse the Book of Common Prayer online here.
Worship is often called “liturgy,” an ancient word that means “the work of the people.” Worshiping together is essential to our life as a Christian community, and supports everything else that we do. Our gatherings for worship are open and welcoming to all comers.
In our regular Sunday worship, known as Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion,
we hear Bible readings and a sermon, that remind us of the stories, the promises, and the challenges of God’s call to us;
we sing and pray, and bless and share the bread and wine, to remember Jesus and to nourish his ongoing life within us and among us;
we are sent out to live our daily lives, strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
Worship also includes
the observance of the great festivals of the church’s year such as Christmas and Easter, and the seasons of Advent, Lent, and Holy Week that prepare for these festivals
celebrations of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and funerals
other special occasions at times of joy or concern, in our life together or in the wider community
regular or occasional small gatherings other than Sundays and festivals
What do I wear?
Come as you are! Grace & St. Peter’s is not a stuffy place. Most of us come to church dressed somewhere between casual and informal. You’ll see some suits and ties, dresses and heels, but more jeans, slacks, polo shirts and other comfortable seasonal wear. The sanctuary is air-conditioned in summer, and comfortably heated in cold weather.
Where do I park?
There is a small parking lot behind the church. A couple of spaces there are reserved for visitors. Or you can turn into the large lot next door, behind the four-story office building at 2911 Dixwell, where there is ample parking just steps away from the church.
Where is the door?
You can come in through the red front doors facing Dixwell Avenue, where you’ll be greeted by an usher who will give you a service leaflet. Or, from the church parking lot, you can go up the ramp on the west side of the building, which will bring you into a large meeting room. Continue through this room into the hallway and from there you can enter the church worship space. You can help yourself to a leaflet from the little shelf just inside the door.
How do I follow along with the service?
In the pew racks there are copies of the Book of Common Prayer, in which you can follow along with the service. Page references and hymns are regularly announced. We sing from several different hymnals; there are copies of all of them in the pews. If you’re confused, look around you to see which book your neighbors are using, or ask someone to help you!
Is there a money offering?
In the Episcopal tradition, Sunday worship includes a money offering to support the work of the church. An offering plate is passed, and you may put in any amount you wish; nobody will be watching or judging you.
Proclaiming the Word
Sunday worship includes several readings from Holy Scripture: usually, one from the Old Testament, one from the letters of St. Paul (and others) to the early churches, and one from the Gospels.
We also read or sing a Psalm together.
How long is the service, and how long is the sermon?
Our usual Sunday services run a little over an hour. The sermon is usually 10 to 12 minutes in length. The 8:00 am service is a little shorter than the main 10:00 am service.
What about communion?
All who are seeking Christ are invited to come forward for communion. If you wish to receive the bread, hold out your hands and the priest will give you a piece. You may eat it and then also receive a sip of wine from the chalice, helping the chalice-bearer to guide the cup to your lips; or you may hold it and dip it in the cup. You may receive only the bread (without wine) if you choose.
Babies and children who have been baptized, are encouraged to begin receiving communion as soon as they are physically able to do so.
If you do not wish to receive communion, you may remain in your seat, or else come forward for a blessing. To signal this at the altar, please cross your arms in front of your chest and the celebrant will bless you rather than giving you the bread.
What happens after church?
After worship, you may be greeted by the priest or a some church members who will introduce themselves and offer you a visitor’s bag with some items to introduce you to our church. You may wish to join us for coffee hour, an informal gathering with refreshments and conversation.
Occasionally, there may be a meeting or rehearsal or some other event after church.
What about children?
Children are joyfully welcomed. If you are new or visiting and would rather stay together as a family, there is no pressure to send your children to nursery care or Sunday school.
A “Play and Pray” area is available with playthings, books, open carpeted floor space, a rocking chair, other seating, and good sightlines to the altar, for children and families who wish to use it.
Children from Sunday school are brought into church in time to join their parents for the consecration and sharing of bread and wine at communion.
WORSHIP IS THE CENTER
... of our life with God and the world.
Through the changing seasons, the church’s celebrations connect us with the cycles of nature and of our own lives,
and help us translate the story of the Bible, and of Jesus’s life, into our own story.
The Church’s year begins with the seasons of Advent and Christmas, when we celebrate the coming of God among us
as a human baby. Next comes a period of 5 to 9 weeks, when we recall the early stages of Jesus’s ministry—his baptism, calling of the disciples, and preaching and healing.
Six and a half weeks before Easter, we enter the season of Lent, a time to reflect on our mortality and brokenness,
to cleanse our hearts, reach out to our neighbors, and prepare ourselves to walk with Jesus the way of the Cross that leads to the overwhelming Easter joy of Christ’s victory over death.
The Easter season lasts for seven weeks, and ends with the celebration of Pentecost, marking the gift of the Holy Spirit and the “birthday of the Church.”
Then, for the remainder of the church year—about six months, till the beginning of the next Advent season—we delve in detail into the life and teachings of Jesus, reading through the stories of his ministry of healing love as recorded in the Gospels. Every Sunday we also read from the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament).
In 2020, our stories are taken from the Gospel according to Matthew, and our reading of the Old Testament features the foundational stories of Genesis and Exodus.
Due to the pandemic emergency,
our observances of Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost were very atypical!
We found companionship and assurance of God’s unbounded love, in simple online worship
with prayer, scripture, and preaching. Those who wished to were able to tune in to more elaborate video or livestream worship from Washington National Cathedral and other churches with the resources to offer it.
As the state of Connecticut has continued in its careful process of gradual reopening,
we have been grateful for the opportunity to assemble together outdoors, at a safe distance,
for a simple service of scripture and prayer on Sunday mornings,
on the lawn at St John’s, North Haven, along with members of that congregation.
And we continue to hold each other in our hearts, stay in touch, and reach out to our neighbors
via Dinner for a Dollar and other ministries.
ADVENT, CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY
at Grace & St Peter’s
From the lighting of the first candle on the Advent wreath in early December, to the visit of the Magi on January 6,
the season celebrating God's coming among us as a human child was full of special opportunities to gather
in prayer and praise.
“PEOPLE, LOOK EAST”
December 22 at the 10:00 service
Children, teens and adults joined together in a dramatized service of lessons and carols retelling the story of salvation, and forming a hinge from the yearning anticipation of Advent to the joyous celebration of Christmas.
The Visit of the Magi
January 6 at the 10:00 am service
We closed out the Christmas season with a visit from the Three Kings bearing gifts, and marked the church doors with a blessing in their name.