ALL ARE WELCOME HERE
Welcome to St. Paul's Episcopal Church!
We're glad you're here. Whoever you are, and wherever you are on your
spiritual journey, you are invited to discover the love of God in Christian
community with us. Whether you are a life-long Episcopalian, a former
member of another Christian church, or someone who doesn’t know
what or whether to believe, you will find a place here.
If you want to connect with God, and you want to do that in a place that
cares for you and honors you, please give us a try. Christian faith is a
journey, and we invite you to join us on that journey—learning more
about God and the Bible, celebrating the love and forgiveness of
Jesus Christ, struggling together with the tough questions of life and
faith, and being part of something that is deep and fulfilling.
Joining us for worship is the best way to get to know us. Come as you are and participate as you feel comfortable.
You will find that St. Paul's is a very friendly, inclusive church. We embrace people of all ages and backgrounds. Our leaders and members are men and women; people who are married or not married; people who have or don't have children; people who are gay or straight; people with or without physical and mental disabilities; people of different races, languages and cultures; and people of varying educational and socio-economic backgrounds. And, yes, we are especially happy to have children of all ages here.
We truly believe that God loves us all and has placed gifts in all of us, and that the church is blessed when it can receive all those gifts and make space for people to use them. St. Paul's is God's house, a place where you can find support and joy—no matter who you are. Come experience the transforming love of God at St. Paul's church!
If you are new to the Episcopal Church here are some answers to questions you may have about the Episcopal Church and about St. Paul's in particular:
What should I wear?
People wear a variety of clothing styles to our services. Anything from jeans to suits and ties
blend right in. Wear what works for you. We’re glad to have you with us!
Where should I sit?
Please sit in whatever part of the church you feel most comfortable. There’s no reserved
seating here! If you arrive late and things seem a bit crowded, the ushers handing out
bulletins at the door will be happy to help you find a seat.
What are those two books everybody is using?
The blue book is the hymnal, where you will find all music sung at the service. The numbers in the service bulletin indicate where to find each song. Numbers that start with an “S” are “service music” and are found at the front of the hymnal, while numbers without a letter start further back. Occasionally we may use a hymn from outside the hymnal, and the bulletin will indicate where to find it, usually on a separate piece of paper inserted in the bulletin.
The red book is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), which contains the order of service and all the prayers spoken together.
What's with all the getting up and down?
Our service does involve a fair amount of movement. Traditionally, members of the congregation stand to sing or recite, kneel to pray, and sit to listen. Feel free to participate as you are able. It is certainly acceptable to remain sitting (or standing) if you have trouble getting up and down.
What is your worship format?
Like almost all churches in the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican/Episcopal tradition, our worship each Sunday follows a liturgical worship format. The first part of the service is the “liturgy of the word,” which includes readings from the Old Testament and New Testament, usually followed by a short sermon, prayers for the church and for the world, confession, and sharing of the peace. In the second part of the service, the “liturgy of the table,” we hear the story of the Last Supper and partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine. Communion is offered every Sunday at St. Paul's.
The 5:00 pm Saturday service does not include music, while the 10:45 Sunday service includes our choir and hymns accompanied by the organ.
Am I allowed to take Communion? What do I do?
All are welcome at the altar, and all baptized people are welcome to share in the Eucharist.
To take the bread (wafer), hold out your hands with the right on top of your left. The priest
will place the bread in your palm. You may either eat the bread or hold it in your hand to dip
in the chalice when it is offered.
If you choose to dip the bread in the cup, it is helpful if you hold it so that the person serving
the wine can see it; he or she will then hold the cup for you to dip the edge of your bread.
If you wish to eat the bread and then drink the wine, it is helpful if you reach out and guide the
cup to your lips to take a sip.
If you wish, you may have a blessing instead of taking the bread. Simply cross your arms over
your chest and the priest will know you wish to be blessed. You may also cross your arms if
you don’t wish to take any wine, and the server will simply skip over you.
If I'm new, will I have to stand up and be recognized?
No. We are always delighted to have newcomers with us, and you will be invited to identify yourself by signing our guest register or completing a newcomer’s card. This allows us to contact you by e-mail or phone (if you wish) to extend our welcome and provide information.
Are children welcome in church?
Definitely! Children of all ages are welcome to attend the entirety of any of our worship services if they (and you) wish. Unlike some churches we do not have a nursery or a “cry room,” but we understand that small children sometimes “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” (and sometimes noises not so joyful). Often parents sit towards the back of the church so that they can take their children outside if needed, but some of us have found that our children are more interested and engaged if we sit right up front so they can see. Wherever you choose, we love having children present and encourage them to participate in the service as they are able.
Is there Sunday School?
Yes! Sunday School for children ages 3 through junior high school takes place during the Sunday service starting at 10:30 am.
Before and After the Service
Where are you located?
We are in the heart of Gardner, MA on the corner of Cross and School Streets. The address is 79 Cross St., Gardner, MA 01440.
Where can I park?
St. Paul's has a small parking lot that can accommodate approximately 20 cars. However, there is a lot of parking available nearby and it is easy to find a spot within a half block of the church. A few handicapped spots are also available in the church parking lot.
Hey, is that coffee I see?
It sure is! After the 10:45 service, coffee and snacks are served in the fellowship foyer (the “Narthex” outside the sanctuary). Please join us. We’d love to meet you!