Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Episcopal Church?
The Episcopal Church is the American branch of the Anglican Communion, an inheritor of 2000 years of catholic and apostolic tradition dating from Christ himself, rooted in the Church of England. When the Church of England spread throughout the British Empire, sister churches sprang up in many countries. These churches, while autonomous in their governance, are bound together by tradition, Scripture, and common roots in the Church of England. They together make up the Anglican Communion, a body headed spiritually by the Archbishop of Canterbury and having some 80 million members, making it the second largest Christian body in the world.
The Episcopal Church came into existence as an independent denomination after the American Revolution. Today it has between two and three million members in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, all of which are under jurisdiction of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
What do Episcopalians believe?
Episcopalians believe in a Trinitarian God - a God of creation, redemption, and constant presence and love. Accordingly, the Episcopal Church subscribes to the historic Creeds (the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed), considers the Bible to be divinely inspired, and holds the Eucharist (or Lord's Supper) to be the central act of Christian worship. However, it also grants great latitude in interpretation of doctrine. It tends to stress less the confession of particular beliefs than the use of the Book of Common Prayer in public worship. The prayer book is essential to the character of the Episcopal Church as it holds together congregations with very different styles of worship within the church's broader traditions of Christian belief and practice.
In the United States, the Episcopal Church represents a "middle road" between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant traditions. It couples a rich liturgical practice with an emphasis on the formation of Christians through the education of children and adults. It seeks to be a "house of prayer for all people" and actively welcomes all who seek a closer relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Why should I choose St. Andrew's Episcopal Church?
For over seventy-five years, the parish of St. Andrew's has been the spiritual home to many saints. The people of our parish have always played a strong and vital role in the life of our diocese and community. We have been blessed to share our traditions, worship and the proclamation of God's word with countless people seeking a closer knowledge of Jesus Christ. We are a warm, loving and sharing community, eager to include all of God's people in the embrace of our faith and worship.
During the service, who may take the Eucharist?
All are welcome to receive Holy Communion each Sunday who have been baptized and admitted to Communion in their own tradition.
Are children welcome at services?
All children are welcome to the services at St. Andrew's, but if you seek an alternative, childcare for infants and toddlers is available in the nursery in the undercroft. If your children are with you during the service, you are free to use our "crying room" for those times when you would like to be a part of the service but feel the need to separate yourself and a child from the rest of the congregation. The "crying room" is located to the right of the altar near the exit (facing the altar).
How could I get to know the congregation?
Attending a variety of services and staying for the coffee hour after each service is a good opportunity to introduce yourself to members of the congregation. Joining one of the groups or committees or participating in activities and events are also a good ways to meet other active members of the parish.
What opportunities are there for me to share my talent and time with St. Andrew's?
Members have many opportunities to share their time and talent with St. Andrew's by serving on one of our committees, helping with a special event, singing in the choir, teaching Church School and many other activities. The ministries page of this website has a list of many of the committees, ministries and groups of the parish.
How is the church supported?
St. Andrew's is primarily supported through annual pledges made by the members of the congregation and plate offerings at each service.
What do I need to do to have my child baptized?
The first step is to contact Jan Brega, our parish administrator, in the church office (413/567-5901) to set up an appointment with the Rector. At that time, the Rector will determine what your next steps will be. Baptism is officially celebrated four times a year: All Saints Sunday in November; the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (the Sunday after Epiphany) in January; Holy Saturday night and throughout the Easter Season until Pentecost. At St. Andrew's we often celebrate Baptisms on the Sunday after Easter.
What must I do to be baptized, confirmed, received into or married in the Episcopal Church?
Baptism is not only a first step, it is the critical step. It is the sacrament that initiates a person into the church, makes the person a child of God, and an inheritor of eternal life.
Confirmation (or as it is officially known, an Adult Affirmation of Baptismal Vows) usually takes place following a two year course of instruction, Christian service, and formation which takes place during the 9th and 10th grades. For older adults, an intensive course called an Inquirer's Class, taught by the Rector, prepares the candidate for confirmation. A similar course of formation prepares adults whose background has been in other branches of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic church to be received into the Episcopal Church.
In preparation to be married at St. Andrew's, a couple must first contact the rector six months prior to the setting of a date. There is a minimum of four meetings with the rector. The church does not allow outside clergy to officiate at weddings or for the church to be used for secular rites.
A meeting with the Rector set up via the parish administrator, Jan Brega, is necessary to initiate any of these sacraments.