We're actually in the dead center of a long line of Christian thought that believes one of the main thrusts of Jesus' message is acceptance, openness and inclusion. We see God's overriding attribute--love--made flesh and blood in Jesus Christ.
And Jesus is the host of the party who's first word is always, 'welcome.'
Chris Yaw, Jesus was an Episcopalian (and you can be one too!)
You may be a visitor to Galena who is looking for a place to worship while you are in the area. You may be seeking a new church home. Or, perhaps, a life transition or challenge is causing you to want to find a place of peace and belonging where you can explore your doubts and questions, find meaning in life, and deepen your relationship with God and others. Or where you can serve others who lack of their basic needs, love and human kindness, or justice and mercy.
At Grace Church, you will be welcomed with open arms and an open door. May your exploration of this website give you a sense of who--and why--we are as a faith community and answer some question you may have about what to expect when you visit--and we sincerely hope that you will visit. You can best experience our congregation by joining in a Eucharistic celebration. Just rest assured that wherever you are on your faith journey, you are most welcome here!
The information that follows will introduce you to Grace and to the Episcopal way of worship and service. If you are already an Episcopalian or have worshiped with Episcopal congregations, you will already be familiar with much of this. And yet, by its very nature, the Episcopal Church encompasses a broad range of people from different religious backgrounds and styles of worship that range from the more casual to the highly ceremonial. The foundation and framework that holds us together in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion is the Book of Common Prayer. This, along with our Anglican heritage unites us even as we are free to express our particular identity in music, culture, and traditions.
After 9/11, I felt an intense need to pray. Grace was the only church that was unlocked. There was a sign on the door. "Come in to pray."
The liturgy, the religious purpose, and the extra-ordinary Grace community keeps
me centered and attached to higher things.
I can feel God
in this place.
Grace Church has red front doors, sometimes said to stem from days when people sought safety from invaders or authorities, they could find it in a church with red doors. Except on the most blustery of days, the red door should be open when you arrive. For those who cannot manage the stairs, please use the entrance to the Parish House at the far end of the parking lot. This entrance is accessible to restrooms and to the church, via a ramp.
Inside the entrance, you will encounter someone who will welcome you. At our front door, it is likely to be a a member of the church's Vestry ( governing board). At the Parish House door, it will be one of our Greeter Team. You will receive a service bulletin, answers to your questions, guidance to a pew, and, if needed, a children's activity bag. While we are very glad to have you with us, we don't want you to feel pressured or overwhelmed. We won't ask you to give money or sign up for a committee. You may receive a visitor card from the Greeter that you can fill out and return if you wish to know more about our church, be placed on our e-newsletter list, or request a visit. Your presence itself is a gift. We will try to respect your personal space and let you participate in whatever way is comfortable for you.
Some people spend the time before the beginning of the service kneeling or sitting in prayer and contemplation. It will not be totally silent, however, with people coming and going, greeting one another, and the choir warming up in the adjacent chapel. If you aren't familiar with our liturgy, you might want to look through the service bulletin and locate the blue hymnal in the pew rack. Nearly everything you will need may be found in the bulletin with the exception of the hymns.
At just about 10:25 am or so, the organist/pianist will begin the prelude, and the clergy and altar party will form the entering procession. At the conclusion of the prelude, the church bells ring, the congregation stands, and the processional hymn begins. Some will bow as the cross goes by.
My wife insisted I go with her. I thought: "What kind of church is this? No hell! No brimstone! I liked it!
If you are unfamiliar with the ritual customs of the Episcopal Church, simply relax with the liturgy and let the rest of the congregation carry you in worship. You are welcome to participate as little or as much as you are comfortable. Our participation involves our whole selves: our minds, spirits, and our bodies as we stand, sit, kneel, and walk forward for communion. In general, we sit to listen, kneel to pray, and stand to sing and hear the gospel proclaimed. You will notice, though, that as some people are unable to kneel, they will stand instead for prayer.
Nearly every Sunday, our service is one of Holy Eucharist. Except in Lent, when we use the older language of Rite I, the text comes from Rite II in the Book of Common Prayer or from the authorized supplement Enriching Our Worship. The service takes place in two parts. The service of the Word is first and includes the readings, the sermon, the Nicene Creed, Prayers of the People and the Prayer of Confession and Absolution. Following the Absolution, we share the Peace of Christ. Here at Grace, we pause for a few announcements and the blessing of birthdays and anniversaries.
The Communion begins with the Offertory when the gifts of bread, wine, and our financial commitments are brought to the altar. On occasion, we also have additional gifts that are dedicated, such as prayer shawls, school supplies or other special collections for our mission partners. The Eucharistic Prayer then begins. When the distribution of communion starts, people come forward by rows in the center aisle, guided by the Vestry Coordinator to the altar rail. You may either kneel or stand, and the altar server will come to you. The elements are bread and wine. Gluten free wafers are also available. We receive the wine from a common cup; however, some prefer to dip the bread into the cup. If you want only the bread, please indicate that to the server by crossing your arms across your chest. If you do not wish to receive either element, the priest will give you a blessing instead. After, you return to your pew by the outside aisle. Want to know more about our sacraments? Look here.
The service comes to its conclusion with the sending out of Eucharistic Ministers to those who are home bound and is followed by the Post-Communion Prayer, blessing, and retiring procession. And yet, there is no conclusion. We are sent out, fed and strengthened, to continue our service in the world. For more information on our worship, check here.
after the mass
Most Sundays, a social hour follows in our Parish Hall adjacent to the church. We share light refreshments and conversation. The Greeter will check in with you to introduce you to others and to the rector if you wish or to walk with you to the fully accessible Parish House that is connected to the church building. We do understand if you are not ready to do so.
Little ones are always welcome! We love to worship together. Activity bags are available from a greeter. If you need a little quiet time without your infants or toddlers, though, there is a staffed nursery available from 9:30 to the end of worship. Ask the greeter or the Vestry Coordinator. Want to know about our children's and youth programs? Look here.
what do I wear?
You are likely to see a few hats and ties. Or some shorts and sandals. Most are in the middle with casual, comfortable clothes. We are air conditioned in summer, so be prepared with a shawl or sweater if you tend to be cold. Bottom line: come as you are.
where do I park?
Like other historic churches in Galena, parking is always a challenge. Our parking lot in front of the Parish House has designated spaces for those with limited mobility. There are a number of street spots on Prospect Street in front of and to the south of the church.
what's next? how do I participate?
Worship, education, outreach, and fellowship activities are open to all people. You may complete the information card with your contact information to receive the weekly e-newsletter and calendar of events. Or sign up on the "subscribe" button on the home page.
If you are interested in membership, click here where you can download a booklet explaining the different ways of being part of Grace Church. But remember, membership in the Episcopal Church simply begins with baptism, and baptism by water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in other denominations is recognized. To learn more about participating in any of our ministries, go here.