One of the things I’ve never been quite sure how to do is to properly publicize the 9 AM Family Service at St. George’s.

I don’t normally blog about things so specific to St. George’s day to day operations.  But I was talking about this service with a Lutheran colleague this past week.  He liked what we were doing.  And he noted that it was a lot of extra work to prepare this service.  Which is right.  We’ve put a lot of work (and continue to put a lot of work) into this service to provide something fresh and new.  I’ve just never known quite how to market the service beyond our own congregation.

We are an Episcopal Church, and it is an Episcopal service.  But it’s what in Episcopal circles would be called a Rite III Eucharist — a less formal service (than is normal for Episcopalians) structured from an outline.  Normally these services are not permitted on Sunday mornings.  But our bishop calls this our seeker service and we have permission to use it.  In fact, he’s celebrated using this service.  We’ve called it our Family Service, but that’s perhaps a bit misleading.  It is where families with children usually come.  And it is structured to be kid friendly.  But we have so few children that there are not always children present at the service.

Anyway, we meet in the Parish Hall around a U shaped arrangement of tables and chairs.  We have food and drink available for everyone.  We have some materials for things like coloring and some hand instuments available for the kids.  We start with announcements and a gathering prayer.  We continue (generally) with three opening songs.  Usually we repeat the middle song for a month (and it has some motions that can be used with it).  We ring our Spirit Chimes and read the days gospel reading together in parts.  We respond with song or poetry or an activity.  Then we ring the Spirit Chimes before our second reading.  This is usually a non scriptural reading thematically tied.  But it can also be a video.  Then we have the sermon.  We continue with what are called the Prayers of the People.  And then we pass out confession stones (to lay our sins on) and confess our sins, and collect the stones, and wash them in baptismal water (a practice copied from an Episcopal Church in Half Moon Bay).  We say The Peace.  And then move into a fairly normal Eucharistic Prayer sequence with an offertoy song and the New Zealand Lord’s Prayer.  Communion is passed from person to person around the tables.  And we close, usually with a song, but sometimes with an activity or prayer, followed by the dismissal.  The whole service typically takes less than an hour.

Episcopalians who plan liturgies can easily see that this involes a lot more weekly planning than your typical Episcopal service.  But the community gathered in worship is also much more involved and connected than in your typical Episcopal service.  And it’s a lot easier for people who don’t like to sit still to participate fully.

We’re actually pretty proud of this service.  But, as I said, we really haven’t figured out how to let people know that we are doing this.  It has become a home for some of our newer members.  They seem to be attracted by the difference of this service.  But it’s mostly been something new and different for some of our existing members.