Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
The Episcopal Church »  |  The Diocese of Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions

What to Expect When You Visit Ware Episcopal Church

Welcome to Ware Church!   We are located on John Clayton Memorial Highway (Route 14) approximately one mile east of Gloucester Court House (travelling towards Mathews).   Visiting a new parish for the first time can be a bit confusing and you may have some questions about us and our worship. In this section we have tried to answer some frequently asked questions that will help you. If you still have questions after reading this section and the rest of the website or after your first visit, the Rector would be delighted to speak with you after the worship service or you may telephone the Parish Office at 804-693-3821.

Sunday morning worship services are held at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.  Sunday School for children is held (September through May) during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service.

 

Some General Questions

Where do I park?

We  have ample parking in front of the Church and the Parish House. Some of our parking places are designated as handicapped spaces for those with disabilities.  You will also find several parking spaces marked especially for our visitors.  If you are new to our parish, these are for you.

Where is the Worship Service held?

Our main Sunday worship takes place in the Church building at the far end of the parking lot.  A sign indicates which door is the main entrance. There are two steps into the Church, but a handicapped ramp is available at the north door and can be put into place by the Ushers upon request. For some Holy Days we use the Chapel of the Christ Child in the Parish House.  The Chapel is also used for our weekly Wendesday morning worship service.

What other buildings are on the campus?

The building to the left as you enter the parking lot is the Parish House. This building contains the Parish Hall for group gatherings such as Coffee Hour after the 10:30 a.m. service, the kitchen, the Sunday School Rooms, and the bathrooms. The entrance on the left leads to the Parish Hall and Sunday School rooms. The entrance on the right leads to the Parish Office, the Chapel of the Christ Child, bathrooms, and the library. The only handicapped entrance to the this building is reached via a ramp on the left side of the building, leading to a back entrance. The only bathrooms are on the Parish House lower level and are not handicapped accessible. 

What can I expect when I arrive for the Worship Service?

You should expect to be greeted warmly and made to feel welcome and at home. Ushers will hand you a bulletin for that day's service and will answer any questions you may have. At the end of the service, the Priest will greet you as you leave, and many members of the congregation usually linger outside the door to greet friends and visitors. A Coffee Hour is held in the Parish House (September – May) and on the church grounds at the church door (June – August) after the 10:30 a.m. service, and we invite you to stay for fellowship, conversation, coffee and refreshments. You will also be encouraged to take a few minutes to fill out a "Visitor Information Card" and leave it with an usher or give directly to the priest.

Do I need to be a member or must I be Episcopalian to attend worship services?

Worship services at Ware Church are open to all; anyone may attend and worship.

How much does it cost?

There is never a cost to worship at Ware. Contributions to the church are entirely voluntary. We pass a collection plate. Anyone may contribute as they wish.

What is the congregation like?                                                                                 

Our congregation is a mixture of young and old. Some who worship here are new to the Gloucester area, while others are members of families that have worshiped at Ware for generations.  

What do people wear?

There is no dress code at Ware. Many parishioners wear what could be described as "business casual" attire. You may also see tee-shirts and jeans. You'll see a few suits and a few more formal dresses.  Come as you are most comfortable.

 

Worship

What is a typical worship service like?

At Ware Church we have two Sunday morning worship services.  The central act of worship in the Episcopal Church is the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion. The liturgy (or format) for both services is found in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and in The Hymnal 1982 (hymnal). The weekly church bulletin will guide you to necessary sections of the BCP and the hymnal. Both books are found in the pews.  If you are new to worship in the Episcopal Church, the best way to learn the liturgy is to experience it.  Don’t get frustrated trying to keep up with all that happens your first visit.  Just be present.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and heart.  It is helpful to sit with someone who is very familiar with the liturgy.  Ask an usher to introduce you to someone that is willing to guide you through the service.

Music is an important part of our worship. We have an excellent Sanctuary Choir, which welcomes new members who wish to help lead the congregation. We also have a wonderful Treble Choir which sings on Youth Sunday each month.

What is the Book of Common Prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer, or the Prayer Book, is what Episcopalians use in worship. Various editions of the Book of Common Prayer have been used by churches of the Anglican communion since the middle 1500s. It contains all of the various liturgies (services) one might see used, including forms for daily prayers, baptisms, weddings, funerals, ordinations, the dedication of buildings, and for the Holy Eucharist. It also includes the Book of Psalms and has directions for conducting and participating in services. For Sunday services, we print a bulletin that tells exactly which pages and which prayers will be used.

How will I know when I should sit or stand?

Often the instructions printed in the Prayer Book will tell you exactly when you should sit, stand, or kneel (if you are able). Directions are also printed in the bulletin for various parts of the service. You can also just watch the people around you. Generally speaking, we sit for readings from the Bible and the sermon; stand to sing and for some prayers; and kneel for some prayers and to take Communion.

Can I take Communion?

All baptized Christians are invited to share Holy Communion at Ware Church, regardless of denomination. However, if you are not Episcopalian, your own denomination may have instructions for you on this matter.

How do I receive the bread and wine in Communion?

At Ware, we use real wine and small wafers for Communion. The Ushers will assist in getting you to and from the communion rail. There are a variety of options when it comes to receiving Communion. First, you may stand or kneel to receive. When the priest comes by with the bread (wafers), hold out your crossed open hands and the bread will be placed there. You may consume the bread then or wait until the Chalicer comes by with the wine, touch the bread lightly to the wine, and then consume it. You may also drink wine directly from the chalice (the common cup). When the Chalicer reaches you, take the base of the chalice lightly with your thumb and forefinger and assist in bringing the chalice to your lips. If you wish to receive the bread only, simply cross your arms over your chest as the Chalicer approaches. Those who are not baptized and those wishing to receive a blessing only are always invited to come to the communion rail for a blessing. Indicate this by crossing your arms over your chest. If you have difficulty approaching the altar rail for communion, let an Usher know and it will be our honor to bring the Sacrament to you in your pew.

If I have not been baptized (or my child has not been baptized), can it be arranged?

If you want to be baptized, or want your children to be baptized, please speak with the Rector. Persons may be baptized at any age. The Prayer Book recommends that Baptism be celebrated as part of the regular service on four specific days during the Church year: the Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints' Day (November 1) or the Sunday following it, and the first Sunday after the Epiphany (January 6). However, Baptism can be arranged at other times when necessary. Anyone Baptized at Ware Church automatically becomes a member of Ware Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in general. All adult candidates for Baptims and parents and Godparents will be asked to attend a brief class on the content and importance of Baptism.

What is the church year?

The Episcopal Church observes the same calendar as most Christian Churches, with the year divided into six seasons.

The first season is Advent, which begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's Day, November 30. It lasts for four weeks, and is a time of preparation for Christmas.

Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts until January 5.

The third season is the Season After the Epiphany (which is called “Ordinary Time” in some traditions), which lasts from January 6 until Ash Wednesday. It can be anywhere from six to eight weeks long.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. Lent is 40 days long, not including Sundays, and is also a time of preparation.

Easter lasts for 50 days, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Easter concludes with the feast of Pentecost.

The Season after Pentecost (which is also called "Ordinary Time" in some traditions) lasts until Advent begins again.

 

Children and Christian Education

Can children take Communion?

All baptized Christians, regardless of age, are welcome to take Communion. Children can take communion at any age; the decision is left up to the parents and child regarding the appropriate age at which to begin. Additionally, parents may bring their children to the communion rail and indicate to the Priest to give the child a blessing instead of the actual Communion.

Can my young children stay with me in the sanctuary during the service?

Yes. Especially if you are visiting for the first time, your children may be more comfortable staying with you during the service.

Do you have a nursery for children?

As of the summer of 2015, there is no official nursery.  During the fall of 2015, the nursery program will be revisited and a nursery will be reestablished. Stay tuned.

Is there a Sunday School?

Sunday School is offered from September through May during the first part of the 10:30 a.m. service.  At 10:15 a.m., the children and youth gather in the Chapel for the Sunday School opening service.  During this 15 minute service, led by the children, songs will be sung, prayers offered, and the priest will share a children’s homily (mini sermon).  At 10:30 a.m., the children attend instruction.  At 11:00 a.m., the children and teachers rejoin their family in the church for the Holy Communion.

What about Sunday school for adults?

An Adult Forum meets between services at 9:30 a.m. each Sunday in the Parish Hall. All adults are welcome and encouraged to attend.

What else is there besides the Sunday service?

Members of Ware Church are involved in several ministries outside of the Sunday worship we all enjoy.Please see other tabs in our website to find ministry opportunities that may interest you.

 

Membership and Weddings

How do I join the Episcopal Church?

If you are already a member of the Episcopal Church, you simply need to ask that your membership be transferred to Ware Episcopal Church from your previous parish.  If you are not already an Episcopalian, you may become a member of Ware Church, and thus the Episcopal Church in general, simply by providing evidence of your Bapism to the Rector and requesting membership. You will then be entered in our Parish Register as a Baptized member. At some future point, the Rector will encourage you to be"received" from your previous denomination or be "confirmed" into the Episcopal Church when the Bishop makes his or her annual visit. Please speak to the Rector about the process of being received or confirmed by the church. This process involves some instruction about the Episcopal Church and receiving the laying on of hands by a Bishop. However, you do not need to be Episcopalian to attend services and take Communion.

Can my fiancé (fiancée) and I get married at Ware Episcopal Church?

Due to its beauty and historic setting, Ware Church receives several requests each year from couples wishing to be married here. Therefore, the current policy at Ware Church is that only those who regularly worship and contribute to the life of the parish may be married here.