What should you expect when you come to a service at St George’s Cathedral? First, come as you are. People will be wearing casual clothing, or suits, skirts or pants. Almost anything except beach attire!
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is used at the 8:00 a.m. service. A greeter will give you a bulletin that includes announcements. Do take it home with you! The clergy (priest) will give directions from page 67. The choir does not sing at 8 o’clock.
You may hear the bells in the bell tower prior to the 10.30 a.m. service; they are usually rung about 10 minutes before the service starts. You will be welcomed at the door, either at King Street, the main entrance or at Johnson Street, and you’ll be invited to wear a name tag. This is useful because after the 10:30 a.m. service, people gather at the back of the church for refreshments, and would like to greet you by name.
The bulletin that you’ll be given guides you through the service. The green Book of Alternative Services (BAS) is used at the 10.30 a.m. service, but occasionally we use a format from another Anglican church like the Anglican Church of New Zealand. It’s on a separate sheet.
Sit anywhere you’d like. The best view and sound (especially if you are hard-of-hearing) is in the front half of the church.
The organist, Michael Capon, plays before the service begins and while everyone is settling in. The pieces he’s playing are listed in the bulletin.
The choir and clergy process into the church from the Stuart Room that is on the front right under the balcony. A crucifer (a person carrying the cross) leads the procession, followed by servers with candles, the choir, and then the clergy. If the Bishop, Michael Oulton, is present, he is last in the procession. When the crucifer enters the church, everyone stands if they are able to.
The procession goes along the side aisle to the back of the church and waits till any announcements are made by the priest who is presiding at the service. Then the crucifer leads the procession down the centre aisle toward the altar.
Hymns are sung throughout the service. Do join in!
Instructions about standing, sitting and kneeling are in the bulletin, but the best way to deal with this is to do what everyone else is doing.
The elements, or bread and wine, are carried to the altar from the back of the church, then the offering is taken by sidespeople who pass collection plates along the pews. After that, they take the offering to the nave altar (the one closest to you that looks like a table) and give it to the priest who is standing at the table.
The sermon follows.
The Eucharist or Holy Communion is next. The presiding clergy will tell you what page to turn to in the BAS. The clergy and lay assistants (ordinary parishioners) are given bread and wine first. Then each of them goes to a location to give the bread and wine to people attending the service. After the choir receives communion, the sidespeople guide people in the centre aisle so that they know when it’s their pew’s turn. You can stand or kneel at the railing. All baptized Christians are welcome at the Lord’s Table. Bread is given first, then wine. Gluten-free wafers are available; just let the priest know. In our Diocese, we don’t dip the wafer/bread in the wine. (In some Dioceses this is allowed.) If you don’t wish to have wine, you can leave the railing or just cross your arms in front of you. If you’d like to be blessed, rather than have communion, just cross your arms in front of you.
When everyone has had communion there is a prayer and blessing given by the priest. A hymn closes the formal part of the service. The organist plays for a short while, and you can just sit and enjoy the music.
The social part is at the back of the church. Everyone is welcome. Do take a moment to introduce yourself to the clergy, telling them where you’re from and your name. Others will welcome you to St George’s. We are delighted to have you with us!