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Worship 411

Whether you've grown up in a church or this is your very first time in church, the words and phrases used during worship & at church can be a little confusing. Here's a helpful guide to some commonly used words/elements & how they fit in to RACC:

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Physical Parts of the Church

Sanctuary - The space used for worship (2nd Floor)

Narthex - The foyer outside of the sanctuary (2nd Floor)

Chancel - The "stage" in the front of the sanctuary 

Baptistry - Where baptisms are held & usually inside of the sanctuary. It looks like a small swimming pool or large tub!

Sacristy - The room where Communion is prepared

Fellowship Hall - A large, multi purpose space usually used for meals and large gatherings (1st Floor)

Lectern - Where people speak from when leading worship. This is often found on the chancel.

Pulpit - Where the Pastor preaches from. This is also often found on the chancel.

Communion Table - Where the communion trays of bread, chalices, and offering plates are blessed during worship. 

Chalice - The glass used to hold the communion elements. Grape juice or wine are both used during worship. RACC uses grape juice.  

Pews - Where the congregation sits during worship. They look like large wooden benches. 

Hymnals - Books containing hymns (songs), prayers, and other sacred readings. They can be found in the back of your pew. We also have a projector/screen that is used during most worship services. 

Paraments - These are decorative elements, often made of cloth, that symbolize different times in the church calendar. They are often found on the Communion Table, Pulpit, Lectern, and on the walls. 

Robe & Stole - The Pastor often wears a clergy robe during worship and a stole. A stole looks like a scarf but is not wrapped around the neck. Stoles reflect the different liturgical seasons and symbolize being yoked to Christ and to one another. In other words, they symbolize serving Christ and serving the church. Our Pastor typically  wears a robe and stole during our worship services. 

Bulletin & Communication Card - The bulletin is an outline of worship. Inside of the bulletin, you will find a "Communication Card" where you're invited to share contact information and if you'd like to learn more about RACC. 

People in Worship

Acolytes - Children who carry in the light of Christ (lighting candles) and carry in the communion elements

Chancel Choir - A group of people who offer musical gifts to God during worship

Congregation - People who come together to worship

Deacons - Those who are called to serve in the church. They often serve communion & receive the offering during worship.

Elders - Those who are called to be spiritual leaders of the church. They often offer prayers at the Communion Table, lead during worship, and visit those who are sick or in need.

Liturgist - The Liturgist leads the Call to Worship, Invocation, Passing of the Peace, and sometimes the scripture reading. Often an Elder serves as the liturgist during worship.

Pastor - Sometimes called a Minister, Reverend, Clergy, or Preacher. The Pastor is someone called by God to lead and serve the Church. They often go to school for a long time and meet specific criteria before being ordained or commissioned to serve in the church. Our Pastor at RACC is Rev. Erin Dickey. We call her "Pastor Erin" or simply "Erin." Rev. Dickey is okay too, but that's usually reserved for more formal occassions.

Parts of Worship

Prelude - Music offered at the beginning of worship to center ourselves

Hymns - Sacred songs that we sing during worship. They can be found in the Hymnal or on the screen in the front of the sanctuary. 

Call to Worship - A responsive reading that centers the congregation 

Invocation - A prayer invoking (or inviting) the Holy Spirit to be in worship

Gloria Patri - A musical response to prayer 

Passing of the Peace - A time to greet one another with the peace of Christ. If you're not sure what to say, simply saying, "Peace be with you." or just, "Peace." are great ways to pass the peace and to respond when the peace is passed to you.

Anthem - This is often a musical offering by the Chancel Choir

Children's Moment - Sometimes also called a "Children's Sermon", this is a special time for children of all ages to come sit on the chancel and hear a message just for them! 

Worship and Wonder - A special time of worship for children Kindergarten - 2nd Grade. Children leave from the Children's Moment for Worship and Wonder.

Prayers of the People - A prayer offered to God on behalf of the congregation. Sometimes this prayer is offered by a lay person (non-clergy) or by a Pastor. 

Sermon - A time of digging in to the Word of God. The sermon often intertwines stories, current events, and even humor or pop culture to help us understand scripture both in its original context and how it can be used in our daily lives. The Pastor preaches the sermon from the pulpit. An average sermon at RACC is between 12- 18 minutes long.

Communion - Communion is the central element of worship. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) celebrates communion every Sunday. Elders offer prayers from the Communion Table. They also hold the chalices (cups of grape juice) during Communion. Two Deacons hold the trays of bread while two other Deacons help guide people through communion. We practice Communion by Intinction which means we come up to the front of the sanctuary through the center aisle, take a piece of bread, and dip it in the cup. Afterwards, we return to our pews using the side aisle. We also have gluten free bread and a gluten free cup available every Sunday. All are welcome to share in Communion. You don't have to be a member of RACC or any other church to share in Communion. If you do not yet want to receive Communion, you may also come forward and receive a simple blessing from the Pastor. You are also welcome to remain in your pew. 

Stewardship Moment & Offering - An Elder will offer a few words about how and why we are called to give to the church in many ways. Deacons will then receive the offering by passing trays through the pews.

Doxology & Offertory Prayer - A musical praise to God for allowing us to give followed by a prayer of Thanksgiving. The prayer is often offered by an Elder.

Invitation to Membership - A time where you are invited to either join RACC, to begin a new relationship with Christ, or to transfer membership from another Church. You can learn more about membership at RACC here.

Benediction - A blessing offered by the Pastor as we depart from the worship service

Postlude - Music played at the end of worship

Baptisms - We have Baptisms throughout the year, often around Easter or Pentecost. We practice baptism by immersion where the person goes completely underwater. We also honor all forms of baptism which means that if you have been baptized in a different tradition, you do not need to be baptized again. Baptism is the public, communal act of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. The Pastor does baptisms in the baptistry.

Liturgical Calendar 

This is a fancy way of saying "The Church Year." The Church Year is divided into a few main seasons and they are even color coded! The seasons are: 

Advent (Purple) - The four weeks leading up to Christmas. This is a season of celebration, excitement, and preparing for the birth of Christ. 

Christmas (White) - Beginning on December 25th, this is the celebration of Christ's birth. Christmas lasts until Epiphany.

Epiphany (White) - The revelation of God made flesh through the Christ child. We celebrate Epiphany on January 6th.

Lent (Purple) - The 40 days leading up to Easter. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and goes through Holy Week. This is a time of repentance, discernment, and growing closer to God. Lent and Easter move around on the calendar. Lent usually begins in February or early March. Easter tends to be in late March or April. 

Holy Week - Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) and includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Easter (White) - We celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter morning. Hallelujah! 

Pentecost (Red) - We celebrate the Holy Spirit giving life to the church (Acts 2).

Ordinary Time (Green) - This is the time between Pentecost and Advent. 

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