The style of worship at St. Anne's would be referred to as Broad Church. We incorporate elements of both the High and Low Church worship styles to create a blend of components that we call simply "St. Anne's." We have a vested choir but the congregation is comfortable dressing up or down. Our liturgy is typically said, but parts may be sung particularly on high holy days. Some parishioners cross themselves or bow at various times during the service, many others do not.
When you enter our sanctuary, you will see chairs, not pews. The movable chairs make us readily wheelchair accessible. We warmly welcome those with any disabilities. You will not see kneeling benches, so we stand as we are able during prayer. We do have kneelers (long sturdy pillows for kneeling) that come out during Lent and are used by some, but not all, in the congregation. Our hangings are parishioner or liturgical artist made as are our pottery vessels and the lovely wood pieces surrounding our altar. We have a very giving and talented congregation for whom we are all very grateful!
We have flowers at the altar, if parishioners sign up to buy or bring them. We do not have flowers during Lent or on the third Sunday of the month. In keeping with our strong parish focus on outreach, the third Sunday of each month, the Outreach committee highlights a ministry or event of importance to St. Anne's. For example, we decorated with canned goods for the AIDS and other local food pantries' needs one Sunday and with books for the rising 6th grade class at Old Town Elementary School on another.
In the Easter season, we have lilies and other plants donated by the congregation in memory or honor of loved ones. These flowers and plants are later added to our lovely volunteer maintained gardens. During Christmastide, we have poinsettias also donated by the congregation in memory or honor of loved ones.
We usually have one acolyte to serve as crucifer (carry the cross) and assist at the Holy Communion. The lay volunteers to acolyte range in age from 7 to 50+ years of age. All are welcome to assist with the liturgy, the work of the people. We usually have two Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs) serve as chalice bearers (serving the wine) during communion.
We have quiet activity bags for all children. Child care is provided for those too young for the liturgy of the word (the first part of the service). All children join us for the celebration of the Eucharist. They partake as deemed appropriate by their parents.
We use the highly stylized traditional hymns from the 1982 Hymnal and occasionally incorporate hymns from LEVAS (Lift Every Voice and Sing). Our beautiful Bedient Organ supports the classical style of Episcopal music and our piano is often used for less traditional offerings. In addition, consistent with our eclectic approach to liturgy, we sometimes have dulcimers or African drumming. The congregation is filled with talented musicians and singers; many amateur and some professional. We love to sing! We have a small children's choir as well as our adult choir (who deservedly take the summer off). The choir wears vestments, but does not process. All musical gifts (youth and adult) are welcomed and integrated into our strong music program. We traditionally have music at both the 8:30 and 11 Am services, but choir only sings at the 11 o'clock.
The sermon at St. Anne's is based upon the readings in the assigned Lectionary of the Day. As strong proponents of the universality of God's Church, we use the Revised Common Lectionary. Visiting preachers are sometimes surprised to find their rhetorical questions are answered aloud. We are a very interactive congregation.
During the Prayers of the People, one lector will read the prepared list and lead the congregation through the chosen form for the day. We pray for, by name, our military men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in the preceding week. We are a strong and visible advocate for peace in our world. Many members of our congregation add their intercessions, petitions and prayers out loud during the Prayers of the People.
We have a very lively Peace (exchange of the Peace of God) at the end of the liturgy of the word (the readings and the sermon) before the liturgy of the table (the Holy Communion). Most parishioners leave their seats and greet most other parishioners and visitors. We have to explain to non-Episcopalians that the service is not over! We humorously have been called "the Church of the Never Ending Peace." We like each other and welcome new members; exchanging the Peace of God is an important way to connect and feel our communion. Our announcements follow the Peace.
Both our 8:30 and 11 AM services follow the Rite II Eucharist in the Book of Common Prayer. Occasionally, we will change the liturgy for a certain season or day and use Rite I or Enriching Our Worship. St. Anne's was created to be a Eucharist-centered church. We only hold Morning Prayer services when supply clergy are not available. All are welcome at the Lord's Table. We gather around our free standing altar for communion. Those who can do so kneel to receive the sacrament; others stand. We use pottery vessels for the wine and homemade bread (a gluten free substitute is available). Some of us drink from the common cup, others prefer to intinct (that is, dip their bread into the wine and then receive it). Others simply pass their bread over the cup; it is not uncommon to receive in one kind only (that is, choosing to receive only bread or only wine).
Healing is available at both services on the first Sunday of the month. Lay ministers provide the laying on of hands and anointing with oil for anyone who chooses to approach their stations before or after receiving communion. While many parishioners participate in this opportunity for prayer for healing, many others do not.
In addition to our two Sunday morning services, we have a weekly service of Centering Prayer on Monday evenings at 6 pm and Evening Prayer with Holy Eucharist on Wednesday evenings at 6 pm. Both are special opportunities for quiet contemplative worship.
During Advent, the beginning of the church year, we add various services, including a Sunday evening Contemplative Eucharist to help us stay focused on the religious meaning of the season amid all the secular hustle and bustle in December. We have a "Midnight Mass" (usually beginning at 10:30 PM) on Christmas Eve as well as the celebration of Christmas (The Christ Mass) at one service Christmas morning.
During Lent we also frequently add additional opportunities for worship. Holy Week (the week leading up to Easter Sunday) includes a variety of services on Monday through Friday evenings and the Easter Vigil Saturday night. In keeping with our inter-racial origins, we share that Easter Vigil Services with St. Stephen's, the predominantly African-American Episcopal Church in Winston Salem, alternating the service between the two churches each year.