frequently asked questions
If you are considering visiting Good Shepherd, new to the Episcopal Church, or just a little curious about why we do what we do, hopefully this page will provide some answers to your questions. If you don't find the answer on this page, we invite you to contact one of our clergy or call the church office at 214-351-6468.
why do we worship this way?
The Episcopal Church is part of an reformed tradition with ancient roots, and our worship reflects that. We celebrate communion together every Sunday because we believe that the early church did so and because we have found that a predictable order of service that includes Scripture reading, congregational songs and responses, and the Liturgy of the Lord’s Table helps us connect with God during the service.
what denomination is good shepherd?
Good Shepherd is an Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. We are the same denomination as the Church of England. We were founded by English missionaries in the colonial era, but changed our name after the Revolutionary War. The name “Episcopal” reflects our belief that having bishops (“episcopoi” in Greek) in apostolic succession is an essential part of being the fullness of the church. We believe that our church descends in an unbroken line of faith and order from Jesus and the Apostles through this line of succession to our own bishops today.
why are people expected to do so much in the service?
In our worship, we join with others to praise God. Our worship includes times of teaching and fellowship, and we receive communion, but the main emphasis is on God Himself. As the People of God, every person present participates in the service in some way, not just the clergy and choir. We often say that worship is not a performance, but it is in a way. It’s just that the congregation is not the audience. God is the audience; the congregation is part of the cast.
aren't written prayers insincere and impersonal?
They can be, and we encourage people to learn to pray spontaneously to the God who wants to be in constant conversation with His people. But written prayers are helpful when we want to worship together. For many, it helps to follow along in the bulletin and the Book of Common Prayer, to help understand and think about the prayers we are saying together or the prayers the priest is saying as a representative of the congregation. It may also help to spend some time before the service looking at the prayers, thinking about what they are asking of God, and using those in your own personal prayers.
why do we kneel, stand, and sit at certain times?
We are not just souls temporarily residing in bodies. We are human persons, bodies and souls, made in the image of God, so our worship includes our bodies as well as our hearts and minds. When we stand to sing or proclaim our faith, or sit to listen to God’s Word, or kneel in reverence at Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, we includes our bodies in our worship. You will also see people bowing or kneeling briefly on one knee, or making the sign of the cross. Those too are ways of including our bodies in our prayers.
why do leaders wear different clothing?
In our tradition, clergy are distinguished by the clerical collar. During the service, clergy and lay people wear robes and other vestments over their ordinary clothing. The robes help draw attention away from the individual and show that they are performing a special task.
what is the nicene creed?
Creeds are formal statements of basic Christian beliefs that have existed for over 1,500 years. We recite the Nicene Creed on most Sundays, a statement of faith that was established by a gather of the whole church in A.D. 325. The Nicene Creed doesn’t answer every question you might have, but as Episcopalians, we see the Nicene Creed as a sufficient statement of the necessary points of belief in our church.
do we baptize infants and children as well as adults?
Yes, we do. We believe that baptism is a sacrament, a gift of Christ that accomplishes something when we do it. In the case of baptism, we believe that baptism is the way God adopts us as His children, unites us with Christ, and makes us citizens of His kingdom. Adults and infants can share in this adoption and union with Christ.
why do we have communion each week?
Like baptism, we believe that Holy Communion--also called the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper and the Mass—is a sacrament, a ritual act given by Christ that not only symbolizes God’s gracious acts but that is a sure and certain means by which we receive that grace. In the case of communion, we receive forgiveness of our sins, strengthen our union with Christ and one another, and participate in some way in the heavenly banquet and eternal life.
doesn't the common cup spread sickness?
No. We use fortified wine and the rim of the cup is wiped between uses. However, if you still feel uncomfortable, there are two more options at Good Shepherd. You can cross your arms over your chest after you receive the bread, and the chalice bearer will pass by you. Or you can leave the consecrated bread in your hand and the chalice bearer will take it from you, dip it in the wine, and place it on your tongue.
who is allowed to participate in communion?
The Lord’s Table is open to those who are baptized. You do not have to be a member of the Episcopal Church. We leave it up to parents to decide if and when their children receive communion. Some families wait until the children are in first or second grade or until confirmation, while others let even their youngest receive the consecrated bread. For older children and adults, it is important when we come to communion to be prepared spiritually. We take time to examine our lives, turn from sin and toward Christ and His commandments, and love and forgive all people as best as we are able. If you need further counsel or help in knowing how to prepare for communion, any member of the clergy will be happy to talk to you.
what if i don't want to or cannot take communion?
No one is obligated to participate. Some people are not able to receive the bread for a gluten allergy or the wine because of the alcohol, and so choose to receive one but not the other. We believe that Christ is equally present in both species, so by receiving one way, you have received communion fully. If for any reason you do not want to receive at all, we still encourage you to come forward and cross your arms over your chest. We will say a simple prayer asking God to bless you. Finally, you are welcome to stay in your seat if you don’t want to come forward. The ushers may ask you to come forward, but they only want to make sure you know you are welcome.
why do churches always ask for money?
Part of the reason we talk about money is that it is an important part of our following Christ. Jesus talked about money a lot. He knew that money was a powerful symbol of our relationship with God, and that we had to learn to use it properly. We call the proper use of money and resources “stewardship,” because we believe that God is the ultimate owner of all things, including our money. We believe in a God who provides for us and provides for the church through the people. We ask our members and regular attenders to support the church and its mission by making a donation, either through the offering plate or through online giving. All we ask of visitors is that they give us a record of their visit by filling out a Connect Card and putting it in the offering plate.
How do i learn more?
We hold a short series of classes several times a year for those who are new to Good Shepherd or to the Episcopal Church, or who are wanting to make an adult commitment or renew their commitment to Christ. The class is called Discovery, and it is the best way to learn more about our worship, our tradition, and our community of faith. If you have a specific question, you can always call one of the clergy at the church office, or email us here. We will get back to you with an answer as best we can. If we think it's a question other might want answered too, we may even add it to this page.