What to Expect if You're New
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where is St. Matthew's Episcopal Church?
A: Our mailing address (the one you can use for most GPS apps) is: 1401 Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd, Savannah, GA 31415. You can find more info and a map here.
Q: Where do I park?
A: Our parking lot is behind the church, at the intersection of Burroughs St. and West Anderson St. Check out the map.
Q: Which door do I use?
A: You can enter the main red doors facing MLK Blvd, but most people park in the lot on Burroughs St, enter through Toomer-Walker Hall, our social hall, and walk down the hallway into the church.
Q: What time are Sunday services?
A: The main services on Sunday are Holy Eucharist (a.k.a. Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, Mass, etc.) and they begin at 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Both services have some music, though the 10:00 features our choir. There is also a short service of Morning Prayer at 7:30 a.m. in the choir stalls with no music.
Q: How long is the service?
A: The 7:30 Morning Prayer service lasts about 25 minutes. The 8:00 Communion service is usually under an hour. The 10:00 Communion service is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Q: What am I supposed to wear?
A: Whatever you want. Some people dress up in suits and ties or dresses. Some people wear t-shirts and shorts. Most people wear something in between. Just dress comfortably. We'll try to get to know you however you look.
Q: Where are the restrooms?
A: The restrooms are in the hallway between the church and Toomer-Walker Hall. If you're sitting in a pew, you'll need to walk toward the altar along the side aisles to get to the hallway doors.
Q: What about my kids?
A: Bring them! We welcome children of all ages at St. Matthew's. Kids and youth attend both the 8:00 and 10:00 Sunday services. Many of our children attend Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. for specialized Christian education. Parents and guardians can attend the adult class that runs at the same time.
Q: Do you provide childcare during worship?
We do not currently offer childcare during worship because we want kids to experience worship with adults from an early age, learning the rhythms of prayer through imitating us. Some of them are fidgety and loud, and that's okay. The ushers can provide coloring books and picture books for children who need them. Consider bringing them to Sunday School at 9:00 to get some of their energy out with other kids in the church.
Q: How do I become a member?
A: In The Episcopal Church, the only requirement for church membership is baptism. We count all baptisms equally, whether you were baptized as a baby or as an adult, in an Episcopal Church, or any other Christian denomination. As long as you were baptized with water in the Name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, your baptism is valid.
If you are switching churches, talk to the priest about moving your membership (i.e. your record of baptism) from your old church to St. Matthew's.
Q: How do I get my child baptized? How do I get baptized?
A: Baptism is available to all people. If you or someone in your family wants to be baptized, talk to the priest about preparing for baptism and scheduling a time and date that works best for the church and your family.
Baptismal preparation varies case by case and depends a lot on the person's age and maturity. Preparing an infant or toddler for baptism is really about coaching the parents and godparents (a.k.a sponsors) on how to raise the child in the Christian faith. For older children and adults, we expect some engagement with the Christian education offerings in the church and some private meetings with the priest to discuss The Catechism of The Episcopal Church (a.k.a The Outline of the Faith).
Q: I'm Baptist/Methodist/Catholic/Pentecostal/<Fill-in-the-blank>. Am I allowed to receive communion?
A: If you are baptized, the short answer is yes. All baptized Christians—regardless of age or church membership—are welcome to receive Communion in this church. You don't need to be Episcopalian and you don't need to be confirmed. Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ for the Body of Christ; we become members of the Body of Christ through baptism.
If you are not you are not yet baptized, see above for more information.
Q: How do I receive communion? I don't know what to say or do.
A: Here are some tips:
Look for guidance from the ushers. At the appropriate time, an usher will invite the people in your pew to rise and follow the line to the Communion rail. Those with limited mobility may request that Communion be brought directly to their pew
Kneel or stand at the rail. Most people kneel at the rail to receive Communion, but standing is appropriate, especially if kneeling is difficult.
Receive the bread. As the minister approaches you with the bread, extend your hands with palms open and facing up. Consume the bread after the priest places it in your hand. The customary response is, "Amen."
Receive the wine. The wine is served in a large chalice as a sign of unity. Assist the minister by guiding the chalice to your lips, holding it by the base, and take a small sip. If you would rather not drink from the chalice, you may offer your bread to the minister and allow him/her to dip it in the wine and place it on your tongue. The customary response is, "Amen."
Return to your pew. Return to your pew and kneel, if you like. Sing with the congregation or offer your silent prayers to God.
Note: If you are unbaptized or would prefer not to receive the bread and/or wine for any reason, cross your arms over your chest at the rail. This signifies to the priest that you wish to receive a blessing instead.
Q: What is confirmation and why should I do it?
A: Confirmation is a sacramental rite that accomplishes two things: (1) the Holy Spirit strengthens you through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop; and (2) you publicly express a mature commitment to Jesus Christ. For many people, confirmation is a "follow-up" to infant baptism and is received as a teenager or young adult. For new Episcopalians, confirmation is a mark of joining our expression of Christianity. For adults seeking baptism, the two rites may be performed together during a Bishop's visitation.
Confirmation is not necessary for salvation and is not necessary for membership in St. Matthew's or any other Episcopal Church. Confirmation is, however, necessary in order to serve in many forms of Episcopal leadership, such as the Vestry, licensed lay eucharistic ministers, and most Diocesan appointments and positions.
Q: How do I get confirmed?
A: If you want to get confirmed, talk to the priest about preparing for it and scheduling a time and date that works best for the church and your family. Much like adult baptism, candidates for confirmation are expected to attend the parish's Christian education offerings and hold some private meetings with the priest to discuss The Catechism of The Episcopal Church (a.k.a The Outline of the Faith). Unlike baptism, confirmation must be performed by a bishop, and so the Bishop of Georgia's schedule must be taken into consideration.
Q: Can I come to worship on days besides Sundays?
We hold services of Evening Prayer in the choir stalls every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. These are great opportunities to deepen your prayer life with a supportive and loving Christian community. On Wednesdays, after Evening Prayer, we hold a small service of Holy Communion with Prayers for Healing.
Q: Prayers for Healing? Is that like the TV preachers who pick people up out of their wheelchairs?
A: Not exactly. This involves praying for sick people who are present and sick loved ones we carry in our hearts. For those present, the priest offers to lay hands on and anoint worshippers with holy oil while praying quietly for any named concerns. It's tranquil and intimate. We ask for God to intervene in our lives with comfort, hope, and healing, but we don't tell God what to do. We do our best to trust God to govern our lives be with us no matter what trials we might face.