If this is your first time visiting Saint John’s or an Episcopal Church, we welcome you.  Our worship times are listed here, and in the footer of this page.

If you've already come to one of our services, or you are ready for more information, you can fill out our Online Visitor Card to get connected with our community and the ministries that matter to you. 

Saint John's is full of beautiful murals by the artist John H. DeRosen. See and read more about the murals here.

Below are a few things you can expect on your first visit with us.

Parking

Our main lot is on Central Ave. and connects to the back lot on the East side of the Parish Life Center. On Sundays and for special services, some drivers choose to park on Greer St. along the roadside. For major services, such as Christmas, Easter, and large funerals, drivers may park along Greer St. most of the way to Southern Ave. and police officers may direct parking along Central Ave. Please be mindful of traffic when parking on the street.

Entering Our Buildings

If you park in the lot, you may enter the main building through the door at the turn around (porte-cochere) under the brick covering [picture 1 & 2].  If you are attending a service in the church, proceed through the red doors into the courtyard [picture 3] and enter the church through the large white doors on the right [picture 4] or continue along the side of the church to the rear entrance. Service bulletins are available in the plastic holders just inside each door, or from an usher.

You may also walk directly to the church entrance on the front lawn near Central Ave. Walk up the steps and enter through the white side doors, facing Central Ave., or continue around to the steps or ramp at the rear entrance under the steeple [picture 5].

If you park or enter on Greer St., enter beneath the steeple at the double white doors of the tower room. Ushers and greeters will be inside to welcome you and provide a service bulletin. Additional visitor information is also available in the tower room. You can also enter near the sign for Parish Hall on Greer, where we serve coffee and other refreshments before the service.

Our church offices are on the 2nd floor of the same building. Ring the bell at the turn around [picture 2] during weekdays and come up the stairs or the elevator and go left on the 2nd floor.

The Parish Life Center sits to the left in the parking lot [picture 6]. It houses the gym, workout rooms, walking track, and meeting rooms. They are open 6am-8pm M-F and 9am-noon on Saturday. Facilities are open to all, with registration. Just ring the bell. Learn more about the PLC and fitness classes on the Rec & Fitness page.

Restrooms

Men's and Women's single restrooms are located in the Parish Hall--most convenient during or after church services. 

Men's and Women's rooms are also available on the second floor by the main offices entrance/porte-cochere.

A single restroom is located in Bride's Room to the right inside the main offices entrance past the elevator.

Worship Services

As you enter the Nave, you will notice an atmosphere of serenity and reverence. The quiet is intended not to get in the way of fellowship and community, but rather to provide a space for personal meditation and devotions before services. Some choose to gather in the Parish Hall next to the rear of the church for a more social space.

Children are welcome at all worship services. Kid’s bags and special bulletins are available in the room under the steeple (tower room) at the rear of the church. Ushers can assist you. Children’s Chapel is offered during the 10:30am service during the sermon, when teachers lead our kids in a separate look at the scriptures of the day.

Seating at Saint John’s is not reserved and there is always room for visitors. An usher will give you a printed worship bulletin to guide you along. The scripture readings are printed in the bulletin, along with some congregational responses; however, most of the prayers and liturgy are found in the prayer book.

For first time visitors, a green index card is available in each pew rack, which provides helpful tips and helps orient you to the service in the order it happens. You can also read it online here. For example, we stand for the Gospel and to sing, sit to hear the other lessons, sermon, and announcements, and kneel or stand to pray, depending on the church season and type of service. You will see a lot of variety within the congregation, and you may take any of these postures as you feel comfortable.

See below for instructions on Communion.

After the service, the clergy greet worshippers as they leave at the rear of the church. Coffee, tea, and other refreshments are offered in the Parish Hall before and after the morning services. To go there after service, exit the nave through the side door behind the short white wall and walk straight across.

Taking Communion

Like many Episcopal churches, we offer Communion every Sunday, at all three services.  Holy Communion is an essential sacrament for the Christian life that is based on the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples. It commemorates his sacrifice as we offer ourselves to receive the living Christ.  You can learn more about what we believe in the Eucharist elsewhere, but what about some Saint John's specifics: How do you take communion, and who is welcome?

We celebrate The Holy Eucharist as a congregation, which includes all the prayers, scripture, and teachings for the day, and culminates with Communion at the altar rail. Everyone is welcome at the altar rail. We fill the rail from the middle first, then around the outside. You can follow the flow of those ahead of you. All baptized Christians are invited to accept the offerings of bread and wine. (We use bread wafers and real wine!)

To accept the bread, open your hands and it will be placed on your palms. As you eat the bread, the chalice bearer will bring the wine. You can let them dip your wafer in the wine and place it on your tongue (intinction), or help guide the cup to your lips--known as the dip or sip option!* If you do not wish to consume one or both, you may kneel and cross your arms over your chest. This will signal the priest to give you a blessing. After both bread and wine have passed, rise and head back to your pew along the outside wall. Again, follow those in front of you.

Children are welcome at the altar rail for communion. We do not mark a "first communion," and your children may partake of both bread and wine as you and they are comfortable. They may also cross their arms over the chest to receive a blessing instead of one or both items. 

*Side note for friendly neighborhood germophobes: drinking from the shared chalice carries very low risk. A combination of alcohol in the wine, safe hygiene practices by chalice bearers, and gold or silver lining in the chalice means bacteria won't be sticking around. Common sense suggests those who know they are ill to choose the dip option (intinction) or opt for the blessing.

5:30pm Services

The Sunday 5:30pm services are a little different. Unlike the morning, the evening service is spoken, rather than sung. This smaller, more intimate service meets in the Holy Spirit Chapel on the left side of the nave. Most congregants enter through the side door on the front lawn facing Central Ave.

Dress

The congregation's dress is quite diverse although it tends toward formal dress. People come in everything from blue jeans to business suits. You may notice different attire in different church seasons and at different service times; however, there are no official dress expectations.

You will also notice that the clergy and lay people serving at the altar wear special garments to signify their different ministries. Clergy, chalice bearers, and acolytes wear a long, white vestment called an alb. Over it, ordained ministers wear a stole, a narrow band of colored fabric. The celebrant (priest in charge of communion) wears a large colored vestment (cope) that changes color according to the church calendar. Before celebrating communion, the celebrant usually dons a chasuble (a circular garment similar to a poncho) in place of the cope. Stoles and chasubles, as well as altar coverings, are usually made of rich fabrics. Their color changes with the seasons and holy days of the Church Year.

Choir vestments include a red robe (cassock) and a white, gathered over-gown (cotta).

Inside the Worship Space

Our worship space (the Nave) is laid out in a traditional format, like a cross. The pews are in two rows in the center, with two side chapels (transepts) on either side. On the right is the Lady Chapel (with three murals depicting Mary the mother of Jesus). On the left is the Holy Spirit Chapel (with three murals depicting baptism).

The portion above the steps includes the Chancel, with the pulpit at the right, where the sermon is preached, and a lectern at the left (a bronze eagle, the symbol of Saint John), where the Scriptures are read. The choir sits in stalls on the right and/or left near the organ. Between the choir stalls stands the baptismal font and the tomb of Saint John’s first rector, The Rev. Tib Loaring-Clark, who died during the completion of the mural over the high altar!

At the very front is the Sanctuary (inside the Altar rails) and the High Altar, with a large mural on the wall depicting Jesus, Saint John, and many angels and archangels. You may notice the altar rails remain open for the entire service until the people come forward for communion, when it closes to allow kneeling.

Read much more on the murals and the artist, John H. DeRosen.

 

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Saint John’s Episcopal Church
3245 Central Avenue | Memphis, Tennessee 38111
Phone (901) 323-8597 | Fax (901) 327-9032