What to Expect on Your First Visit


If this is your first time visiting Saint John’s, we welcome you. 

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.

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.

Children are welcome at all worship services. 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 that guide you through the service. 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. You will see a lot of variety within the congregation, and you may take any of these postures as you feel comfortable.

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.

Taking Communion

Like many Episcopal churches, we offer Communion every Sunday, at all 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. All baptized Christians are invited to accept the offerings of bread and 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. 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.

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. They may also cross their arms over the chest to receive a blessing instead of one or both items. 

Inside the Church

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.

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