Frequently Asked Questions

What does Episcopal mean?

The name originates in the New Testament and is translated as overseer or bishop. It is also defined as having or constituting government by bishops. A conference of three clergy and twenty-four lay delegates met at Chestertown, Kent County, Maryland, on November 9, 1780, and resolved that “the Church formerly known in the Province as the Church of England should now be called the Protestant Episcopal Church.” On August 13, 1783, the Maryland clergy met at Annapolis and adopted the name “Protestant Episcopal Church.” Today, the denomination is most commonly called The Episcopal Church.

St. Luke’s is one of more than thirty congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. Our Diocese is part of the greater Episcopal Church, which has ninety-nine dioceses in the continental United States and an additional ten dioceses outside that geographical area. We have a Presiding Bishop who serves a nine-year term and is overseer of our greater Episcopal Church.

Is there anything “special” that I have to do if I attend a service?

No. There are different times when we stand or sit or kneel but if you are unfamiliar with these times, you can simply follow the people in front of you (probably not a good idea to sit in front – but you may if you’d like!). Also, you may see people doing different things during the service at different times, such as genuflecting (when you kneel down on one knee or simply bow before going into your seat) or using the sign of the cross with their hand in front of themselves. These are called manual acts; they are not required but are a matter of personal choice to aid in your worship. Instructions on these things are included in the orientation classes we periodically offer, or you can ask any of our priests or deacons about these signs. Please be aware though, that many members of very long standing do not observe these manual acts, while others do. It is entirely a personal choice.

What should I wear to a service?

The days of dress codes are gone – so attend in the attire that is comfortable to you. In a typical service, you will see everything from shorts in the summer and jeans, to dresses and suits and ties.

Are there places in the liturgy where I cannot participate?

The simple answer is “no.” You are welcome to participate fully in everything including communion, or Eucharist, since we practice what is called an open communion. This means anyone, Episcopalian or not, is welcome to come forward and receive the bread and the wine. If, for some reason, you do not feel comfortable participating in communion, simply indicate to the usher with a simple shake of the head that you will not be participating.

How do I receive the Eucharist?

When you first come to the altar rail with others, you can either kneel or stand. The bread is offered to you first. Receive it in an open hand. At this point, some people say “Amen.” You can either eat the bread immediately or continue holding it until the wine is offered. You can then dip (called intinction) the bread into the wine and consume them together. Or, if you have eaten the bread alone, receive the cup of wine as it is offered and take a small sip. It is okay to put your hand on the chalice to help guide it to your lips and raise it to be able to take a small sip. Again, you may say “Amen.” We then return to our seats.

Those who are unable to walk to the altar, because of age or infirmity, can be served in the pews. Simply let an usher know that you would like to receive communion in your seat. 

Also of note, some Episcopalians, including church leaders, do not take wine in any form. If you do not wish to receive the wine, simply cross your hands over your chest and the person serving the chalice will pass you by after offering a blessing.

How does one join St. Luke’s?

Membership is not a requirement to participate fully at St. Luke’s. We warmly welcome you to join any of our classes, events, ministries, or activities! If you would like more information on any of the offerings or sacraments, either call our church office or send a request through our website. Our clergy can discuss with you everything from being baptized, to studying the Bible, reading or discussing faith issues, taking our orientation classes, or getting involved in any of our ministries. It is a source of great joy to all of us when new people visit and participate in the vibrant work of St. Luke’s. 

A complete glossary of terms used by the Episcopal Church can be found here.