Understanding Worship

As part of the Reformed Tradition, our order of worship reflects our Reformed theology.  The worship service is divided into four basic sections: the Gathering, the Word, Responding to the Word, and the Sending.

The Gathering


The worship service starts with a few minutes of organ music.  This allows people to find a place to sit and to prepare themselves for worship.

Chiming of the Hour

Using hand chimes, children of the church chime the hour.  This is another marker of the transition from everyday life into a time of worship.


The liturgist (the member of the church helping lead worship from the lectern) welcomes everyone to worship.  This welcome is extended to everyone, those who have been with us a long time, those who are joining us for the first time, and everything in between.

Announcements and Prayer Concerns

The liturgist follows the welcome with sharing announcements.  This helps keep everyone informed about what is going on in the life of the congregation.  The announcements are followed by sharing of prayer requests.  There is also the opportunity for people to share new prayer requests.  As the body of Christ, we regularly pray for the needs of those within the church and beyond.

Passing of the Peace

Following his resurrection, Jesus proclaimed to the disciples: “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19)  As disciples of Jesus in the 21st century, we recognize that we have received peace from Jesus and are called to share it in the world.  This sharing of peace begins with the passing of the peace at the start of worship each Sunday.  The liturgist declares: “The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” to which the congregation responds: “And also with you.”  The congregation then stands and greets one another saying “The peace of Christ be with you” or simply “Peace be with you.”

Call to Worship

Drawing on the various Scriptures for the day and the church season, this responsive litany is led by the liturgist and calls everyone gathered in the church to worship God.  The liturgist and congregation alternate reading lines as designated in the bulletin.


The congregation joins in singing a hymn from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal which is located in each pew rack.  The singing is normally accompanied by the church organ or piano.  The bulletin provides the hymn number and title.  Joining together in congregational singing of these hymns is an act of worshipping God.  The opening hymn typically addresses the identity or work of God.

Call to Confession

In the Presbyterian Church, we are aware of our inability to follow God, often called sin.  In the Call to Confession we are invited to confess before God how we have fallen short.  This invitation is extended in light of the confidence that we have in God’s grace and mercy expressed in Jesus Christ.

Prayer of Confession

After a short period of silent confession, the congregation joins together in the prayer of confession printed in the bulletin.  This prayer expresses how we have failed to live as God intends, individually and as a community.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Our confession of our sins is followed by the assurance that God’s grace is final and that our sins are forgiven.  Our alienation from God is overcome by God’s love and grace, which unites us to God and one another.

Response to Forgiveness

Having received forgiveness, we respond with gratitude.  This response is a sung response called “Glory Be to the Father” and printed in the bulletin:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.  Amen.

Word to the Children

The proclamation of the Word begins with inviting the children of the church to come forward for a special message.  This message is sometimes the telling of the story of Scripture told in the language of children and is sometimes a lesson about what it means to follow Jesus.  While the entire service is intended to be accessible for people of all ages, including children, this is a particular portion of the service when the children are specifically addressed.  Following the Word to the Children, children are invited to remain in the sanctuary and continue participating in worship with the rest of the congregation.  Activity bags may be found in the narthex (the back) and by the lectern door (the door at the front right of the sanctuary).

Prayer of Illumination

A prayer is offered before the reading and preaching of the Word asking for God to work through the proclaiming and hearing of the Word.

Scripture Reading

We believe that the Bible is, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ.  The Bible guides our worship as it reveals to us the nature and character of God.  We do not worship the Bible, but God alone. The Bible guides us in our relationship with God and each other.  We often read multiple passages from the Bible each service.

Choral Anthem

Between Scripture readings, the choir sings, usually accompanied by the organ or piano.


Based on the Scripture readings, the pastor preaches the sermon.  The sermons attempt to accomplish two basic tasks: (1) help us understand Scripture better and (2) guide us in living out our faith.  In the sermons, one foot is planted in Scripture while the other is grounded in the world in which we live.  We believe that our faith is relevant to life today, and the sermons attempt unpack the connection between Scripture, faith, and our engagement with the world.

The Word

Responding to the Word

Affirmation of Faith

Using one of the creeds and confessions of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the congregation declares together what we believe.  The Presbyterian Church (USA) has 12 creeds and confessions from the history of the church which provide the theological foundation of our beliefs and practices.  These include:

  • The Nicene Creed

  • The Apostles’ Creed

  • The Scots Confession

  • The Heidelberg Catechism

  • The Second Helvetic Confession

  • The Westminster Confession of Faith

  • The Shorter Catechism

  • The Longer Catechism

  • The Theological Declaration of Barmen

  • The Confession of 1967

  • The Belhar Confession

  • A Brief Statement of Faith – Presbyterian Church (USA)

See here for more information about why we “Confess” our faith.


The second hymn is typically either connected with the message of the sermon or a hymn regarding Baptism or Communion if they are held that morning.

Prayer of the People

As part of our worship, we pray for the world God loves.  In this prayer, we pray for: the ministry and mission of the church; care for creation; peace and justice in the world; the leaders and people of all nations; the poor, hungry, and oppressed; compassion and reconciliation in our local community; healing and wholeness for all who suffer; and other special needs.

The Lord’s Prayer

The prayer of the people concludes with the recital of the Lord’s Prayer.  This prayer is the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples.  The version we use is:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.


Baptism is one of the two sacraments of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  It is the method of signaling the including of a person into the community of faith.  Because we recognize baptism primarily as the promise of God to us, we baptize people of all ages, including infants.  The practice of baptism is rooted in Jesus’ own baptism by John the Baptist and the instruction of Jesus to his disciples to baptize people into the faith.


Communion is one of the two sacraments of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  Also known as Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper, it is the sign and seal of our communion with the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.  On the night before his death, Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples in which he shared bread and wine, which he spoke of as his body and blood, signs of the new covenant.  When we gather at Communion, the Holy Spirit unites us with Christ and the community of faith the church.

All are welcome to participate in Communion, regardless of age or understanding.  We typically serve Communion by having the congregation come forward, take a piece of bread, dip into a cup of juice, and eat it before returning to be seated.  We celebrate Communion the first Sunday of every month and on special occasions such as Maundy Thursday and Easter.

Invitation to Offering

We believe that the Christian life is the offering of ourselves to God.  During the offering, we are invited to return to God a portion of God has provided for the ministry of the church.  It is a time to express our discipleship through the giving of ourselves.


While the offering is collected by the ushers, a musical offering is presented.  This can be done either instrumentally or as a sung offering.


Following the collection of the offering, the congregation joins together in singing the doxology, a specific song of praise to God.  This doxology is called “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” and is printed in the bulletin: Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.  Praise God all creatures here below.  Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

At the conclusion of the doxology, a prayer of thanksgiving is offered giving thanks for the gifts given and dedicating them to for the use of God’s Kingdom.

The Sending


The closing hymn is typically concerned with the act of the church going forth into the world.

Charge and Benediction

The worship service concludes with a charge for the church to go forth as agents of God’s mission in the world.  The benediction is a blessing upon the church as an expression of God’s grace.

Congregational Response Hymn

Following the Charge and Benediction, the congregation joins in singing a short response, usually printed in the bulletin.


The worship service concludes with a few minutes of organ music.  As the prelude prepares people to leave the world to enter into worship, the postlude musically prepares people to leave worship and enter into the world.