I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to our family here at St. James’! We are an historical congregation that pre-dates the founding of our country. In fact St. James Perkiomen was one of the original eight churches that meet to start the process of creating what would become the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. Our current sanctuary is the third incarnation of St. James’ and the cornerstone of the first stone church (1721), which was located across the street in what is now our cemetery, is embedded in the front wall of the church as well as the initials of the wardens of that congregation. We are proud of our history and you can see from the graves in our cemetery that we have had congregants who have fought and died in every conflict America has been embroiled in from the Revolutionary War through the Iraqi war. We even have a Union Medal of Honor recipient buried in our hallowed grounds.
Although we are proud of our history we are also very much engaged with our community here in the 21st Century. We have a community Outreach House that provides non-perishable food as well as clothing and housewares. We are in the process of building a new Outreach House to better serve our community. We are also a meeting place for both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and we provide weekly meeting spaces to both Alcoholics Anonymous and Veterans-in-Recovery groups. St. James’ is a busy place and we like it that way.
Worship here at St. James’ is in the Episcopal tradition and guided by the Book of Common Prayer. The Episcopal Church is part of the World-wide Anglican Communion which is a loose confederation of independent churches that practice the Anglican tradition. When you attend one of our worship services you will quickly realize that the whole service is ordered and dictated by the liturgies in the Book of Common Prayer. Those visiting from a Roman Catholic or Lutheran background will be familiar with the structure and order of the service. The principal service of worship in the Episcopal Church is the service of Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion. The service consists of two parts known as the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the table. In the first part of the service, the liturgy of the word, there are readings of scripture from the Old Testament, the New Testament and then a reading from one of the four gospels. There is a sermon, normally on the gospel passage and then we stand and reaffirm our faith through the words of the Nicaean Creed. After this we pass the peace in which we wish each other God’s peace; this ends the liturgy of the word. The next part of the service, the liturgy of the table, begins with an offertory sentence in which we bring the fruits of our lives to the altar to be blessed. The service of Holy Communion is a sacramental service in which we take ordinary elements of bread and wine and ask the Holy Spirit to make them the body and blood of Jesus Christ, spiritual food for spiritual people. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communion in the Episcopal Church.
Regardless of your past religious experience, I am confident that you will encounter God in an amazing way as you worship with us. Please know that my door is always open and again welcome to St. James’!
Fr. Mike Sowards +