Archive for June, 2011

Church Behavior

Now and again I am asked about “proper” behavior in Church.  There is, I believe, a  balance between the respect necessary in attendance at the Liturgy and the potential for an impression of “stuffiness” that can result in “negative evangelism.”   I’d like to share some thoughts this morning from the priest’s perspective on church behavior. These are not to meant as inclusive, and if you have questions, please ask.

Church is a special place of God’s presence on earth.  We should behave ourselves reverently in church, so as not to offend the dignity of the sacred place and not to disrespect our Lord and bring condemnation on ourselves.

We  should arrive at least  5-10 minutes before the service begins. On entering a church, men are to remove their headwear. We  must be dressed appropriately and neatly. We should not speak loudly or chew the gum in church. We should not wander around needlessly in the sanctuary.

Any conversation should be restricted to the very minimum as people are praying in preparation for the liturgy. You can greet your acquaintances briefly and quietly but postpone talking to them until after services are concluded.

If you come to church with children you must prevent them from running and misbehaving. A crying child is the voice of the future of the Church, and we should not worry over a bit of noise.  However, if a crying child cannot be calmed down, they should be taken out of church by the parent until they have quieted.

If all the praying people kneel, you should join them. Likewise, if they stand, please stand.  No walking or talking is allowed during Gospel, as well as during the Sermon and particularly during the Eucharistic Canon (from “The Offertory” to the “Administration”) unless one has an urgent need to leave the church for health reasons. If one is sufficiently late so as to have missed the Gospel reading, they should refrain from Communion and ask a blessing at the Communion rail.

Please do not smoke on a church-porch, but, if you must, please do so in the parking lot or in your own vehicle.

Other than helper dogs or assistance dogs in training, animals or birds are not allowed in church.

One may correct a fellow parishioner only in a soft and delicate manner. It would be better not to make any remarks unless a person behaves like an “hooligan”. The ushers are the usual persons to address unruly behavior.

Finally we should stay in church till the end of service. You may, of course, leave earlier due to bad health condition or if a very serious matter requires it.

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“We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults. The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one’s life. But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being.”–G.K. Chesterton

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