I grew up Roman Catholic. How is this different?
The service itself is actually very similar. We celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, and everyone is welcome to receive, from youngest to oldest. The Episcopal Church does not offer a rite of “First Communion” because we believe it is a blessing for children to remember being included in every aspect of church for their whole lives — we all understand communion in different ways as we learn and grow, but Jesus is always present for us in the sacrament.
Why does everyone get out of his or her pew and walk around during peace?
We have a very exuberant time when we pass the peace. In the liturgy, this is the time after the confession of sin when we celebrate that we are reconciled to God and each other with Christ. When the priest says, “The peace of the Lord be with you,” we mean it! It’s also fine to let others come to you — or hold back until you feel more comfortable.
I’d love to come to church, but my kids have a hard time sitting still.
There is plenty of room for kids to wiggle. Our toddler room and Godly Play Sunday School program are scheduled during the service so the kids can learn at their own level before joining us for Communion, but they are also very welcome to be in church. If your child is screaming at the top of their lungs, it might be a good idea to check out the bulletin board in the parish hall, but rest assured that the little squeals and toys getting dropped are noises we can handle.
What is the early service like?
Our 8:30 service is a quiet, meditative time. There is no music, and the sermon is shorter. We sit in the choir instead of scattered through the pews. There are usually only about a dozen people who gather.