Welcome!  If you have attended an Episcopal Church before, much of what we do at St. Paul’s will seem familiar to you.  If you are a “newcomer” to St. Paul’s and the Episcopal Church, welcome! This list of questions (and answers) is offered to better acquaint you with some of the details of our worship services and provide some answers to questions we would want to know if we were attending church here for the first time.

Q. What should I wear to church?

A. We invite you and your family to dress in whatever way you feel is comfortable and appropriate. Some come dressed in their “Sunday best” while others prefer more casual attire such as jeans and a nice shirt.
Q. What is parking like?
A. We are located in downtown Benicia. There normally is plenty of parking on the streets, including handicapped spaces. Parking is also available in the Bank of the West parking lot, which is across from the church as well as alley parking directly behind the church.
Q. What are your services like?

A. The 8:45 service is a traditional service with organ music and traditional hymns.  The 11 am service is contemporary with praise music, including guitars, drums and other instruments. Both services offer communion.

Q. What will happen the first time I visit?
A. If you are visiting for the first time, we will not embarrass you, have you stand up, or ask you to give money. We know that many people want to check out the church and “be anonymous” for awhile—and that’s fine with us! Come in, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, and see if this is the church for you.
Q. How long does a service typically last?

A. About an hour.

Q. Is communion offered at every Sunday service?
A. Yes. If you prefer to not receive communion at the Altar, you can cross your arms and you will receive a blessing. You may also choose to stay seated in the pews during communion.
Q. I’m not Episcopalian, may I take communion?
A. Yes. All are welcome.
Q. Is the church accessible?
A. Yes, the church has a handicap ramp allowing easy access.  The parish hall is also accessible.  It is very appropriate to request the ushers to ask the Rector to bring communion directly to you in your pew if the steps leading up to the altar are an obstacle.  We always want you to feel at ease and comfortable.  
Q. I have  been divorced and/or remarried. May I receive communion?
A. Yes, the Church supports and welcomes you to receive Communion as part of your healing and growth.
Q. What about money?
A. During most church services the offering plates will be passed by the ushers.  You are welcome to add a gift of your treasure by putting in cash or a check (payable to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church).  You are also welcome to choose to pass the offering plates without adding anything; it is totally up to you.   The last thing we would ever want is for you to feel pressured.  There is more information about becoming a regular, contributing financial giver in “Next Steps …”
Q. What is the structure for an Episcopal service?
A. The Episcopal Church worships in the “liturgical style,” which means all Episcopal churches follow a relatively common order of service. Being with a community of believers inspires us, nurtures us, encourages us, and comforts us. Our Sunday services throughout the year usually include an opening procession, singing, Bible readings, prayers for ourselves and others, time for meditation, a sermon or pastoral message, and Communion (Holy Eucharist) where we share bread and wine in remembrance of Jesus Christ and the Last Supper.
Q. Is there nursery care available on Sundays?
A. Yes, there is nursery care during the 11 a.m service for children ages 4 and under. Of course children are always welcome in church, but if their parents want a little break, we have loving, trained and screened caregivers downstairs. We love children at St. Paul’s: noise, questions, energy and all!
Q. Do you have a Sunday school?
A. From September through May, we offer the Godly Play program for preschool and elementary aged children at the 11 am service.
 Q. What youth programs do you offer?
A. In addition to our Sunday School program, we have an annual Kids’ Vacation Academy weeklong summer program and the Sierra Service Project summer teen program.  Youth may also serve as acolytes at church services. 
Q. What if I am LGBTQ?  Will I and/or my family be welcomed?
A. Yes! We welcome and affirm people of all sexual orientations. We are one of only two affirming congregations in the City of Benicia.  (www.gaychurch.org)
Q. What do you offer for senior citizens?
A. Seniors are welcome to engage in all of the activities and ministries St. Paul’s offers. They are valued members who serve in many capacities. Some of the ministries especially loved by our seniors are our Older & Wiser Ministry, Stephen Ministry, Community Meal, Keeping in Touch Ministry, Office Angels, Prayer Shawl Ministry, the Garden Committee, Wednesday Morning Bible Study as well as our fourth Friday social events.  (See website for details).
Q. Do you have any services during the week?

A. Yes, Monday through Friday at  9 am we have morning prayer.  On Wednesday mornings at 10 am communion is offered followed by a Bible study at 10:45.

Q. What kinds of community service does your church do?
A. We have a weekly community meal, a  back-to-school backpack drive, Christmas gifts drive, winter clothing collections, 5th Sunday Food Drive, the Peddlers’ Fair, and Sierra Service Project.
Next Steps…
Q. How do I become a member of St. Paul’s?

A. You can contact the church office to schedule a meeting with our Rector to discuss membership. We offer a New Members’ class a couple times a year to introduce you to the Episcopal Church. You may fill out one of our blue Welcome Cards which are at the back of each pew and specify what types of information you’d like to receive from us. Q. How may I financially contribute to St. Paul’s parish?A. Thank you for considering financial support to the ministry of the church.  Once a year, usually in the fall, there is an all-church pledge program for the following year.  If you would like to begin regular (weekly or monthly) financial support of the church at this time, please contact the church office with the request for a pledge card and we will be happy to get one to you, or just start making contributions.

Q.  How may I get involved with the activities of the church?
A. There are so many ways!  In early fall each year, we generally have a Ministry Fair which is designed to introduce people to the many different ways of getting involved in the life of the church. As examples, we have a weekly community meal, a lay ministry, an usher ministry, an altar and flower guild, a  back-to-school backpack drive, Christmas gifts drive, 5th Sunday Food Drive, the Peddlers’ Fair, and Sierra Service Project.   Take a look and see where you feel your gifts and interests might be put to use!  You don’t need to wait to be asked to help out!  Please step out in faith and volunteer!