First Time Visitor?


So you’re coming to visit on a Sunday! We’re happy to welcome you – we have a place for you. Many people are nervous about visiting a church for the first time – it’s really common. We’re really nice and not scary at all. But in case you don’t believe us, in an effort to help you be less nervous about a visit to St. Peter’s, we’ve created this page to explain a little bit of what you’ll find and what you may want to know if you come to St. Peter’s for a visit. To learn more about The Episcopal Church and our tradition in general, click here.

When are services? Ah yes, always helpful! We have two Sunday morning services at  8:00 and 10:30 am.  The 10:30 service includes a special sermon for children.

What do people wear to Saint Peter’s on Sundays? Yes, people really think about this and ask! We tend to be a causal community, which translates to wearing whatever you’re comfortable in. Most people wear ‘business casual’ or casual. Jackets and ties are the exception at St. Peter’s for men. Ladies typically wear slacks, although dresses are not uncommon either. In summer you’ll see shorts and flip-flops. Blue jeans are common all year round.

Am I going to have to stand up and introduce myself? No, unless you spontaneously shout out. We’re small enough that we’ll notice you’re a visitor, but we prefer to talk to you one on one. We know how embarrassing it can be to stand up in front a church of strangers, so we don’t ask anyone to do it! You should, however expect that someone will speak to you and ask if you’re visiting. They may also offer you a visitor card to fill out, which allows the Rector to contact you about any questions you may have. Visitor cards are found in the pews or in the foyer and can be left in an offering plate or handed to the Rector or any of the ushers.


Where do I park? We have ample parking in our parking lot. Look for spaces reserved for visitors as you enter the parking lot and back behind the church as well.

Where to I enter the building? Ok, you’re in the parking lot, now what? Many people enter through the porch just behind the original church building (the part with the steeple on it!). There is a set of glass doors with landscaping in front of them – this is the foyer entrance. If you’re in the back part of the parking lot you’ll see a small porch entrance on the bottom level and you can come in that way. If you’re a few minutes late – don’t worry. The easiest way to get in is to walk around to the steeple on Fisher and enter through the church’s front doors. The entrance to the sanctuary is in the front of the space, so if you come in late through that door, everyone will see you!

Once I’m in the building where do I go? Just wander around until you see people sitting still, facing the same direction.   Just kidding (although that could work). If you enter through the foyer doors where the entrance is landscaped with roses and an ornamental tree, you will find the main sanctuary entrance immediately on your right.  


If you enter through the lower level door, you will come up the stairs or continue past the stairs to the elevator and take the elevator up to the upper level. Once on the upper level the foyer and sanctuary are to your right and the parish hall is down the hallway on the left.

Are my children welcome in the services? Absolutely. We like kids. A lot. Most people don’t get kids up and ready on Sunday morning in time for the 8:00 am service (where they’re still welcome), so we’re used to seeing kids at 10:30. We’re also used to small children making noise. It’s their gift and they do it well. We have ‘busy bags’ at the front of the church for kids to color with and play.


If you have a child that is pre-school aged or younger and you prefer that they go to the nursery, we provide nursery care from 9:30 to 12:00 each Sunday. The nursery is located just off the main foyer across from the sanctuary.   All kids are welcome in the services, regardless of age. One tip: parents often want to hide their kids in the back, but kids have a hard time seeing from the back. They might actually be less bored and more engaged if you can sit towards the front where they can see.


Do you make accommodations for disabilities? For those who use a wheelchair, there is a pew cutout in the front of the church. In the church we have audio amplification, including personal headsets for those with hearing impairment. Headsets can be found in the windowsill at the front of the church.

Can I receive communion? At St. Peter’s all who seek Christ or a deeper knowledge of him are welcome to receive communion. Just follow the direction of the ushers to receive communion at the appropriate time.

How do I receive communion in the Episcopal Church? Typically you would receive bread and wine, although you can receive one or the other if you prefer not to receive bread. When receiving the bread, it is customary to place one hand on top of the other, palms up and open. The priest will place a piece of bread (a wafer) in your palm. You can eat it immediately or wait for the wine. When receiving the wine, it is customary to hold the base of the chalice and assist the Eucharistic minister as they guide the cup to your lips. If you choose to receive wine but do not want to drink from the cup, you can intinct (dip) your wafer into the wine. If you wish to intinct, hold the bread so that the minister can see it and they will know you intend to dip it. Be careful not to dip your fingers in the wine, and if you drop your bread, don’t panic and don’t reach for it. The minister will know what to do – and don’t get too embarrassed – it happens!

Communion is received at the communion rail, kneeling or standing. The custom at St. Peter’s is that everyone at the rail stays at the rail until all persons at the front have received the bread and the wine. When the last person receives everyone returns to their seats. 

Church is over, now what? We welcome you to join us for coffee after any of our services. Coffee is typically served in the front foyer(Narthex) or the parish hall, on the left hand side of the long hallway. You and/or your children are also welcome to join us for Christian formation. We have classes for adults at 9:30 am and Sunday school for  kids pre-k at 10 am and kindergarten through fifth grade at 10:30. 


© 2018 Saint Peter's Episcopal Poolesville
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