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Etiquette for Sunday Services
Because church should be comfortable for everyone.
Congregational practices differ widely. So newcomers can feel as at home as members in our sanctuary, here are the answers to a few etiquette questions we’re frequently asked.
Q. Is it appropriate to talk during the prelude?
A. No. Our prelude is timed to end – not begin– at the scheduled time for the service. We ask that you plan to arrive at least five minutes before that time. Once the prelude begins, please use that time to settle in, catch your breath, reflect and begin to get in touch with your inner dimension of depth. However, if you do arrive before the prelude, please come in and gab away.
Q. What about talking during the postlude?
A. Absolutely. As Christian Rich, a retired music director, put it: the postlude is walkin’ and talkin’ music. When the postlude begins, let the sounds of human conviviality commence!
Q. Is it appropriate to applaud?
A. We’ve found that “no clapping” rules are just too restrictive. We do, however, want to avoid casual, rote applause. While silence following a beautiful piece of music can be wonderful and provocative, some performances just cry out for some type of response: applause, Halleluiah…something! So, our requested norm is simple: please refrain from clapping unless you just can’t help it.
The one exception to this simple rule is when children are performing. Then, we applaud as a way of affirming our children and their efforts.
Q. Can I enjoy my morning coffee and muffin along with the sermon?
A. Food and drink are not permitted in the sanctuary (except water for guest soloists).
Q. I’m not likely to get a call during the service. Can’t I just leave my cell phone on?
A. Why take the chance of having hundreds of heads turn in your direction as your cell phone disrupts a beautiful musical number or an on-the-edge-of-your-seat part of the sermon? Please turn your cell phone off as you enter the sanctuary.