We are a collection of individuals who come from varied backgrounds and have diverse life experiences. Yet, when we gather in God’s name, our unity is strengthened by our diversity. Our parish vision is one of turning, each to the other, in Christ.
Many people who enjoy worshiping at Saint Paul’s have found their way here from other denominations. We are in the Diocese of Pennsylvania of the Episcopal Church USA , which in turn is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion. As Anglicans, Episcopalians are guided in their beliefs by “scripture, tradition, and reason”, and are sometimes characterized as a “centrist” Christian denomination. More about what it means to be an Episcopalian can be found here. At Saint Paul’s we provide regular opportunities for those inquiring about becoming an Episcopalian. You do not have to “join” anything to come to Saint Paul’s, though some people do choose, after consideration, to be formally received into the Episcopal Church.
Young adults and singles
As in many other communities, the departure of our young students for college and life away from home is a bitter-sweet transition. Often we have watched them grow up, be confirmed, serve as acolytes and readers, and we share the pride of their families as they embark on their next adventure. In this world of increasing mobility, we know that they may not return except to visit. However we welcome young adults who find their way to us when they move to our neighborhood, or who are exploring a faith community for the first time. Our Get Connected brochure lists opportunities for young adults to explore.
Families of every constellation make up the fabric of Saint Paul’s. Those who have younger children appreciate the consideration we give to being “family-friendly” – that is, in providing child care and a nursery, a comfort room at the back of the church, and a progression of Godly Play opportunities on Sunday mornings. Our 9:00am Sunday service is more informal and very accessible for young children, although some families prefer the more traditional form of the 10:30am service. The schedule on Sunday morning is designed to accommodate either choice. Breakfast in the Parish Hall is a popular way for families to begin their Sunday morning together, and a lively Parents Exchange meets while the children are in Church School. Special activities, both on and off campus, are planned throughout the year.
Children are an important part of our community at Saint Paul’s, whether at worship, choristers or Godly Play. Here are just a couple of stories. One time a child, new to her Godly Play class, took her seat with the others in a circle. The storyteller lit a candle to help her and the children get ready for God to join them. The girl started to “scootch” out of the circle. When asked what she was doing she said she was making room for God. Another little girl, after her baptism, during prayer time at Godly Play offered: “Thank you God for all of the little children; and thank you for me.” We teach children to discover their identity as people of God who encounter the mystery of God’s presence in day-to-day life.
Not surprisingly for a parish that has been in existence for more than 150 years, we have a generous number of older folk in our congregation. They bring a deep perspective to our community affairs, having witnessed astonishing local and global changes in their lifetimes. They are active in every parish ministry. We relish the warm interaction that happens when several generations are together, and when life events such as baptisms, weddings, and funerals are marked by the entire parish. We have some physical accommodations in our buildings to assist those who might need them (handicap access, amplified sound). Some of our caring ministries are organized with older people, including those confined to home, in mind.
Gays and lesbians
In a time when sharp divisions of belief define Christian communities across the world, we are clear at Saint Paul’s that we are a place of welcome and acceptance to gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning persons. Same-sex couples sit openly together in the pews, serve on the Vestry and on committees, and participate in all facets of parish life. There is a Gay and Lesbian Fellowship Group that meets regularly. Some of our children have same-sex parents. At the present time gay marriage is not legal in Pennsylvania and we await the leadership of the national Episcopal Church USA in approving rites for the union of same-sex couples.