FAQs about Epiphany

Unlike other FAQ pages, we’re not just listing here the questions we LIKE to answer. We’re listing the questions people actually ask us about our church.

  1. Where is your church located? We’re at 2602 Gilmer Avenue in Tallassee, AL 36078, just across Gilmer from Tallassee Health and Rehab. We worship in the nave, the building toward the rear of the property with the big double wooden doors that open to your right as you arrive. The smaller building on the front of the property is our parish hall.
  2. What time is worship? 10:30 am on Sundays.
  3. How do people dress for your worship service? Just about any way you can imagine. Occasionally someone will dress up in a coat and tie or a nice dress, but the more typical dress is casual. Several regulars wear jeans, and sometimes a t-shirt. A collared shirt would be more typical.
  4. Do you drink real wine when you take communion? Yes we do.
  5. Why? Why not? We use wine in our communion because it’s what Jesus instructed us to do. But if you and your church prefer to use something else like grape juice, it’s fine. We think God understands.
  6. Don’t you get woozy during worship? No, the tiny amount of wine each person sips is nowhere near enough to cause intoxication.
  7. But won’t you cause your brother to stumble? No, there’s no evidence that anyone ever began or resumed a destructive drinking habit as the result of taking part in Holy Communion in the Episcopal church. Anyone who would like to avoid drinking wine is free to do so; all he has to do is to cross his arms over his chest, which is a signal to the server that he desires a blessing instead of taking the wine.
  8. Aren’t you afraid you’ll get somebody else’s germs drinking from the same cup? My, my, you are fascinated with our wine-drinking, aren’t you? We encourage anyone who knows he or she is contagious to pass up the cup during the serving of the Eucharist. Our servers carefully wipe the cup after each person sips from it, and the alcohol itself controls germs. It hasn’t been a problem for our church or for any church we know about that uses a common cup.
  9. I have celiac disease, and I’m concerned about eating gluten during communion. Can I avoid eating the bread during communion? Yes, but you don’t need to. We don’t want to do anything during communion that would compromise your health, and we’re quite sure God doesn’t either. The wafers we use for communion (we call it the Holy Eucharist) usually contain a small amount of gluten. We encourage parishioners concerned about gluten to bring their own gluten-free bread. Simply take it with you to the communion rail when you come up for communion and offer it to the priest. He or she will bless it, it will become part of the consecrated host, and the priest will offer it back to you as part of the Holy Eucharist.
  10. Do you permit mothers to breast-feed their babies during worship? Yes, absolutely.
  11. Aren’t you more or less like Catholics? In many ways, we are. We share with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters a similar style of worship, our priest wears vestments similar to those used in the Roman Catholic church, and we don’t exclude the Apocrypha from the Bible as many protestant churches do. On the other hand, there are some things we do and believe differently from the Roman Catholic church. We welcome women to serve as priests and bishops, for example, and our priests can marry. We venerate and respect Mary, the mother of Jesus, but it’s not our tradition to ask her to intercede with God on our behalf. And we believe questions of family planning and contraception are private ones on which the church need not take a position.
  12. What do Episcopalians believe? There’s surprisingly little unanimity in the Episcopal Church around political or social issues. What unites us is a shared understanding of God’s role in our lives and how we worship God. You can read more about our beliefs here.
  13. Your church is beautiful, but I can’t see it from the street. When are you going to tear down that little old house that’s in the way? That little old house, which many of us call the Little House, has served us well in the past as a place to worship and continues to serve us well today as a place for informal gatherings. We have a plan for a parish hall beside the nave, and when and if we build it, there’s a good chance we will no longer use the existing parish hall. We’re in a prayerful time of discernment around the tender question whether God wants us to build a new parish hall and take on significant new debt or to preserve our financial resources for other priorities.
  14. Is your church accessible to the handicapped? Yes and no. Both the Little House and the nave where we worship are served by ramps and are accessible. Our restrooms are not yet accessible. When we offer Holy Eucharist (communion), most people walk forward and take the small step up to the chancel to reach the communion rail. If this is difficult for you, we’re glad to bring the elements of the Holy Eucharist to you in your pew or wheel chair.
  15. I love that you hand out beans and rice to people, but aren’t you nervous that someone could get food who doesn’t need it? Not at all. We believe that God calls us to help people, not to check their bona fides to make sure there’s a need. Actually, we’re far more concerned about the people who do need food and, for whatever reason, aren’t getting it. That’s what makes us nervous.
  16. I appreciate the food I can get at Beans & Rice. Can you help me pay my rent or my utilities? Unfortunately, no. Along with many other churches in Tallassee, we belong to and provide financial support to ACTS – the Association of Christians in Tallassee (334-283-6750) – which is set up to provide a full spectrum of support to those in need.
  17. Aren’t all Episcopalians rich? From your mouth to God’s ear! No, we can assure you that we’re a lot like members of other churches. Some of us have more financial wealth than we need, some of us get by okay, and some of us are struggling to meet our financial obligations.
  18. Do you believe in gay priests and gay bishops? That depends on what you mean by “you.” We are part of the Episcopal Church USA, which has ordained some openly gay priests and elected some openly gay bishops. Here at Epiphany, that’s good news to some of us and bad news to some of us. Even those of us who disagree strongly with some of the decisions the connectional church makes, however, have no interest in severing our connection with that church. For better or worse, we are Episcopalians and likely to remain so.
  19. I heard that the Episcopal church is now performing gay marriages. Is that happening at Epiphany? Our bishop has recently acted to permit churches that wish to bless same-sex unions to do so. This has not yet happened at Epiphany. If you and your partner are interested in having a blessing for your same-sex union, contact Father Wells to discuss it.
  20. Do you believe in abortion? No we don’t. We believe that any taking of innocent life is a tragedy. The question whether government should step in to prohibit abortion is one of many on which reasonable people disagree, and neither we nor the Episcopal Church has tried to take an official position on it. As is true on so many issues, we Episcopalians welcome earnest, frank, and spiritual dialogue about this and many other painful issues, believing as we do that our God is large enough, loving enough, and secure enough to accept our doubts and struggles along with our faith and love.
  21. What version of the Bible do you use? The Episcopal Church authorizes the use of many versions of the Bible:
    • King James or Authorized Version (the historic Bible of The Episcopal Church);
    • English Revision (1881)
    • American Revision (1901)
    • Revised Standard Version (1952)
    • Jerusalem Bible (1966)
    • New English Bible with the Apocrypha (1970)
    • Good News Bible / Today’s English Version (1976)
    • New American Bible (1970)
    • Revised Standard Version, an Ecumenical Edition (1973)
    • New International Version (1978)
    • New Jerusalem Bible (1987)
    • Revised English Bible (1989)
    • New Revised Standard Version (1990)

    At Epiphany, it’s our custom to use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible for our Scripture readings in worship, but Father Wells sometimes elects to use a different version when he believes it to be more appropriate or helpful.

  22. Why don’t you use the King James Bible? My church does. Actually, we do. The King James or Authorized Version of the Bible was produced by the Anglican Church of which we are a part, and we’re quite proud of it. We prefer the NRSV for the same reason most Biblical scholars do, because it enjoys a reputation for a good mix of literal accuracy and readability. You can read a short description of the various versions of the Bible here. On the other hand, the King James version is traditional, poetic, and well known. if the King James version of the Bible opens you and your church to God, by all means you should continue using it.
  23. I understand that the Episcopal Church formed because the King of England wanted a divorce and the Pope wouldn’t give him one. Is this correct? That makes a great sound bite, and it’s in fact the conception that many in the US have about the formation of the Church of England. (And the Church of England gave rise later to the Anglican Communion of which Epiphany and the Episcopal Church USA are a part.) The reality is at once more subtle and more complex. If you’re willing to delve into it, read this short description about the events that led to the decision to form the Church of England. The desire of King Henry VIII for a divorce was certainly one of the factors involved, but the dispute with the Bishop of Rome had been brewing for decades and touched several nations in Europe, not just England.What questions should we have included but didn’t? Please let us know if you’d like to see this page address other questions about Epiphany or about the Episcopal Church.

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