Some Common Questions

Is this a Roman Catholic parish?
No. Church of the Advent is a parish of the Episcopal diocese of California. Although our liturgy may look very similar to a Roman Catholic Mass, the Episcopal Church is independent of the Vatican and the Bishop of Rome.

So why do you say that you believe in the "holy Catholic Church" when you say the creed?
We consider ourselves catholic in the sense of being part of the world-wide "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church." The Episcopal Church is part of the universal Church that has come to us nearly two thousand years ago from the Apostles.

Are Episcopalians the same as Anglicans?
The Episcopal Church in the United States is one of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, a world-wide family of churches with roots in the Church of England. The Episcopal Church has approximately 2.5 million members of the 60 million-member Anglican Communion.

I've been to an Episcopal church before. This one is different. Why?
The Church of the Advent is an Anglo-Catholic parish. The Episcopal Church includes many different ways of worship, from the plain and simple "low church" to the beauty and ritual that you see in our parish. The Anglo-Catholic tradition in our Church is a result of the Oxford Movement of the 19th century, which sought to restore ancient customs of the Church which were abolished during the English Reformation of the 16th century.

Why do you burn incense during the liturgy?
There are many references to the use of incense in Scripture, particularly when offerings to the Lord were made at the altar. In ancient times, it was believed that that the smoke from the incense could ritually purify the objects and people that were present at the Eucharist. We use it today to signify that our prayers are rising to God, and to maintain our connection to the rites of the ancient Church.

Why is music so important here?
Music is prayer. It is one of the ways that we offer praise to God. Our choir is well known for Gregorian and Anglican chant and for sacred music from the classical and contemporary repertoire.

Is it true that the Episcopal Church is primarily made up of wealthy people?
The Episcopal Church contains a cross-section of the community. While some of us are financially well-off , many are not. This parish is certainly not well-to-do. We are located in an urban area of San Francisco that is home to many working-class and poor people.

Do most of the people who worship here live in the neighborhood?
Some of our parishioners live in the area, but many travel from the East Bay or from cities south of San Francisco in order worship here. Our Anglo-Catholic tradition and our respect for diversity attract people from all over the Bay Area.

What do you mean by diversity?
Our community is comprised of many different kinds of people. Middle-class professionals worship alongside those who are homeless. We are white, black, Asian and Latino, students and grandparents, married couples, gays and lesbians. We are united by the love of Christ and his Gospel message.

Can women participate in the liturgy here?
Yes. Although there are Anglo-Catholic parishes that do not permit women to serve as ministers of the liturgy, this is not true at Church of the Advent. The participation of women is welcome in all aspects of parish life, from the celebration of the Mass to the Altar Guild.

What about gay people?
The sign hanging in front of our church says "The Episcopal Church welcomes you." Everyone is included in this welcome. The Church of the Advent is a member of Oasis, the lesbian and gay ministry of the Diocese of California.

I'm not an Episcopalian. May I take communion?
Yes. All baptized Christians are welcome to take communion here.

How do I find out more about this parish?
You are warmly encouraged to visit and worship with us, and stay for coffee and conversation after Mass. Members of the clergy staff and Newcomers' Ministry are available to greet you and answer your questions. You may also contact Father Paul Burrows, our Rector, by email or by calling the parish office.