Who We Are
We are a diverse group of people who gather to pray using the Book of Common Prayer and to learn to live into Jesus’ teaching to care for the people in need in our community and the world.
St. James Episcopal Church in Wooster, Ohio, is a community of people who know ourselves to be loved, forgiven, saved, and united by God in Jesus Christ. In the name of Christ, we welcome anyone and everyone to our community through our worship of God and our work to establish God’s rule in our lives and our world. We welcome especially those who have felt unwelcome or excluded by other churches, especially because of their gender identities or sexual orientations.
Together, we reach out through active ministries, including our Saturday free lunch, our advocacy for the poor and prisoners, the health missions we support in Central America and Ghana, our ministry through Twelve-Step addiction-recovery groups that meet in our building, and our support of environmental justice.
In worship, we are a liturgical church, which means that we follow a set form for our services, with variations throughout the “church year,” which follows the cycle of the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus every year, not just the “big” holy days of Christmas and Easter. We celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion and the Lord’s Supper) every week, because we believe God feeds us through the body and blood of Jesus Christ in the bread and wine. We come forward to the altar to receive Communion, and we welcome everyone to God’s table in God’s holy name.
Our worship, including the prayers from The Book of Common Prayer, is based on the Holy Bible. A priest presides at our services and preaches a short sermon every week. Members of the congregation read most of the Bible lessons aloud, assist in the Communion, lead hymns, and read prayers. Sermons are based on selections from the Bible in a three-year cycle, so that we get to hear sermons from a large part of the Bible. Some people find our services to be more formal and less spontaneous than other churches’ services, but we find a special grace in our liturgy that unites us with the worship of the church over the past 2,000 years.
St. James Episcopal Church was one of the first churches to worship in Wooster, and our buildings have always been in the center of town. The Episcopal Church came from the Church of England, which combined elements of the Catholic tradition with the Protestant Reformation. The Episcopal Church has been called a stool with three legs: Bible, Tradition, and Reason. We are also called the Middle Way, because we try to avoid extremes and bring together diverse elements of the Christian tradition. The word “Episcopal” means we are governed by bishops, in companionship with priests, deacons, and laypeople. The Bishop of Ohio oversees (“bishop” means “overseer”) the Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Ohio, which comprises the northern part of the state.