Who is St. James?
St. James the Greater was the author of the Book of James in the New Testament and was the first apostle to die for the Christian faith. In the gospels James is named as the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. James and John were mending their fishing nets in their father's boat in Galilee when Jesus called them to become His disciples. Jesus used the Greek word Boanerges (“sons of thunder”) to describe James and John because of their fiery tempers, impetuous characters, and firm convictions. Of the twelve disciples, Jesus permitted only Peter, James and John to be with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. Herod put James to death by the sword. St. James' feast day is July 25.
Who is St. Monica?
St. Monica of Hippo (A.D. 332–387) was the mother of Augustine, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions. Monica was born in the North African city of Tagaste. As a mother, she sent Augustine to a bishop to be convinced of his errors. The bishop, however, was unable to prevail, and he advised Monica simply to continue to pray for her son, telling her "It is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish." At the age of 28, Augustine received grace, according to his Confessions. He came to orthodox Christianity and became a great theologian. Monica's son is now known as St. Augustine. St. Monica's feast day is May 4.
Why are you sometimes called Anglicans?
Because the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is the gathering of Anglican and Episcopal churches from around the world. Today, the Anglican Communion comprises more than 80 million members in 44 regional and national member churches in more than 160 countries. The Episcopal church is part of the Anglican Communion, and is comprised of 109 dioceses in 16 nations. At the head of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He is our spiritual leader and is often referred to as “First among equals” when he interacts with the bishops of the Anglican Communion around the world.
The Episcopal church, established shortly after the American Revolution, has its roots in the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, known as the Church of England, had a strong following in colonial America. But when the colonies won their independence, the majority of America’s Anglican clergy refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch as was required. As a result, the Episcopal Church was formed.
The vibrancy of the Anglican Communion reflects the lives of its congregants and their commitment to God’s mission in the world.
What does it mean to be Anglo-Catholic in the Episcopal Church?
One of the great strengths of the Episcopal Church is its ability to embrace a diversity of ways in which to worship God. Our own community's style of worship is a result of the Oxford movement in the 19th century, which sought to restore to worship meaningful ancient Christian rites that were abolished during the 16th and 17th century Protestant reforms in the Church of England. Anglo-Catholicism calls for a return to the doctrinal traditions and practices of the early church.
What about the Word?
Sermons at St. Monica and St. James are most often liturgical, seeking to relate the Holy Scripture and our worship to the daily lives of our people. The Word preached is the effort of our clergy to expand our understanding of God’s love and purpose for our lives.
May I take communion?
Yes. If God has put the desire in your heart, feel free to receive the Holy Communion with us. You need not be a parishioner or a confirmed Episcopalian.
How do I go about becoming baptized or having my children baptized?
You can simply talk with one of our priests – who will be very pleased to see you!
What is that delightful fragrance in this church?
It’s liturgical incense. In less sanitary and hygienic times, the Early church, believing that the smoke could purify objects and people who were censed with it, started using incense during the Holy Eucharist. Today, we use it symbolically to signify our prayers rising in our sight, in God’s presence.
It is a good example of our Anglo-Catholic approach to worship: engaging our whole self and all our senses. Sight, sound, motion, smell, taste, and touch – all of these things assist us in worshiping God.
Is that music coming from a parish choir?
Yes, the choir is made up of parish members. Music is a crucial part of our worship at St. Monica and St. James. The choir sings a wide range of repertoire from Gregorian chant to contemporary pieces. The service music and hymnody represent a breadth of music tradition. Of course, there is always room in the choir for more voices!
How old is the church building?
The original building was built in 1880 (on land purchased and donated by the then-Librarian of the U.S. Senate) and consisted in what is now the nave. The current sanctuary (the space behind the communion rail) was completed a year or two later. The Great Hall came next, followed by the space for the current nursery and the kitchen below.
What should I wear to church?
There is no “dress code” or need for fancy attire. Communicants dress as they themselves feel is appropriate.
What is our role in the Capitol Hill community?
St. Monica and St. James plays an important role in the local community. It is a place where tradition in our worship prepares us for life in a very dynamic society. It is a place where people forge new friendships, enjoy a sense of family, and find unique opportunities for service in this community of faith.
Are lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender, (LGBTQ) people welcome?
The Episcopal Church welcomes all people. Our sign on the street says “The Episcopal Church welcomes you” -- and we mean it. We believe God created all of us out of love. We are all God's creation and therefore loved. God calls us to love one another and to love God as God loves us.
Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)
How can I feel more a part of the church community?
If this is your first time at the Parish of St. Monica and St. James, please sign our visitors' book or fill out a visitor's card so we can keep you informed about church activities. Regular attendance at Sunday worship and the coffee hour following is a good way to become familiar with new faces and allow members to become familiar with yours. Several times a year, we hold a Newcomer’s Class where you can meet in a small group with the priest-in-charge to learn more about life at St. Monica and St. James. Volunteering to serve at mass, helping out in the parish office, setting up or cleaning up after the coffee hour, singing in the choir or participating in adult education classes are other good ways to become a part of the community. If you’d like a call from one of our priests personally, simply indicate that on your visitor’s card or by going to the "contact" page on this website. Either of our priests will be delighted to speak with you!