Chapel and UECNA Practices. Littlewood Episcopal “prochapel” (i.e., a chapel-in-formation) is a liturgical and confessional congregation in connexion with the United Episcopal Church (UECNA). This means our public prayer follows the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) with an Anglican ministry, as well as other standards. The historic Prayer Book has been described as the primary bond of union among Anglicans. If you wish to familiarize yourself with the contents of the American or “standard” BCP, it may be downloaded here. The remainder of our worship is divided between general and particular parts, explained below.
What’s common to Anglicans (and UECNA).
Liturgy. The Liturgy within the BCP allows Anglicans to pray and praise God together, making our responses “common”. Written Prayer, as given by the BCP, ensures that Anglican worship remains Apostolic and Reformed. A Protestant liturgy gives a rhythm and habit for devotion, making the BCP a true exponent for revival.
Subscription. While our final rule of faith is always Scripture, a convenient summation of Anglican belief is found in the 39-Articles. The Articles of Religion are important, protecting scriptural faith from error. Anglican ministers conform to the content of the Articles (called subscription), thereby keeping their sermons and other instructions doctrinally sound. The UECNA uses the 1801 adaptation of the Articles which may be read here.
Sabbath-Keeping. The Lord’s Day is not only a time of rest, but it’s a Day set-apart for public and private devotions. These include Godly conversation, private prayer, and bible study. Class members keep the mark of the Lord’s Day by attending Evening service in addition to their aforenoon place of worship. At the prochapel, evening prayer is scheduled outside church hours to promote fellowship with orthodox Protestants, Anglican or not.
Evening Prayer. This is our weekly Sunday service and our main religious tether to the Anglican church. Evening Prayer has a penitential character, including a general confession for sin, a petition for pardon, ending with songs of praise. Sometimes our lessons and psalms are topically selected, favoring catechetical material over a daily calendar, again, demonstrating the American BCP’s rubrical power.
Catechism. In the making of the 1789 BCP, the church Catechism was slightly revised, perhaps in an Arminian direction, though covering the basics of Faith regarding the Creed, Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and Two Gospel Sacraments. These truths are first-principles whereby a Christian may live and grow to salvation. The Anglican catechism is short yet rich. The chapel normally catechizes Sunday evenings, building upon theological concepts each week. Our longer catechism of preference is the Lewis Edition (1700).
The Lord’s Table or Holy Communion. This is our single public service held quarterly upon the visitation of our UE Vicar, the Rev’d Anthony Castellano. The Lord’s Supper is given at the Meeting House in San Jose. We encourage all Christian folk who are baptized with a public testimony of faith to partake the Bread and Wine. Hence, we enjoy open or ‘Free Communion’.
Confirmation. Confirmation is a formal profession of faith, ratifying vows given at Baptism, ending with congregational prayer and received by a Bishop through the laying of hands. Confirmees are catechized prior to public exam. Anglicans normally require Confirmation (or the desire of) before partaking in Holy Communion. The desire for confirmation and occasional Holy Communion are minimal requisites to UE membership.
Evangelical. ‘Evangelical’ generally means “of the gospel”. But, Evangelicals are also strong advocates for educating laity in matters of Faith. The pastoral ethos behind catechism & preaching implies an optimism about the capacity of lay people to be Holy, likewise encouraging their spiritual gifts and roles in ministry. So, our prochapel advances lay-offices like class leaders, stewards, exhorters, & preachers.
“as newborn babes, long for spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grown thereby unto salvation” 1Peter 2:2 ASV
What’s distinctive (or perhaps “Methodistic”) about the Chapel.
Low Church: Low-church is more than an absence of candles, incense, bells, vestments, etc.. Low-churchmen historically sought unity with fellow Protestants, widening canons and rubrics to endear common Interest. Low-church proposals for comprehension were enshrined by the American BCP not excluding the 1892 and 1928 revisions. Baptismal fellowship was the starting principle for most Low Churchmen.
Conferences: Occasionally, our chapel enjoys an informal service which includes short testimonies, exhortations, and lectures given either by chapel-members or guest ministers. Historically speaking, ‘lectures’ were more rigorous expositions of doctrine given by a cleric or scholar, though not the same as a pulpit sermon.
Psalmody. Curiously, we are the only Anglican congregation on the West Coast that uses metric-Psalters. “Metrical” or “metered” means the Psalms of the Bible were translated for their setting to music. The poetry of metered-Psalms inspires the heart while duly teaching Scripture. Our Sunday service is exclusive to metered-Psalms.
Lining-Out. Though ‘lining’ or calling-out has varied over time and place, a portion of a song is read aloud before singing it. Lining is done before and after Common Prayer. Not every song needs lining, but lining speeds the memorization of lyrics, sewing scriptural hymns to the heart. Occasionally, we stop-short at the song’s end for the sake of a brief and edifying commentary.
American Bible. For scripture lessons, our chapel uses the American Standard Bible (ASV). The ASV was published in 1901 by the American Committee who assisted with the official revision of the King James. The UEC recognizes the American Bible as “one of the two translations known as the Revised Versions“. Our interest in the ASV includes its bold use of the Lord’s name, Jehovah.
Classes. Classes vary in size from four to twelve people. They are small groups of select Christians pledged to uphold a General Rule, conferring regularly with one another while under the watch of a lay-leader. The leader may be elected or appointed depending on circumstance, but class-leaders are normally churchmen known to our family circle. The only real requirement for class membership is a due fear of God and desire to work righteousness.
Class Locations: Class meetings needn’t convene at our home chapel. In fact, each class or house can be their own “little church”. A classes & chapels could develop between Morgan Hill and Sacramento CA, forming a single society or congregation upon quarterly conferences held at locales perhaps like the Friends’ Meeting House. As classes multiply, so do lay-leaders, preachers, prochapels, missionary stations, Tabernacles, etc..
Prayer Covers: The chapel encourages the use of head coverings among women at worship indicating their married or domestic state before God. Women may testify and exhort but not preach (e.g., the lay-office of Deaconess). The UEC maintains the Scriptural practice of ordaining men to the primitive orders of deacon, presbyter, and bishop.
Other Solemnities. Though not found in the prayer book, occasional & private services are borrowed from historic Methodism. We’re likely the only Protestant congregation in California to make use of night-watches, letter-days, and the Covenant service. If you inquire about our regular rites, ask about these prudential practices as well.
“I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing” 1Timothy 2:8 ASV