I’m New Here

For those who are thinking about visiting Holy Cross for worship, here’s some information to help you know what to expect on a Sunday:

What building will I look for? We are located at 2510 Gateway Road, ½ mile west of Trader Joe’s in the Bressi Ranch area of Carlsbad, 1 mile southeast of Palomar Airport. Our brownstone building doesn’t LOOK like a religious building from the outside. Our building is part of an office complex called The Ocean Collection. Because of our location, we have very restricted signage, so look for signs at the driveway that say Holy Cross with an arrow pointing to the parking lot.

Where do I park? If you are driving, there is ample parking adjacent to the building.

What if I can’t drive? As a small congregation, we don’t have a church van or transportation program, per se. However, several members who are not able to drive get rides to worship from fellow members. This is also true for our outreach and other programs that happen on or off-site. If you are unable to get to us on Sunday, but live in North County, please phone the church office during office hours, and we’ll do our best to help!

Is there a dress code? No. Beyond the requirement to wear clothing, people at our church wear wide-ranging dress, from suits to shorts (we are in Southern California, so shorts are common). Please dress in a way that will make you feel most comfortable.

Is your building ADA compliant? Yes, there are ramps to the sidewalk, and all entrances and doorways are wheelchair accessible, as are bathrooms. We have a baby changing station located in the Women’s restroom, and will have one in the Men’s restroom by May of 2017. Instead of pews in the worship space, we have moveable chairs to make room for wheelchairs. Anyone whose mobility is compromised can be assisted by an usher. We have several retired nurses in the congregation as well as CPR-trained members and one certified CPR instructor.

How are people welcomed at Holy Cross? While our building has several exterior doors, we have one main entrance, clearly marked. People usually arrive for the 9AM service about 15-20 minutes ahead of time. Greeters are at the door to welcome everyone. Greeters hand out booklets to guide everyone in worship. We are a friendly congregation, so don’t be surprised if others welcome you, besides the greeters. Know that our welcome is sincere, and we try not to be overbearing.

Are people identified? At Holy Cross, we have name badges for all – members, first-time visitors, and everyone in between. When you arrive, greeters at the door will welcome you, and if you’re visiting, create a name badge for you. No one is required to wear a name badge, but many of us do, because knowing names helps to welcome people personally. And if you decide to come back and let us know, we’ll have your name badge ready for you the next time.

Is church safe? First of all, we strive to be a safe community for all people, especially children and those who are vulnerable in any way. Our Vicar and leaders have taken special training called Safeguarding God’s People that helps to safeguard religious communities against any form of abuse. Secondly, our greeters and ushers are here to assist, so if you or a family member has a health concern or other need, we will do our very best to help. Lastly, we are aware that many people have had unpleasant experiences in religious settings where they expected to feel welcome and comfortable and instead were made to feel unwelcome. We try very much to welcome people on their own terms. At the same time, we cannot know someone’s needs before they walk in the door unless we are informed ahead of time. If you have special needs or concerns, please feel free to contact the Vicar ahead of time.

What are the options for our children? Children are welcome to be where they feel most comfortable. If your child or children do not wish to take part in Sunday School, that’s perfectly fine with us. It is necessary for all children to be supervised by their parent or guardian during their stay at Holy Cross. For children who do want to take part in learning and formation, we have a Sunday School curriculum called Godly Play (see the link under Spiritual), co-led by three trained lay leaders who delight in the ministry of teaching children. While we do not currently have a formation program for older children and youth, we are discerning age-appropriate learning opportunities to begin in May of 2017.

What is the form and style of worship? Sunday worship is according to the Episcopal book of worship called The Book of Common Prayer. To some, our worship feels prescribed because the language of worship comes from a book. However, no two Sunday services are alike. The prayerbook came into being in order to make the language of worship accessible to all, not just the religious leaders or the wealthy and educated classes. We still adhere to this tradition, and believe that our “common” prayer is a deep source of unity.

There are two main parts to Sunday worship: the first part begins with sung hymns, Scripture readings, a sermon and prayers. Our music is accompanied by an organist/pianist, and we also are blessed to incorporate the music of a guitarist on most Sundays. Once or twice a month, a choir that consists of members sings during worship. After the first part of worship, we greet one another in the Peace of God. Following the Peace, we share the sacrament of Holy Communion. In the Episcopal tradition, Holy Communion is central to Christian life. Each Sunday is a little Easter because Sunday is the Day of Resurrection. When we remember this sacred meal that Jesus shared with friends on the night before He died, we obey His command “Do this in remembrance of me.” We believe that God is present in the sacraments of bread and wine, although how this happens remains a mystery.

We receive Christ’s Body in the form of consecrated bread placed in open hands. We receive Christ’s Blood in the form of blessed wine from a common cup. Communion is valid in either kind, so if you have a gluten- or alcohol-free preference, then receive either the bread or the wine, and cross your arms to show that you do not wish to receive the other form. Even if you do not want to receive Holy Communion, we invite you to come forward for a blessing. To do this, come forward to the rail and cross your arms across your chest. If you would like for someone to bring Communion to you, please signal to an usher.

What ever your faith tradition, we invite you to participate in worship as you like. Responses are indicated in boldfaced italics, and hymns can be found in the booklet itself, or in the maroon Hymnal 1982 or Renew located under pew chairs.

Will I be welcomed during worship? It is our custom to welcome newcomers and guests at the end of worship on most Sundays, but if you don’t want to be welcomed to the congregation, let a greeter or usher know, and we’ll be sure to respect this boundary.

What happens after worship? One of the most important aspects of our life together is a social time for all ages in our social space called the Tietge Room. This is an informal time to get to know one another, celebrate special occasions, and welcome visitors and guests (one on one). There is no obligation to be part of this fellowship. Also, we sometimes hold Bible Study or other classes for adults. When we do so, there is a brief time for fellowship after worship, then the study takes place for any who wish to attend for about 45 minutes in a classroom or back in the worship space.

Will I be asked for personal information? Yes, a greeter or usher or our Vicar will ask if you’d be willing to provide us an e-mail, phone number and mailing address. This is only for the purpose of communicating with you after you visit. Your information will not be shared beyond Holy Cross, or be used for marketing purposes. If you do not wish to share this information, just let us know and we’ll respect your boundary.

What happens after I visit? It is our custom for a member of our greeters ministry to deliver a “welcome” bag to those who live in North San Diego County the week following your visit. If you are willing to give us a mailing address, that’s how we’ll make the delivery. We’ll contact you via e-mail or phone ahead of time and ask if you are open to receiving a “welcome” bag. If you aren’t, we’ll respect your boundary.

A few closing thoughts:  

At Holy Cross, we recognize that people come to visit church for all kinds of reasons, having diverse backgrounds and experiences. Every person and every situation is different. We try to honor that and not insist on uniformity. This requires flexibility and improvisation on our part, but it enriches our understanding of welcoming and the beauty and diversity of the God’s people.

Newcomers Events, New Members Orientation and Inquirers’ Classes. We hold Newcomers Events for guests who have visited several times who live in North San Diego County. These social gatherings provide an opportunity for newcomers to learn more and to find out ministries that Holy Cross offers. We welcome questions in this venue, either in a group setting or one to one. We also hold New Members’ Orientations twice a year for persons/families who have joined Holy Cross. This orientation helps us to share more about the history and mission of Holy Cross with new members, cover logistics of how we do ministry, and learn more about your interests and passions as they relate to following God’s call in your life. Once a year (during five 90-minute sessions), we offer Inquirers’ Classes for anyone who wants to learn more about faith, spirituality and The Episcopal Church. These classes are co-led by our Vicar and lay leaders, and they are conversational in nature.

You don’t have to be a member of Holy Cross to be part of our community. Some persons attend Bible Study and other learning offerings, and others take part in outreach ministries without ever coming to worship. We welcome new members, but in no way require membership to participate. We all try to pay attention to the way God calls us to live out our faith — at work, home, and/or in the religious community. We are here to support each other in serving God and God’s people. This being true, when special requirements are necessary for particular ministries of learning, pastoral care or outreach (like being trained or screened with a background check), we must fulfill those requirements before allowing someone to participate.

We delight in knowing that people are part of our community whether or not they come to worship with us. Our website followers, audio link listeners and Facebook friends have a sense of who we are, what we do, and how we live the Gospel through these and other forms of social media. We do our best to welcome everyone who takes interest in Holy Cross in what ever way that may be!

We won’t hound you to join us. If you come to worship with us for a while and decide not to become a member, we hope we will have contributed to your spiritual journey in a positive way. We welcome new members, and hope that you might decide to become a member of Holy Cross, but we don’t measure success by trying to make every guest and visitor a member.

We expect newcomers to transform us, not for the church to make everyone the same. Because we have experienced this wonderful lesson firsthand in recent years, we try to maintain a balance between living into the organization that we’ve carefully organized and being open to new possibilities. We are grateful for so many new members of all ages who in recent years have changed Holy Cross for the better!