History of St. Augustine Episcopal Church OKC
After much prayer by two declining northwest Oklahoma City congregations, St. George’s Parish and St. Matthias’ Mission, an agreement was made to unite together as a new mission on October 25, 1980. At the time of the merger, there were approximately 100 households, representing about 250 members.
St. Augustine of Canterbury was the name chosen from a list proposed by the combined congregations. On November 7, 1980, the Diocesan Convention formally approved the merger; thus forming our new Mission,
with Father Herod as Vicar.
Services were held at the St. George’s location until both properties could be sold. On February 13, 1981, St. Augustine was officially incorporated as a new mission in the Diocese of Oklahoma. On September 11, 1983, St. Augustine of Canterbury petitioned the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma to become a Parish, and parish status was granted on October 20, 1983, at the Diocesan Convention.
The St. Matthias property was sold in October of 1981 and the proceeds placed into a building fund. In late June of 1984, the St. George’s property on Center Street finally sold and a quick move was made into a rented warehouse space on Memorial Road. With the help of the whole parish painting, hammering, and unboxing, the warehouse became a true place of worship for the next twenty months. Although not a prime location for a new church, the church continued to grow at a very steady rate. During the time at the warehouse, the land was purchased, and plans were made to build a new church facility. The ceremonial groundbreaking was held on Palm Sunday, 1985 for the new building. Although the new facility was not complete, the first service at the
present location was held on Thanksgiving Day 1985. Two years after moving into the warehouse, Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986, St. Augustine officially began its mission in its new location on North May Avenue,
Oklahoma City. The Dedication and Consecration Services were held on Sunday, May 4, 1986. We are proud to be an Episcopal Church in Oklahoma City!
Today the church is vibrant and growing. In the summer of 2010, the church called a new Vicar, The Rev. Joseph C. Alsay, to serve as our spiritual leader. Father Alsay began his tenure on July 1, 2010. His first sermon literally included fireworks from the pulpit and the excitement has not stopped since--be it dogs, cats, turtles, or other critters coming up the aisle to be blessed at a service in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, or the camels coming up the aisle on Epiphany. The fun and surprises have not stopped. We look forward to continued growth in both size and spirituality.
Liturgical Practices Explained
Processions: At the beginning of worship the cross
leads the procession, representing our baptismal journey from death to
life. Some bow as the cross passes, honoring the mystery of salvation.
At the conclusion of the liturgy the cross leads us forth to serve God
in our daily lives.
A Gospel book is also carried sometimes in procession. The gospel is read in the midst of the assembly as a sign of God coming to us in Jesus Christ. As the gospel is announced some worshippers make a small cross
on their forehead, lips and breast, a prayer that the Word may dwell in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts. We treasure the oral reading of scripture by lay readers, deacons and priests, and place high value on preaching that connects these ancient texts with our contemporary context.
Gifts of money, bread and wine are carried forward during the offertory procession. Our financial gifts support the ministry of the congregation, the Church around the world, and outreach to the poor and needy. With the bread and wine we offer our life and work. By sharing in the Eucharist we become the body of Christ for the world.
Signs of the Cross:
The sign of the cross has been made by Christians since
earliest times. We make the sign of the cross in remembrance of our
baptism: upon entering the church by dipping our fingers in the
baptismal font, during the invocation or Benediction, or before or after
receiving communion. It is a tangible reminder of God’s faithfulness
throughout our lives. It is also a body prayer, an outward gesture that
can shape our inner spirituality.
Body Postures in the Liturgy:
The bodily postures and gestures of the liturgy express
the dignity of the body and the presence of God in the material:
bodies, earth, water, earth, oil, bread and wine. We pray not only with
words but with silence and with our bodies.
A biblical gesture for prayer is outstretched hands. It represents openness and trust. Worship leaders use this gesture. The assembly is invited, if comfortable, to use it during songs or prayers. We often hold hands with our pew neighbors during the Lord’s prayer.
We stand for singing, prayer, hearing the Gospel, and participating in the great thanksgiving at the Table. We sit to listen to the scripture readings and the sermon. We kneel for confession to represent humility and penitence. We bow as a sign of reverence: toward the table/altar as a symbol of Christ’s presence and as the cross passes, honoring the sign of baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection. Though Americans are often independent and self-sufficient, we learn from Asian Christians about the deep significance of a mutual bow toward one another.
Colors for the Church Year:
Colors play an important
part of the worship of the church. They change according to the seasons
of the Church year. Colors tell us much about what we believe about the
lessons we hear during the Liturgy of the Word (which are themed
according to the seasons), and about what we do during worship.
- Blue is the color for Advent and calls to mind the sky and hope.
It expresses the waiting and expectation of Advent, the season of
preparation for the festival of Christmas.
- White/Gold /
Silver, are used as colors of joy and festivity. They are used for all
festivals of Christ such as Christmas, Easter, and All Saints Day.
representing growth, is appointed for the seasons after Epiphany and
Pentecost when we focus on spiritual growth and the teachings of Jesus.
- Black, the color of ashes, is appointed for Ash Wednesday, the most somber day of the church year.
- Sackcloth / Purple reflect penitence and are used during Lent, the season of preparation for the festival of Easter.
is used during Holy Week to mark the final days of Lent in which we
meditate on Christ’s passion and death and for commemorations of saints
who were martyred for their faith.
- No color is used on Good Friday, as the worship space is bare and stripped of all color and furnishings.
/ Red, the color of fire and energy is used for Pentecost, celebrating
the giving of the Holy Spirit, ordinations and other festivals of the
Dress For Worship Leaders: Vestments -
Though the assembled congregation may not dress up for church as
they did in other times and places, worship leaders wear garb rooted in
tradition and common ecumenical use today. The basic white robe, called
an alb, is worn by the ministers, worship leaders and choir. The alb was
originally the everyday garb in the ancient Mediterranean world; it
represents the white robe of baptism. To live our baptism is to “put on
Christ” and despite our divisions and differences, we are one.
In addition to the alb, priests wear a stole, similar to a Jewish prayer-shawl. The stole recalls the “yoke of Christ” and signifies the priest’s role to announce forgiveness and to preside at the Sacraments. The deacons wear a stole over their left shoulder and across their body to symbolize their servanthood. The deacon wears a dalmatic over the stole. The dalmatic is a derivation of the Roman tunic. The presiding minister at the Eucharist wears a chasuble in the color of the season. Its full shape represents God’s embrace of the whole assembly. The original chasuble was like the traveling garment or “poncho” in the ancient world. The presiding minister or preacher may also wear a cope, which is a long cape in the color of the season and was primarily used as a processional garment in ancient times.
Incense has a long history in Christianity, Judaism
and other religions. It adds our noses to the multisensory experience of
worship. The psalmist expresses the symbolism of incense and prayer:
“Let my prayer rise like incense before you; the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.”
The clouds of incense represent cleansing and purification. The sweet smell suggests Christ's righteousness that covers sin. In some traditions incense is used to honor holy things and holy people (the assembly, that is, the body of Christ). The gospel book, the altar/table, the bread and wine, the ministers and the assembly may be “censed” as a way of showing their importance in the liturgy. Incense adds a festive accompaniment to processions, creating “holy clouds” and “holy smells” in the air.
The sweet smell of incense is a doorway to the holy in the same way that beautiful music, flowers and stained glass can lead us to ponder the mystery of God’s presence. Incense in worship is an ancient practice that connects us to the Church around the world and through the ages.
Stations of the Cross:
The Stations of the Cross have been part of Christian devotion during Lent and Holy week for many centuries. They originated when early Christians visited Jerusalem and wanted to literally follow in the footsteps in Jesus. Their current form allows people to engage actively with the path of suffering walked by Jesus, and the version St. Augustine’s uses connects the passion of Jesus to the suffering his mother Mary. The artistic representations of the fourteen Stations of the Cross are visited by worshippers every Friday during the season of Lent.