Looking for a church - How do I begin?

I’m interested in going to church but don’t know where to start.

Getting started with anything new is never easy. Anticipation of the unknown can be


  • You could… go to church with someone you know who does attend. Sit with them, ask questions, and maybe let them introduce you to some others in the congregation. You will find that people don’t bite. (Well, most of them.)
  • You could… go on your own. We recommend to not arrive too early, five minutes before the starting time is ok and make sure you sit near the back or on a side. Quick getaways are always a good plan!
  • We recommend…stop by the church during the week to walk around to become comfortable with the space, learn the worship schedule and find the bathrooms. St. James’ office is open Monday-Tuesday: 9am-3pm, Wednesday: 9am-5:30pm, Thursday 9am-12pm and anyone may walk in and look around.
  • We recommend… if you are comfortable, introduce yourself and let other’s know you are visiting. Ask questions. You will find people love to help and chat because they were where you are right now.
  • OR you could…. Join St. James’ worship online at facebook.com/StJamesSkaneateles
    to get a feel in the safety of your own home. St. James’ is committed to bringing worship to all who want to participate and many times, online is the best option.

Are children allowed in church?

YES.  Children of all ages are such a blessing.  St. James’ welcomes children at ALL worship services.  We love crying, laughing, playing, sleeping, whatever makes them happy.  There is a kid’s corner in the rear of the church with toys, books, and coloring sheets.  Many families use this space during worship and children form their own fellowship.  Children can also participate in communion. It is completely your choice as the parent. St. James’ Children’s Ministry is constantly growing-we now have 2 classes, Mini-Saints (3-6yr) and  Saints in Training (7-12yr) who participate in Sunday classes at 9am from September to May. Be sure to visit https://www.stjamesskan.org/sunday-school-saints-in-training/ for all the programs and resources for parents. If you want to speak to someone about the children’s ministry offerings, please contact Laura Posecznick at laura@stjamesskan.org.

Can I go to church if I don’t believe in God/skeptical/don’t know what I believe?

Of course! Whoever you are and wherever you are in your journey of faith, you are welcome at St. James’. And if you would like to dive deeper, feel free to contact the minister for a time to meet. If you are interested, visit our Core Beliefs to learn about the mission of St. James’ and our core beliefs.

What does it mean to be Episcopal?

As Episcopalians, we believe in and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, whose life, death, and resurrection saved the world. We believe that God loves you – no exceptions. The Episcopal Church embraces a legacy of inclusion, aspiring to tell and exemplify God’s love for every human being; people of all genders and sexual orientations serve as bishops, priests, and deacons in our church. Laypeople and clergy work together in leadership and governance. To learn more about the national Episcopal Church and the Central New York Diocese (group of Episcopal Churches) that St. James’ is a member of visit the links below .

What should I wear to church?

Clothes are good. Wear whatever clothing you feel you are comfortable in. You won’t like church much if your feet hurt from fancy shoes. At St. James’ during the summer there is Lakeside Worship at 10:45am so we do recommend casual and weather appropriate clothing.

How long is a church service?

Good question! St. James’ offers 3 Sunday Services: 7:30 am, 9am, and 10:45am. Each of these services include Eucharist or Communion so typically these last 1 hour or slightly over if there are many people. On Wednesdays at 12pm there is a 30 minute Healing Eucharist and at 6pm, St. James’ offers Evening Prayer. This is a shorter service focusing on a mid-week prayer focus that lasts about 35 minutes. From time to time during holidays, worship will go a bit longer.

I would like someone to pray for me or with me-what do I do?

Prayer is at the heart of St. James’. We try to meet you where you are-one-on-one, group, during worship, send in an email, and add to the ongoing list of people the church prays for each week. St. James’ has an extensive pastoral and prayer ministry. There is a team of Stephen Ministers & individuals all trained to listen without judgement and pray with you one-on one either once or for a few times. These are confidential meetings. Also at 9am & 10:45am Sunday worship, there are two stations where you can receive healing prayer or request prayer for someone else during communion. The Wednesday 6pm worship centers around asking for prayers and is a calming service allowing you to feel heard and join with others in prayer. Additionally, St. James’ has a prayer chain for immediate prayers requested. Do not hesitate to reach out for prayer.

Should I go forward for communion?

Yes, if you feel comfortable. At St. James’ all are welcome to come forward to receive communion. And even if you do not wish to partake in the eating of bread and wine, you are welcome to come and receive a prayer. To receive communion, you simply place your right hand palm up over your left. To receive a prayer, cross your arms across your chest. One of the best things about being in a church family, is that we share a “meal” each week together with Jesus. And like when you eat a big family meal at the holidays, you grow closer and feel the warmth of being a part of a loving community. If you have questions about communion (Eucharist), do not hesitate to ask any member of the clergy.

Does it cost money to go to church? Do I have to give money in the collection plate?

No, it doesn’t cost anything to come to church. You are loved for who you are not by the amount of money you give. Once you have found a church that you are comfortable with, it is always welcome to give of your time, talent and treasure as all come from God. St. James’ Church is no different from any other organization in the fact that it needs money for utilities, staff, and supplies to keep things running. Any amount of monetary gift is so appreciated no matter how small. If you would like to learn more about how to pledge or what is the best way for you to give back to St. James’, contact Nicole Bova in the Parish Office.

Can I go into a church anytime?

Unfortunately, due to vandalism and safety concerns, the church has open and closed hours. When the church is open-all are welcome to come in and tour. The Parish Office is open 9-3pm Monday-Thursday and Sunday worship services fall between 7:30-12:30pm. St. James’ is a vibrant and active church so there are many programs and events that happen within the building at all hours so it is open far more than it is closed. All we ask is that you enter the main entrance by the stone walkway unless it is for a worship service where the front red door will be open. Call the Parish Office anytime to be sure the church will be unlocked.

Do I have to sing?

No, you don’t have to sing if you do not feel comfortable. Many people wait until they have come to church a few times. There are screens at the front with the words to songs making it a bit easier than fumbling with the hymnal. However, the 9am worship service chooses most hymns from the blue hymnal located in each pew. The 10:45am worship is contemporary with the words on the screens and in the bulletin. Singing is a personal choice but always good to remember that you will not be judged on your vocal skills. Lifting our voices together as a group creates magical music and a sense of community like at a concert.

What is worship?

Churches are places where people of all walks of life gather. Some have a strong
belief in God, some are working at it, and some people simply need a loving
community join. Churches and worship show us that we are never alone and that our
lives are part of something greater than we can imagine. Many people feel they are
unworthy of love because of choices they have made in their life. The best part of
church is the belief is that God can forgive us what we’ve done wrong and help us
start out again on a new path in life.

For that reason people pray to God, give thanks to God and ask God to hear their
prayers and so on. Singing hymns and listening to a sermon or talk is part of this. All
of this is worship. At St. James’, there are four weekly worship services with 3 of them
live-streamed on Facebook to participate anywhere you have internet connection.

Wednesday at 6pm is an evening prayer brief service focused on prayers of healing
for us and our neighbor. Each Sunday, St. James’ offers 3 worship services. 7:30am
offers a spoken word service with a more formal old English style. 9:00am offers a
traditional worship with organ and choir music. And the 10:45am Sunday worship has a traditional liturgy with contemporary music from the Praise Band. Each worship will
have some form of reflection or sermon that hopefully makes you think as you go
about your normal life.

In fact worship doesn’t just end when we leave church. The hope is that every
moment of our lives becomes an act of worship as we live – or try to live – in the way
that Christians believe God wants us to. St. James’ offers many programs and
ministries to supplement the standard worship schedule. The purpose is for this
church to provide as many opportunities for people to enrich and deepen their faith
journey. For more information about worship, ministries, and programs, please tour
this website or contact the Parish Office.

Will people speak to me/welcome me even if I don’t know anyone?

They most definitely should or we should not be called the friendly church by the lake! There are greeters at each Sunday service who want to make your visit to St. James’ a positive one. The time of peace during each service, people greet each other whether you know the person or not with the peace of the Lord. This time can sometimes become quite a moment of fellowship. It is important to note however, the goal is not to bombard a new person. People join churches for all sorts of reasons including during a time of grief or loss. St. James’ parishioners will most certainly provide anyone space when they need it.

If I want to join a church how do I do this?

By finding one where you get a good welcome that isn’t smothering on the one hand
or cold on the other; where the worship feels sincere and appropriate; and where you
sense there is a good atmosphere.

Many people who want to join a church go to several first of all to ‘test’ each one. That
is especially useful if you’ve recently moved house or flat and are living in a new area.

At St. James’, it’s pretty simple. No entry fee, huge form or baptismal certificate required. There is a blue welcome card in each pew. To begin, we recommend you fill that out with your contact information and place in the offering plate or deliver it to the parish office. One of our staff or welcome team will make contact with you to see how we can help you feel more connected. Often we have small welcome coffees where new people can join clergy to learn more about each other and learn more about St. James’ and what it offers. For more information on joining St. James’, please contact the Parish Office.