Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Information

Our regular worship services are Sundays at 8, 10:30 & noon (Spanish), Wed at 6 pm, Thurs at 2 pm (St Luke’s Nursing Center), Fri at 10 am and Sat at 5 pm. During the school year, we also have a short, child-centered worship service at 9 am, followed by Sunday school.

Yes—9-1:30 on Sunday and 5:30-8:15 pm Wed (school year only). The nursery is located on the west side of the building, in the area closest to the red doors into the nave, and is staffed by two trained, background checked nursery workers. All parents receive a buzzer to alert them of any issues their child might be having, which is your “receipt” to pick your child up later.

During the school year, we offer Sunday school at 9:30, and Wed youth groups for 3 year olds-High School at 7:15 pm. Our acolyte program allows youth ages 3rd grade through High School to assist in worship leadership every Sunday at 10:30. Summer programs for youth are organized at a diocesan level.

Sunday mornings starting at 9:30 we have an adult forum, which tends to be topical, often including extended Bible study.

Weekday offerings include Bible studies 2nd Tues at 6 pm in Carl Junction, every other Tues at 6:30 for women, each Wed 7-8:15 pm, and Thurs at 11 am.

The entrance from the parking lot is ramped, as is the entrance from the parish house into the Church proper. We have a fully accessible restroom near the nursery. Sunday services are amplified. Large print editions of the Book of Common Prayer are available on request.

You are welcomed to join us in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper if you have been baptized in any denomination in any amount of water at any age. In The Episcopal Church, we come forward to the altar rail to receive the Sacrament: follow the lead of the people in the pew ahead of you. We are a common cup, “real” wine tradition. Gluten free wafers are available at the section of the rail behind the pulpit.

During the school year, we offer Sunday school at 9:30, and Wed youth groups for 3 year olds-High School at 7:15 pm. Our acolyte program allows youth ages 3rd grade through High School to assist in worship leadership every Sunday at 10:30. Summer programs for youth are organized at a diocesan level.

You will see the gamut of clothing at Grace. “Casual Friday” wear is the most common—slacks, polo shirts, skirt sets, sundresses. “Sunday best” suits and dresses are common, as are shorts and jeans (in summer). Sundays are generally more “formal” than weekday services. What matters is that your dress doesn’t interfere with someone else’s prayers. If your tee-shirt slogan or stunning physique is attracting more attention than God, consider different attire.

There are three kinds of ordained ministers in the Episcopal Church. Bishops (“Right Reverend Sir” in writing, “Bishop Field” in speech) are charged with worldwide pastoral and teaching functions as well as being in charge of congregations in particular regions (“dioceses”). Our Bishop, the Right Rev. Martin Field resides in Kansas City and visits Carthage once a year or so.

Priests, also called presbyters (a biblical word meaning “elder”) are in charge of the sacramental life of a congregation. We have three priests, The Rev. Steven Wilson, our rector (“senior pastor”), The Rev. Joe Pierjok, and the Rev. Jose Palma, our Hispanic missioner. Most people use some variant on “Father” for our priests—Father Steve, Padre Palma. Just first names, however, are fine, or you can be very formal and call us Mr. Wilson and Senor Palma.

Finally, deacons are ordained ministers who work in the world but specialize in social ministry outside the congregation. Our deacon is the Rev. Jeff Bell. “Deacon Jeff” is the most typical form of address.

For a mid-sized congregation, Grace Church is astonishingly active. St. Luke’s Nursing Center is an Episcopal institution. We deliver meals on wheels for the Over 60 Center five weeks each year, and we support two mission schools in Haiti. A Spanish speaking congregation meets weekly.  Narcotics Anonymous meets weekly in our building. An AARP recognized caregiver support group weeks monthly, as does a marriage support group. Those are just a few examples of how we serve our neighbors: call the office to schedule a conversation with clergy to learn about more!

Marriage

First, to your fiancee… Generally speaking, only members or members of parish families are wed at Grace Church. Any member of our clergy may perform a wedding. Contact the office at 417-358-4631 to speak about your wedding. Since marriage only takes place after some sessions of pre-marital counseling with the clergy (3-6, depending on specific needs), we recommend calling no less than 6 months ahead of your planned day.

Yes, with the permission of the Bishop after counseling with the Rector. In Missouri, no such marriage can take place within the first 6 months of the final decree of divorce by the court.

No. A donation to the congregation and the officiating clergyman’s discretionary fund (“audited but anonymous good works account”) is appreciated. We suggest $100 for each. In addition, it is customary to give an honorarium to musicians, usually in the same amount.

It is a religious service – and that means only music of a vaguely religious nature (no “pop songs” until the reception). Photographers should be neither seen nor heard once the words begin. Wedding planners are lovely for your reception, but the service itself is laid out in the Book of Common Prayer: after 500 years of practice, it really doesn’t require help. You may write your own vows, but they will be the “second set” after the traditional vows “to have and to hold” which are taken by all persons married in this Church. Oh, and you can’t throw rice in the city of Carthage.

Baptism

Since baptism is the beginning and not the end of a faith journey, we ask that baptismal candidates be regular participants in worship, either here or at another congregation (which usually applies to people whose “home town” is Carthage).  Simply call the office, 417-358-4631, to begin the conversation.

At any age. For very young infants, we encourage warmer weather. Adults are encouraged to join in group baptisms on major feast days, such as Easter Eve.

As long as you are old enough for safe submersion baptism, we encourage it. However, our historic marble font isn’t large enough to submerge anyone over about 8 days of age. The YMCA or a local creek (in warm weather) can be scheduled with a bit of advance conversation. On occasion, we’ve even brought in stock troughs and filled them up for immersion in the Church.

Pastoral Concerns

Try the office during the day (358-4631). Our clergy are also available at their home numbers, which are published in the phone book, for emergencies any time day or night. Or for Fr. Wilson rector@gracecarthage1869.org, for Fr. Pierjok associaterector@gracecarthage1869.org.

Of course. Please fill in the form in your pew and include your name and telephone number, or call us, or email your request. After one month without further information, we remove people from the prayer list—please keep us apprised of progress! Or you can send your request to prayerlist@gracecarthage1869.org.

Contact our parish nurse, Barbara Mountjoy RN, who is in the office Wed-Fri at the parish. Home health care, basic health information, or concerns about preventative care are some areas in which she has special expertise. Examples might include assistance in making choices about care for elderly family members, conversations about confusing medical instructions, or basic health care matters like your dietary and exercise regimen. parishnurse@gracecarthage1869.org.

The Episcopal Church

We have yearly classes (“Inquirer’s Classes”) at 9:15 on Sundays for a few weeks before our bishop’s visitation. Please take a look at our fuller discussion on the page “A beginner’s guide to the Episcopal Church.”

Take “Pepsi Cola” and shake it up…

Those words are a bit 19th century. Basically, our worship is rather traditional and we use incense on major occasions, so we’re more High Church than anything else. But we hope that the substance of our worship, and not the style, is what sticks with you.

Anything worth doing is worth describing in biblical Greek or medieval Latin….Don’t worry about vocabulary. Should something seem impossible to grasp (like “sanctuary,” which means “the part of the Church building nearest the altar” rather than “the part of the building where we sit during the sermon,” or “canon” which means “that part of the communion service that starts after the peace, or any song which goes round and round, or the list of books you’ll find in the Bible, or a brand of photocopier we don’t own, or a church bylaw, or a senior clergyperson typically employed or honored by the Bishop with some fancy extra words in her title”) we have handy vocabulary sheets available. No tests are taken, however…