The following reflections are from parishioners regarding their attraction to the Episcopal Church and experience at St. James'.
"I grew up in a different denomination, but always had questions regarding the punitive message that seemed to permeate every Sunday's service. As a result, I quit going to church when I finished college. It was not until I attended an Episcopal service that I felt like my spiritual needs were met. Why? I loved the reverence and the formality of the service. The theology answered questions I had wrestled with for years. And I learned that it is truly okay, and encouraged, to ask tough questions! Additionally, Eucharist nourishes my soul. I love the Episcopal faith! The Nicene Creed answers who we are very concisely."
"I grew up attending a church in a different denomination. It was the church of my grandparents and my parents in Texarkana, Arkansas. In junior high school I attended a private Episcopal school, also in Texarkana. As I grew older, I realized that the theology of the two denominations is identical. However, I came to appreciate the reverence and formality of the Episcopal denomination. When I was 32 years old, I made the change. I will always be thankful for my upbringing in the other church, but I am a very happy communicant in the Episcopal Church."
"I was raised in a hell-fire and brimstone church that had no denominational affiliation. It seemed fine to me but I often found myself (even at fifteen years old) disagreeing with some things. Then a friend and fellow musician asked me to go to his church --I had visited other churches with friends and found them okay or odd or downright scary --so I went with him to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in El Dorado.
As soon as I walked through those doors, I felt a peace and sense of reverence bathe me from head to toe. It was quiet! People were on their knees! They weren't buzzing like a swarm of bees before the priest and choir processed. They were praying, reflecting, or smiling and quietly nodding to acknowledge one another. The order of the service baffled me at first but quickly someone sitting nearby noticed my confusion, scooted over by me, and helped me through the service sheet, The Book of Common Prayer, and hymnal.
In my experience the Episcopal Church is the most welcoming and nonjudgmental church. Anytime I hear someone say they're looking for a church or they're tired of the gossip and narrow-mindedness of this or that church, I invite them to visit mine!"
"What makes the Episcopal Church different is our type of worship experience, characterized by dignity and reverence --in particular, our custom of maintaining silence upon entering the church, kneeling for silent prayer, and then sitting for meditation until the service begins.
Episcopal church music also stands out as more aesthetically pleasing than what may be experienced in the services of other denominations. Episcopalians enjoy the centuries-old musical tradition of the Church of England, with our canticles and many wonderful hymns, some of which are unique to the Episcopal hymnal.
In addition to the appealing aspects of Episcopal Church worship in general, St. James' stands out as a friendly, cohesive congregation. Because we are few in number, we usually notice newcomers and invite them to visit with us over coffee after the service. And for someone who wants to get involved, there are always plenty of opportunities for lay participation in worship and other activities at St. James'."