See below for a handy list of frequently asked questions.
Christ Church gathers on Sundays at 8:00 AM and 10:15. The early service tends to be quieter, with no music, and draws a more traditional crowd. The later service has music and draws a large crowd, including many families with children.
Where do I go?
Christ Church is right in the middle of Alameda, at the corner of Santa Clara Avenue and Grand Street. The address is 1700 Santa Clara Avenue.
Parking can be a hassle. There’s a small lot behind the church. There’s also street parking all around.
You can also take the 51A bus, which stops just across the street.
How do I dress?
Wear whatever is comfortable to you. Some people wear a jacket and tie or a dress. Others wear shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Most people are somewhere in between.
How long are services?
The first service goes for 45-50 minutes. You can be back home by 9:00 am if you like. The second service goes from 60 to 75 minutes on account of the music and larger crowd. After each service we have a social hour with pretty good coffee and pastries. Often we host educational forums between the two services.
How does the service work?
Our church services have two big parts: Word and Table. The first part, the Liturgy of the Word includes readings from the Bible, a sermon, and prayers. After a short announcement time we move on to the Liturgy of the Table, when we bless bread and wine as Jesus did so often with his friends, and we share them together gathered around the altar. This is called communion or Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving, in Greek, because we’re fancy like that.) Our liturgy is based upon the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, which has been in use in various forms for nearly 500 years. We also add contemporary elements to keep things fresh. Music punctuates our 10:15 service while the 8:00 service is more contemplative.
What’s the deal with communion?
The altar is God’s table and everyone is welcome. Come to the communion rail and stand or kneel. To receive bread, cup your hands and extend them. To receive wine, help guide the chalice to you. If you prefer a blessing, come to the altar and cross your arms over your chest. Everyone, even young children, sinners, saints, church-goers, church-skeptics, theological perfectionists, those who find comfort in ambiguity, and the gluten-averse, is invited to communion. Feel free to assist your children.
In the Episcopal Church we see communion as a sacrament, a symbol and ritual through which we encounter God. As a sacrament, it’s open to varied interpretation. There’s no one right way to approach the mystery of God.
Gluten-free communion is available.
What are the sermons like?
You’ll have to be the judge of whether or not they’re any good. They usually go for 10-12 minutes. You can listen to some recent ones HERE.
What do Episcopalians believe?
Episcopal theology is a method. To answer questions we weigh input from three sources of authority: Scripture (the Bible), Tradition (what the church has taught through history), and Reason (our experiences out in the world). Because the third leg of this stool is subjective, Episcopalians span a range of beliefs. Hence the joke: Where two or three Episcopalians gather, there are four or five opinions.
Because our theology is a method, we’re not very doctrinal. We don’t keep a definitive list of beliefs on which we can look up the answer to things. The closest we get to that is the brief Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer.
Another way to approach this question is to come to church with us. We say that praying shapes believing, which means that common prayer –worship- is the heart of what we do. It expresses our values and beliefs.
Can I bring kids with me?
Of course! Children, youth and adults are welcome in church, in the nursery, in the Sunday school and at coffee hour.
In the church kids are welcome to sit with their parents. Our greeters can give them an activity bag if you like. There’s also a “pray ground” at the back of the church where kids can wiggle about, do crafts and play around a bit.
Our church nursery is open from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm on Sundays. If you’d like your child to return to the church for communion, please let the childcare staff know.
We have a youth lounge up in the old choir loft where kids from 6th-12th grade can hang out in their own space during the service.
On the first Sunday of each month all ages are in church to worship together.
We also have children’s and youth choirs that rehearse between services and perform regularly. Many youth also help out in the service as acolytes.
What’s the music like?
Most Sundays of the year our choir performs, accompanied by an organ or piano. Their offerings include traditional churchy music, ancient sacred music and more contemporary offerings.
Occasionally we supplement the choir with guest soloists, brass, strings, bells, or we replace the choir altogether with a Dixieland jazz band.
During the summer months our choir takes a hiatus so the congregation carries on with simpler hymns.
Can I just be a quiet visitor?
Yes. You’re more than welcome to lurk quietly to find a moment of peace in this crazy life.
Am I supposed to be a member?
We’re kind of loose on membership. We consider any person who shows up regularly at the church and who contributes some of their time or money or both to be a member.
What happens after church?
We have a social hour with pretty good coffee and good food. It takes place over in the parish hall with kids run around on our playground.
Do you practice what you preach?
We try to. Through our Social Justice Ministry Christ Church adopts 12 causes each year. We give the whole of our plate collection in church to these causes, we educate ourselves on the cause, and we look for volunteer service opportunities with these causes. Recent organizations we’ve supported include: Domestic violence awareness and education, the East Bay Community Law Center, Cease Fire Oakland, the Alameda Point Collaborative, programs that support foster youth and ex-convicts and a range of food security issues.
Additionally, our Welcoming ministry tries to spread the work that everyone is welcome to come to Christ Church just as they are. Our Pastoral Care ministry helps take care of folks inside and outside of the church in meeting spiritual, emotional and physical challenges. Our Parish Life ministry creates opportunities for new and old friends to bond and learn from each other. Adult Spiritual Formation helps pass on the great traditions of our church to adults, and our Children and Youth Ministry passes on that tradition and our values to our young people.
How can I get involved?
It takes an awful lot of people to do the work of the church –loving God and loving our neighbors. In the words of Friedrich Buechner, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Our hope is that we can help people figure out something that they’re good at and love to do, and apply it so some of the challenges of this world.
Christ Church’s various ministries offer dozens of chances to worship, pray, serve people who need a little help, teach and to gather with friends.
What does Episcopal mean?
It literally means “organized by bishops.” Before 1776 we were called the Anglican Church or the Church of England but that ran into serious marketing problems after the revolutionary war.
What is the meaning of life?
What if I have more questions?
Call our parish office at 510-523-7200. Our fabulous parish administrator, Pam, knows nearly everything. You can also call our priest, Stephen McHale, on his cell at 510-220-5663.