If this is your first time visiting the Grahamstown Cathedral we welcome you. We offer this brief description of what you may expect on your first visit to the Grahamstown Cathedral.
There is ample street parking around Church Square, in the High Street and in Hill Street. As is common in Grahamstown and much of the rest of South Africa, there are freelance car guards on duty. Parishioners and visitors are encouraged to make a donation to the car guard for watching their cars while they are worshipping, as a guide, R5.00 would be a suitable donation
As you enter the Cathedral, you will likely notice an atmosphere of serenity and reverence. Most Anglicans try not to talk to one another in church before a service, but instead to use this time for personal meditation and devotions. You may notice that some worshippers bow or curtsy to the altar on entering and leaving the church as an act of reverence for Christ.
Children are welcome at all Cathedral worship services. We have noticed that young children are most likely to follow the actions of the service if they sit up front where they can see.
The seating at the Grahamstown Cathedral is not reserved (except for the two churchwardens' pews) and there is always room for visitors. An usher or sidesperson will give you a printed order of service that will list page numbers in the prayer book (blue Anglican Prayer Book 1988 or red South African Prayer Book, 1952) and the various hymn books which we use.
We customarily stand for the Gospel and face the reader (usually a deacon, whose privilege it is to read the Gospel lesson). The Gospel will ususally be read from a point midway down the centre nave aisle. We sit to hear the other lessons, sermon, and announcements, stand to sing, and kneel or stand to pray. We stand and link hands to receive and give the peace. After the minister has given the peace the members of the congregation greet those around them with a handshake and the words, "Peace be with you". Members of the congregation will be glad to help you follow along, and you may stand, sit, and kneel with the congregation, as you feel comfortable.
Any Christian who has been baptized and who is a communicant member of their own church is welcome to participate in receiving Holy Communion regardless of age. If you wish to receive communion, our practise is to kneel at the altar rail with one hand laid on the other, palm upwards. A priest will place a wafer of bread on your palm, you may then transfer it to your mouth. Another minister will then offer the cup of wine for you to take a sip of. Some communicants prefer the method of intinction. Visitors who are not baptized Christians are warmly invited to the altar rail to receive a blessing. If you choose to come to the altar rail for a blessing, our custom is to kneel at the rail with your arms crossed across your chest to indicate to the eucharistic ministers that you will not be taking the bread or the wine but do wish to have a blessing. You may choose not to come forward for a blessing, in which case you can remain seated, and that is completely fine.
You will notice that the clergy and lay people serving at the altar wear special garments (known as vestments) to signify their different ministries of service. The congregation's dress is quite diverse, with people dressed in everything from blue jeans to business suits. We encourage you to wear what's comfortable for you!
When you visit the Grahamstown Cathedral, you will be our respected and welcome guest. You will neither be singled out in an embarrassing way, asked to stand before the congregation, nor to come forward, however the presiding minister may ask visitors to introduce themselves to the congregation from their places in the pew just before we share the peace of our Lord with each other. If you don't feel comfortable with this you are under no pressure to do so.