Sing to God a New Song

“May all lands be joyful before you, O God, serve you with gladness and come before your presence with a song.”

—Psalm 100

Many people sing in the shower, while we’re vacuuming or cooking, as we’re taking care of a score of daily tasks. We sing alone in the house or the car. Nobody can hear or see us and sometimes we truly let rip. As soon as other people are present, we think that we are being judged in some way on our performance. This often affects how we sing and can sometimes be a big obstacle to allowing others to hear our song.

Personally, I don’t like singing on my own. The reason I sing is to enjoy the harmonies, so I need other people. I sing because I love the relationship between different notes being sung at the same time. I love the way that group singing creates something which is greater than the individuals involved. Have you ever thought about joining the St. Thomas Choir? I’d love to talk with you about it. I’d love to talk with you about it.

—John Marks, Director of Music, 443-939-2062

Organist and Music Director John Martin Marks










New to St. Thomas' Parish?

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Are you considering a visit to our parish, or have you recently worshiped with us for the first time? We hope that your visit will ultimately lead to a greater relationship with St. Thomas’—one in which we can share a journey that is intent on deepening our relationships with God and one another.

We are a welcoming and diverse congregation that strives to provide generous hospitality to everyone. We consider it our mission to share a vision of progressive Christianity with our neighbors in D.C. and around the world.

What to Expect When You Visit St. Thomas’

St. Thomas’ is a flourishing community where people enjoy tasteful liturgy, exquisite music, warm fellowship, opportunities for spiritual growth, and activities to serve our neighbors. We are also known as a spiritual home for travelers looking to rest and rejoice in the unconditional love God has for us in Christ.

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Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. The principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.

Episcopalians worship in many different styles, ranging from very formal, ancient, and multi-sensory rites with lots of singing, music, fancy clothes (called vestments), and incense, to informal services with more varied and contemporary music. Yet all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer, which gives worship a familiar feel, no matter where you go.

All Are Welcome

All are welcome to receive communion at St. Thomas’ Parish. Those who do not desire to receiving communion are invited to come forward during the Communion to receive a blessing from the presider.

At the end of the Eucharist, the congregation prays once more in thanksgiving, and then is dismissed to continue the life of service to God and to the World.

Liturgy and Ritual

Worship in the Episcopal Church is said to be liturgical, meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to worshipers and serves as a framework within which much variety actually is cultivated.

For the first-time visitor, the liturgy may be exhilarating or confusing. Services may involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for some. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the basic steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.

The Holy Eucharist

In spite of the diversity of worship styles in the Episcopal Church, Holy Eucharist always has the same components and the same shape.

The Liturgy of the Word

We begin by praising God through song and prayer, and then we listen to as many as four readings from the Bible: usually one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and (always) a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation.

Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached. Rector Nancy Lee Jose is the primary preacher, and guest preachers often include Bishop in Residence Gene Robinson, other Episcopal priests from the area, or one of several designated lay preachers from within the parish.

The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s ongoing statement of what we believe.

Next, the congregation prays together for the Church, the World, and those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for those who have died. The presider (e.g. priest, bishop, or lay minister) concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession.

In certain seasons of the Church year, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.

The congregation then greets one another with a sign of peace.

The Liturgy of the Table

Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers. Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the presider tells the story of our faith, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from God, and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the presider tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him.

The presider blesses the bread and wine, and the congregation recites the Lord’s Prayer. Finally, the presider breaks the bread and offers it to the congregation, as the gifts of God for the People of God.

The congregation then shares the consecrated bread and the wine. Sometimes the people all come forward to receive the bread and wine; sometimes they pass the elements around in other ways.

We hope that you will join us for worship soon, whether for the first time or for a return visit. We look forward to worshiping with you, having the opportunity to get to know you, and for you to get to know St. Thomas’ a little better.

Being a Christian Community


What does it mean to “be the church” today? For us at St. Thomas’ Parish, a progressive Episcopal Church at Dupont Circle, we believe it simply means being a community that is constantly learning to put into practice the two basic teachings of Jesus: ▪ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. ▪ Love your neighbor as yourself. We try to live out these two “Great Commandments” through:

  • Being a community of worship and formation: We practice a rhythm of worship that includes Word (prayer, scripture, preaching) and Sacrament (Baptism and Holy Communion). We are committed to the education and formation of people of all ages who want to learn more about how to live as Christians today.
  • Being a community of reconciliation: The radical hospitality of God that invites all to the table for Holy Communion also draws us toward personal wholeness and integrity. Likewise God draws together, or reconciles, what is broken and binds us into a community of respect, care, and love for one another.
  • Being a community of justice: Loving God also means loving our neighbors as ourselves by serving—our parish, our neighborhood, our community, and the world around us. It means being committed to justice for all of God’s creation. “Being the Church” means practicing discipleship by following the example and teachings of Jesus. “Being the church” also means learning how to tell others of what we have discovered and how it may change their lives and change our world: sharing the good news or gospel, while at the same time respecting and learning about the faith traditions and beliefs of others. “Being the church” varies from congregation to congregation, despite the fact that all of us are on the same journey together with a common goal, learning to be all that God has created us to be, and with a common need: forgiveness and reconciliation when we falter along the way. We invite you to join us at St. Thomas’ Parish as part of this Christian community as we learn to live with love for God and for one another.

—Nancy Lee Jose, Rector

Becoming a Member

[one_half]Membership at St. Thomas’ Parish is open to all baptized Christians. Whether you were baptized in the Episcopal Church or in another Christian denomination, you may become a member.

What If I Have Never Been Baptized or Confirmed?

No matter where you may be in your own spiritual journey, we welcome you to worship with us at St. Thomas’ and gather with us at God’s table. You do not need to be a member in order to participate in our community of faith. But we do encourage you to explore and learn more by attending one of our Newcomers luncheons and some of our Education and Formation events. If you like what you find there, we happily invite you to consider our Inquirer’s Class series, which is offered twice a year. These two steps will help you determine if you would like to be baptized or confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Those who complete the Inquirer’s series of classes and choose to take the next step are then baptized and/or confirmed at a festive service at Washington National Cathedral.

What Is Expected of a Member?

In 2014, the Inclusion/Welcoming Newcomers Commission for St. Thomas’ adopted the following “Covenant of Membership” statement. Reading it may help you discern how you would like to be involved in our parish:

Membership Covenant

Becoming a member of a spiritual community is an act of faith. We draw closer to God through faithfulness to the spirit, teachings and actions of Jesus, in relationship to one another, and in participation in the sacraments of the church. We are the hands, feet and heart of Jesus in the world. Becoming a member of a spiritual community is also a process—a spiritual journey over time. Being recognized as a member of St. Thomas’ is a part of the process, a step on the journey.

As you consider joining St. Thomas’ Parish, as members and leaders we commit to you:

  • Engaging worship grounded in our sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments of the Episcopal tradition.
  • Resources for your spiritual journey and encouragement through the joys and pains of life.
  • Opportunities for relationships, community, and spiritual growth in a variety of settings.
  • Spiritual practices that enable us to strive to love one another as Christ loves us.
  • Assistance in the discovery of your own spiritual gifts and opportunities to use them in the church and beyond.
  • Encouragement of generosity through good stewardship of your financial gifts.
  • Our pledge to reach out with you to the larger community in faithfulness to Christ.

In response to God’s grace, we ask that you, as a member of this community, commit to:

  • Joining us in worship faithfully and regularly.
  • Sharing in the hospitality and welcome we offer to all who worship with us.
  • Seeking out relationships and spiritual community in the parish.
  • Including the people and ministries of St. Thomas’ in your prayers.
  • Exploring and exercising your personal gifts and talents for ministry.
  • Financially supporting the church’s ministry as part of an overall life of generosity.
  • Exploring over time whether or not to be received or confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

As you consider this important decision, please know that we welcome you and support you with our fondest prayers.

Nancy Lee Jose,Rector
Becky Zartman, Asst. Rector
Adam Graham, Minister of Music

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Bishop Mariann Budde receiving new members during her visitation to our parish.