What's Presbyterian worship like?

The order of a Sunday worship service in a Presbyterian church includes prayer, music, Bible readings and a sermon based upon the scripture. The Sacraments, a time of personal response/offering and a sharing of community concerns are also parts of worship. Prayer is at the heart of worship. In prayer, through the Holy Spirit, people seek after and are found by the one true God who has been revealed in Jesus Christ. Prayer may be spoken, sung, offered in silence, or enacted. Music is a response which engages the whole self in prayer. To lead the congregation in the singing of prayer is a primary role of the choir and other musicians. They also pray on behalf of the congregation with introits, responses, and other musical forms. The church confesses the Scriptures to be the Word of God written, witnessing to God's self-revelation. Where that Word is read and proclaimed, Jesus Christ the Living Word is present by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. For this reason the reading, hearing, preaching, and confessing of the Word are central to Christian worship. Use of the Common Lectionary at Olivet ensures a broad range of scripture readings as well as consistency and connection with the universal Church. The Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper are God's acts of sealing the promises of faith within the community of faith as the congregation worships. The Christian life is an offering of one's self to God. In worship the people are presented with the costly self-offering of Jesus Christ, are claimed and set free by him, and are led to respond by offering to him their lives, their particular gifts and abilities, and their material goods. Worship always offers opportunities to respond to Christ's call to become disciples by professing faith, by uniting with the church, and by taking up the mission of the people of God, as well as opportunities for disciples to renew the commitment of their lives to Jesus Christ and his mission in the world.

Music Style for Worship Services

Music for the early worship service each Sunday is led by a Music Team using more contemporary songs, hymns and music offerings. The instrumentation may include electric piano, guitar and percussion. Music for the second worship service on Sunday mornings is accompanied by the organ or piano. Invited musicians from the congregation and community offer special music offerings in this service each week. Music for the third worship service is led by the Chancel Choir, with organ or piano accompaniment and frequently includes invited musicians.

Worship at Olivet

Worship in the Olivet Sanctuary

The worship of God is at the heart of our lives as Christians. It is a fundamental element of our response to God’'s presence, love and promises in Jesus Christ. In worship, we offer praise, glory and honor to God our Maker, Sustainer and Redeemer. We also encounter God in worship and are transformed and renewed as God'’s children, blessed and strengthened in our new lives in Christ. We are empowered for God'’s service in the world as disciples of Christ and citizens of his Kingdom. Each Sunday Olivet offers three opportunities to gather in corporate worship: 8:30 am, 9:45 am and 11:00 am. During the summer month two services are held: 9:00 am and 11:00 am and Community Fellowship at 10:00 am.

Music Ministry Opportunities

Children, preschool through 5th grade, have several music opportunities throughout the year during Sunday School to prepare for the annual Christmas Pageant, mid-week ministry to prepare for worship, and Vacation Bible School. Youth, 6th - 12th grade, also enjoy music options which encompass worship offerings for Youth Sundays and additional worship services, sharing music from retreats and mission trips, leading music for Vacation Bible School, singing or playing with the Music Team or Chancel Choir, playing tone chimes, and Christmas caroling. Adults of all ages participate weekly with the Music Team and the Chancel Choir with additional opportunities that include vocal and instrumental ensembles, quartets, a men's ensemble, a tone chime choir, and select soloists.

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About Music Ministry at Olivet

Music and worship of God are have been interconnected since ancient times which predate even the earliest accounts of worship found in the Old Testament. The music offered was and is an act of worship, not just a part of worship. With this in mind Music Ministry at Olivet strives to offer frequent opportunities for congregational singing and for specially prepared music offerings both vocal and instrumental “soli Deo Gloria”, alone for the glory of God.

Worship Services on the Occasion of Death

The resurrection is a central doctrine of the Christian faith and shapes Christians' attitudes and responses to the event of death. Death brings loss, sorrow, and grief to all. In the face of death Christians affirm with tears and joy the hope of the gospel. Christians do not bear bereavement in isolation but are sustained by the power of the Spirit and the community of faith. The church offers a ministry of love and hope to all who grieve. Because it is difficult under emotional stress to plan wisely, we encourage members of the Olivet community to discuss and plan in advance the arrangements which will be necessary at the time of death. These plans should provide for arrangements which are simple, which bear witness to resurrection hope, and in which the Christian community is central. The service on the occasion of death ordinarily should be held in the sanctuary in order to join this service to the community's continuing life and witness to the resurrection. The service is under the direction of the pastor but others may be invited to participate as leaders in the service. This service may be observed on any day. The service begins with scriptural sentences. It is appropriate to include hymns which affirm God's power over death, a belief in the resurrection to life everlasting, and the assurance of the communion of the saints. Scripture shall be read; a sermon proclaimed; and Psalm 23 is typically used as a unison affirmation of faith . Aspects of the life of the one who has died are recalled and prayers of thanksgiving for their life are offered. Prayers are also offered giving thanks to God for life in Jesus Christ and the promise of the gospel, for the comfort of the Holy Spirit upon family members and loved ones who grieve, and for faith and grace for all who are present, concluding with the Lord's Prayer. The service ends by commending the one who has died to the care of the eternal God and sending the people forth with a benediction. This service may be observed before or after the committal of the body or cremated remains where members and friends of the family of the one who has died should gather at the graveside or crematorium for a service of farewell, which is to be conducted with simplicity, dignity, and brevity. This committal service includes readings from Scripture, prayers, words of committal, and a blessing, reflecting the reality of death, entrusting the one who has died to the care of God, and bearing witness to faith in the resurrection from the dead.

Wedding Services at Olivet


Members, as well as non-members, are welcome to hold their wedding service at Olivet, as long as it will be a service of Christian worship, officiated by a Christian minister registered to perform marriages in the Commonwealth of Virginia, accompanied by pre-marital counseling and conforming to the guidelines provided in this Wedding Handbook. In a service of Christian marriage, a lifelong commitment is made in the presence of God, publicly witnessed, and acknowledged by the community of faith. The service begins with scriptural sentences and a brief statement of purpose. The man and woman shall declare their intention to enter into Christian marriage, and shall exchange vows of love and faithfulness. The service includes appropriate passages of Scripture, a brief homily, prayers for the couple, and in the name of the Triune God, the minister declares that the couple are then joined in marriage. To schedule a wedding in the Olivet church Sanctuary, you will need to complete and return a reservation form that is available through the church office (434.295.1367). Customarily, the minister of Olivet will officiate at wedding services held at Olivet. However, permission may be given, and an invitation extended to a minister of your choosing. Pre-marital counseling is required of all couples desiring to be married at Olivet. In this way, the church can help you prepare not only for your wedding day, but for your life together in marriage, and the fulfillment of your marriage commitments to one another. Olivet will provide a liaison to assist you in planning for your wedding with regard to using the Olivet sanctuary and facilities. The seating capacity of the Sanctuary is approximately 175 people. Use of the Sanctuary includes rooms for dressing. Reception space in the Fellowship Hall is available upon request (See "Document" below for pdf version of Olivet's Wedding handbook)

Sacraments: Lord's Supper

Olivet and the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognize two sacraments which are understood to be outward visible signs of God's inward, invisible presence and grace. They are baptism and the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is the sign and seal of eating and drinking in communion with the crucified and risen Lord. In his last meal before his death, Jesus took and shared with his disciples the bread and wine, speaking of them as his body and blood, signs of the new covenant. He commended breaking bread and sharing a cup to remember and proclaim his death. On the day of his resurrection, the risen Jesus made himself known to his followers in the breaking of bread. He continued to show himself to believers, by blessing and breaking bread, by preparing, serving, and sharing common meals. The Church in the New Testament devoted itself to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to prayers, and to the common meal. The apostle Paul delivered to the Church the tradition he had received from the risen Lord, who commanded that his followers share the bread and cup as a remembrance and a showing forth of his death until he comes. The New Testament describes the meal as a participation in Christ and with one another in the expectation of the Kingdom and as a foretaste of the messianic banquet.

In the Lord's Supper the Church, gathered for worship,

  • blesses God for all that God has done through creation, redemption, and sanctification;
  • gives thanks that God is working in the world and in the Church in spite of human sin;
  • gratefully anticipates the fulfillment of the Kingdom Christ proclaimed, and offers itself in obedient service to God's reign.

At the Lord's Table, the Church is

  • renewed and empowered by the memory of Christ's life, death, resurrection, and promise to return;
  • sustained by Christ's pledge of undying love and continuing presence with God's people;
  • sealed in God's covenant of grace through partaking of Christ's self-offering.

In remembering, believers receive and trust the love of Christ present to them and to the world; they manifest the reality of the covenant of grace in reconciling and being reconciled; and they proclaim the power of Christ's reign for the renewal of the world in justice and in peace. As the people of God bless and thank God the Father and remember Jesus Christ the Son, they call upon the Holy Spirit

  • to lift them into Christ's presence;
  • to accept their offering of bread and wine;
  • to make breaking bread and sharing the cup a participation in the body and blood of Christ;
  • to bind them with Christ and with one another;
  • to unite them in communion with all the faithful in heaven and on earth;
  • to nourish them with Christ's body and blood that they may mature into the fullness of Christ;
  • to keep them faithful as Christ's body, representing Christ and doing God's work in the world.

Around the Table of the Lord, God's people are in communion with Christ and with all who belong to Christ. Reconciliation with Christ compels reconciliation with one another. All the baptized faithful are to be welcomed to the Table, and none shall be excluded because of race, sex, age, economic status, social class, handicapping condition, difference of culture or language, or any barrier created by human injustice. Coming to the Lord's Table the faithful are actively to seek reconciliation in every instance of conflict or division between them and their neighbors. Each time they gather at the Table the believing community

  • are united with the Church in every place, and the whole Church is present;
  • join with all the faithful in heaven and on earth in offering thanksgiving to the triune God;
  • renew the vows taken at Baptism; and they commit themselves afresh to love and serve God, one another, and their neighbors in the world.

In this meal the Church celebrates the joyful feast of the people of God, and anticipates the great banquet and marriage supper of the Lamb. Brought by the Holy Spirit into Christ's presence, the Church eagerly expects and prays for the day when Christ shall come in glory and God be all in all. Nourished by this hope, the Church rises from the Table and is sent by the power of the Holy Spirit to participate in God's mission to the world, to proclaim the gospel, to exercise compassion, to work for justice and peace until Christ' s Kingdom shall come at last. The invitation to the Lord's Supper is extended to all who have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order to be assured of God's love and grace in Christ Jesus. Baptized children who are being nurtured and instructed in the significance of the invitation to the Table and the meaning of their response are invited to receive the Lord' s Supper, recognizing that their understanding of participation will vary according to their maturity.

Sacraments: Baptism

Olivet and the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognize two sacraments which are understood to be outward visible signs of God's inward, invisible presence and grace. They are baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is the sign and seal of incorporation into Christ. Jesus the risen Lord assured his followers of his continuing presence and power and commissioned them

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember. I am with you always to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19).

In Baptism, we participate in Jesus' death and resurrection. We die to what separates us from God and are raised to newness of life in Christ. Baptism points us back to the grace of God expressed in Jesus Christ, who died for us and who was raised for us. Baptism points us forward to that same Christ who will fulfill God's purpose in God's promised future.

As circumcision was the sign and symbol of inclusion in God's grace and covenant with Israel, so Baptism is the sign and symbol of inclusion in God's grace and covenant with the Church. As an identifying mark, Baptism signifies:

  • the faithfulness of God
  • the washing away of sin
  • rebirth
  • putting on the fresh garment of Christ
  • being sealed by God's Spirit
  • adoption into the covenant family of the Church
  • resurrection and illumination in Christ

The body of Christ is one, and Baptism is the bond of unity in Christ. As they are united with Christ through faith, Baptism unites the people of God with each other and with the church of every time and place. Barriers of race, gender, status, and age are to be transcended. Barriers of nationality, history and practice are to be overcome. God's faithfulness, signified in Baptism, is constant and sure even when human faithfulness to God is not. Baptism is received only once. The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to the moment when it is administered, for Baptism signifies the beginning of life in Christ, not its completion. God's grace works steadily, calling to repentance and newness of life, God's faithfulness needs no renewal. Human faithfulness to God needs repeated renewal. Baptism calls for decision at every subsequent stage of life's way, both for those whose Baptism attends their profession of faith and for those who are nurtured from childhood within the family of faith. We believe that both believers and their children are included in God's covenant love. Children of believers are to be baptized without undue delay, but without undue haste. Baptism, whether administered to those who profess their faith or to those presented for Baptism as children, is one and the same Sacrament. The Baptism of children witnesses to the truth that God's love claims people before they are able to respond in faith. The Baptism of those who enter the covenant upon their own profession of faith witnesses to the truth that God's gift of grace calls for fulfillment in a response of faithfulness. As there is one body, there is one Baptism (Eph. 4:4-6). The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes all Baptisms with water in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit administered by other Christian churches. Baptism is authorized by the Session, administered by a minister of the Word and Sacrament, and accompanied by the reading and proclaiming of the Word in a service of public worship.

Children and Worship

Worship is at the heart of our faith and Christian life, and children are welcome and encouraged to be in worship at Olivet Presbyterian Church! Worship is God-centered praise and adoration. As we worship, we are also transformed and grow as followers of Jesus. Children need to be in worship just as much as adults. Bringing children into the Sanctuary is something like letting them eat with the rest of the family at the dinner table. Even though their manners are far from elegant, it's done because they are part of the family and over time, they will learn table manners as they practice them. Children giggle, they poke, and they swing their legs simply because they are children. But they also can sing, pray and give with the congregation. Their presence in worship grows out of the Biblical tradition and Presbyterian/Reformed theological conviction that children are members of the covenant community. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) speaks to the inclusion of children in worship. Children bring special gifts to worship and grow in their faith through their regular inclusion and participation in the worship of the congregation. (Book of Order W-3.l004) Children learn to worship by worshipping with the congregation Sunday after Sunday.

  • They learn they belong to Christ, and are welcome in Christ's church.
  • They come to know, through repetition, the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, the Doxology, and the beautiful hymns of our faith.
  • They build memories of shared experiences of Christian community that they may draw upon when they are older.
  • They are enriched by the beauty of music and art as creative expressions of praise and as human responses to God.
  • They hear stories from the Bible read and interpreted; and they begin to see Christian worship as one place where God may speak to them and be with them.
  • They witness the drama of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, both visible signs of God's grace, kindness and favor.
  • They discover that they are valued as a person by God and by God's people at church.

At Olivet baptized children who are being nurtured and instructed in the significance of the invitation to the Lord's Table and the meaning of their response are invited to receive the Lord' s Supper, recognizing that their understanding of participation will vary according to their maturity. Bringing your child to church may, at times, be a real exercise in patience. So are many other facets of parenting that we manage to get through. We must remember that baptized children are members of Christ's church, and they need to be among the people who worship God. They may not participate just the way adults do, but they are growing in understanding and learning to take their places in the church family. Proverbs 22 states that if we teach a child how to live, that experience will be remembered throughout life. Young children in worship may be wriggly and noisy, but it is their birthright as Christians to worship. Our satisfaction comes in later years when we see them stand in the midst of the church and go out into the world with a faith of their own. Jesus said to them, "Let the little children come to me, do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs." (Mark 10:14)

Options for Children in Worship

  • Quality child care is available in the nursery (Room 102), for infants and toddlers during worship.
  • "Children Worship Bulletins" are available from the ushers.
  • Children's Message - during the 11:00 a.m. service, the children are invited to come forward for a short message on the Bible reading for the day that is geared especially for them.
  • Worship Alive / Kid's Own Worship - children who are ages 5 through 3rd grade are invited to go out after the children's message for a short time of focusing on the scripture passage for the day in an age-appropriate manner. Parents are also welcome to keep their children in worship the entire time if they prefer.

Days (Colors) and Seasons of the Church Year

God has provided a rhythm of seasons which orders life and influences the church's worship. God's work of redemption in Jesus Christ offers the Church a central pattern for ordering worship in relationship to significant occasions in the life of Jesus and of the people of God. The Church thus has come to observe the following days and seasons:

  1. Advent, a season to recollect the hope of the coming of Christ, and to look forward to the Lord's coming again;
  2. Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Christ;
  3. Epiphany, a day for commemorating God's self-manifestation to all people;
  4. Lent, a season of spiritual discipline and preparation, beginning with Ash Wednesday, anticipating the celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ;
  5. Holy Week, a time of remembrance and proclamation of the atoning suffering and death of Jesus Christ;
  6. Easter, the day of the Lord's resurrection and the season of rejoicing which commemorates his ministry until his Ascension, and continues through
  7. the Day of Pentecost, the celebration of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.

The church also observes other days such as Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration of the Lord, Trinity Sunday, All Saints Day, and Christ the King. Ordinary days are represented by the color Green. Advent, Lent and most of Holy Week are represented by the color Purple. Pentecost is and local special days such as the 2013 Sanctuary Re-dedication are represented by the color Red. Christmas, Easter, and all other named days are represented by the color White.

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