Episcopal Diocese of Virginia
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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

On this page: First time visitors | Worship | Children and Sunday School | Sharon Chapel


First time visitors

What can I expect when I visit All Saints - Sharon Chapel for the first time?

You should expect to be greeted warmly and made to feel welcome and at home. Ushers will hand you a bulletin for that day's service and will answer any questions you may have. At the end of the service the Priest will greet you as you leave. If you would like to stay for fellowship and conversation, please proceed to Gunnell Hall for coffee and refreshments.

Where are services held?

At the All Saints Episcopal Church - Sharon Chapel sanctuary, in Fairfax County:  3421 Franconia Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22310. Directions.

Do I need to be a member or must I be Episcopalian to attend worship services?

Worship services at All Saints - Sharon Chapel are open to all; anyone may attend and worship. Christians from many denominations attend regularly.

How much does it cost?

Contributions to the church are entirely voluntary. We pass a collection plate. Anyone may contribute as they wish.

What is the congregation like?

Diverse. Young and old. Of various ethnic, national, racial, and religious origins. Some are new to the Northern Virginia area, others are members of families that have worshiped at Sharon Chapel for generations.

What do people wear?

At a typical All Saints worship service you will see everything from tee-shirts and jeans to dresses and suits and ties. Many parishioners wear what could be described as "business casual" attire. There is no dress code; the only expectation is that people attending worship services are neat and clean.

Can I speak with someone before I come for the first time?

Please call the church office at 703-960-4808 and ask to speak to the Rector or Priest in charge.



What is a typical worship service like?

The central part of worship in the Episcopal Church is the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion. It is celebrated in a manner similar to most other Christian denominations. At All Saints, there are two Sunday morning worship services. At both services, you will hear readings from the Bible, a sermon, and prayers, as well as be able to receive Communion, if you wish. The 8:00 a.m. service is celebrated using Rite I, which uses very formal, traditional language. There is no music at this service. The 10:30 a.m. service is celebrated using Rite II, which follows the same format as Rite I, but uses contemporary language. We also have music at the 10:30 service. The weekly church bulletin will guide you to necessary sections of the BCP (Book of Common Prayer) and the hymnal for that day's service. Both books are found in the pews.

What is the Book of Common Prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer, or the Prayer Book, is what Episcopalians use in worship. Various editions of the Book of Common Prayer have been used by churches of the Anglican communion since the middle 1500s. It contains all of the various liturgies one might see used, including forms for daily prayers, baptisms, weddings, funerals, ordinations, the dedication of buildings, and for the Holy Eucharist. It also has directions for conducting services and the Book of Psalms. For Sunday services, we print a bulletin that tells exactly which pages and which prayers will be used.

How should I know when should I sit or stand?

If you follow along in the Prayer Book during a service, it will tell you exactly when you should sit, stand, or kneel (if you are able). Or you can just watch the people around you. Generally speaking, we sit for readings from the Bible and the sermon; stand to sing and for some prayers; and kneel for some prayers and to take Communion.

Can I take Communion?

All baptized Christians are invited to share Holy Communion at All Saints - Sharon Chapel, regardless of denomination. As we say, "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." However, if you are not Episcopalian, your own denomination may have instructions for you on this matter.

If I have not been baptized (or my child has not been baptized), can it be arranged?

If you want to be baptized, or want your children to be baptized, please speak with the Rector or Priest in charge. Persons may be baptized at any age. Baptism is normally celebrated as part of the regular service on four specific days during the Church year: the Easter Vigil, Pentecost, All Saints' Day (November 1) or the Sunday following it, and the first Sunday after the Epiphany (January 6).

What else is there besides the Sunday service?

Please see our Get Involved  and Events Calendar web pages. You might also want to look at the Church News.

What is the church year?

The Episcopal Church observes the same calendar as most Christian Churches, with the year divided into six seasons.

  • The first season is Advent, which begins on the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's Day, November 30. It lasts for four weeks, and is a time of preparation for Christmas.
  • Christmas begins on December 25 and lasts until January 6, which we call Epiphany.
  • The third season is Epiphany, which lasts from January 6 until Ash Wednesday. It can be anywhere from six to eight weeks long.
  • Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent. Lent is 40 days long, not including Sundays, and is also a time of preparation.
  • Easter lasts for 50 days, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Easter concludes with the feast of Pentecost.
  • The season following Pentecost (which is called "Ordinary Time" in some churches) lasts until Advent begins again.

How do I join the Episcopal Church?

Depending on your previous experience in the Christian faith, you may be eligible to be "received", or you may need to be "confirmed" into the Episcopal Church. Please speak to the Rector or Priest in charge about the process of being received or confirmed by the church. This process involves some instruction about the Episcopal Church and receiving the laying on of hands by a bishop. However, you do not need to be Episcopalian to attend services and take Communion.


Children and Sunday School

Can children take Communion?

All baptized Christians, regardless of age, are welcome to take Communion. Children can take communion at any age; the decision is left up to the parents and child regarding the appropriate age at which to begin. Additionally, parents may bring their children to the communion rail and indicate to the Priest to give the child a blessing instead of the actual Communion.

Can my young children stay with me in the sanctuary during the service?

Yes. Especially if you are visiting for the first time your children may be more comfortable staying with you during the service. Even if your children stay with you during the worship service, we hope you visit our nursery and Catechesis atrium. Once you and your child feel ready, we encourage you to make use of the nursery (for children under 3), or our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Sunday school classes (for children 3 through 12), or our teen Sunday school classes.

Do you have a nursery and Sunday school for children?

Yes. A professionally-staffed nursery for children under 3 is normally available during the 9:15 a.m. Sunday school classes and the 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship service. The nursery room contains a changing table that parents with infants may use. For children 3 through 12 there are Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Sunday school classes.

What is Catechesis of the Good Shepherd?

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is a Sunday school curriculum used all over the world to teach children about the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, as well as the traditions of the church and the Christian community.

What about classes for a teenager?

Sunday School for middle- and high-school students is currently divided into two discussion groups, one for boys and one for girls. They are led by adults and meet on Sunday mornings at 9:15 during the school year. In addition, there is also a co-ed youth group that meets regularly for small service projects, fellowship, and fun.

What about Sunday school for adults?

Christian education classes for adults meet on most Sundays mornings, from 9:15 until 10:15 (between the worship services).


Sharon Chapel

Can my fiancé (fiancée) and I get married at Sharon Chapel?

Due to the large number of requests from couples wishing to be married at All Saints, our policy is that only those who regularly worship and contribute to the life of the parish may be married here.

Where is All Saints - Sharon Chapel?

3421 Franconia Road, Alexandria, Virginia 22310 (Driving Directions)
Although the postal address says "Alexandria," All Saints Episcopal Church - Sharon Chapel is located in the Wilton Woods neighborhood of Fairfax County. The church building is located on the eastern stretch of Franconia Road (Route 644), about 1/3 mile west of its intersection with Telegraph Road (Route 611), where Franconia Road goes downhill toward the intersection. The church driveway is on the southern side of Franconia Road.

How long as All Saints - Sharon Chapel been there?

Since before Franconia Road was Franconia Road (it used to be Old Fairfax Road). Since before there was an entrance to the church property from Franconia Road (people once came to Sharon Chapel on Sharon Chapel Road, which still exists but no longer leads all the way to the church). Since before it was "All Saints." The history of All Saints - Sharon Chapel begins in 1848. People have been worshipping here for over 150 years (with just a few interruptions).

Is All Saints a church or a chapel?

All Saints is a full-fledged parish church in the Diocese of Virginia. The name reflects our history. For many years, we were known simply as Sharon Chapel, a mission of the Virginia Theological Seminary, with seminary students conducting the vast majority of services and no permanent rector or priest. When we became a parish in 1974, with a full-time rector, the name "All Saints" was chosen to go with the existing name. To find out more, see our history page.