What to Expect


Jesus said: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” – Matthew 10:40

As the cathedral church for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington), Saint Mark’s seeks to be a place where all people encounter the living God and the reconciling Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wherever you are on your journey of faith, even if you have never been to church before … you are welcome at Saint Mark’s.

What Can I Expect at Saint Mark’s Cathedral?

How long are the services?

The 9 AM and 11 AM services at Saint Mark’s last a little more than 1 hour. Other services may run shorter.

Should I bring my Bible?

Just bring yourself. Everything you need, including Scripture readings, is in the service leaflet, which the ushers will give you. View a sample service leaflet.

What should I wear?

You will find people dressed very casually (jeans, shorts, t-shirts, etc.), more formally and a great variety in between. Just be yourself. You will fit in.

Where should I sit?

Saint Mark’s has four pew sections and bench seating along the side walls. Sit wherever you are comfortable. Make yourself at home. By the north wall (to the right) there is a rug where small children are welcome to sprawl out and explore the “children’s bag” available from the ushers. Parents can sit on the benches nearby.

Where should I park?

We have a large parking lot next to the church. Parking is also available in the neighborhood.

Can I bring my children to church services? 

Children are welcome and active participants in all Saint Mark’s liturgies. Activity bags for younger children are available at the back of the church and there is an area for quiet play on the colorful carpets along the north walls of the Cathedral. We offer a wide variety of programs for children and youth on Sunday mornings. Our Child Care Center also welcomes children ages 3 months through 5 years between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday mornings while their parents are participating in Cathedral activites on campus. Our nursery is equipped and staffed for the safety and care of younger children. Please ask an usher for directions to the Center.

Nursing mothers who would like some privacy are welcome to use Thomsen Chapel during the services. Audio from the services may be heard. Please check with an usher for access.

Can my children receive communion?

Children are welcome to receive communion at their parents’ discretion. If you would like for your child to learn more about the sacrament before receiving, please contact Kelly Moody.


What are services like at Saint Mark’s?

We are a liturgical church. “Liturgy” means “The work of the people.” Our work in worship has three parts:

The liturgy of the Word: four readings from Scripture (Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament and Gospel) and a short sermon, 10-15 minutes. Following the sermon, we recite the ancient Nicene Creed and say a prayer of confession and receive pardon for our sins.

The Prayers of the People: we pray for the concerns of each other, our community and the world. After the prayers, we greet each other in God’s name. This is called passing the peace. Just turn to your neighbor and say something like “The peace of God be with you” or simply, “Peace.” After announcements a collection is taken. You are free to contribute or not as you wish. Either way is OK.

The Liturgy of the Table: Holy Communion is the high point of the Episcopal service. It is also called the Eucharist or Great Thanksgiving. You are welcome to come forward to receive communion, which consists of bread and wine. Just hold out your hands for the bread and take a sip from the cup, or if you don’t wish to receive, cross your hands on your chest to receive a blessing from the priest. Or if you prefer, you can remain in your seat during this part of the service. Do what is comfortable for you.

Music is a major ministry at Saint Mark’s. Hymns begin and end the service, and the choirs and musicians offer music at various points throughout.

Services end with the dismissal at which we are sent on our way in peace to love and serve God in our lives.

But mainly, just relax and enjoy. You will love the music—the language of the spirit. The service leaflet will give you everything you need to participate in the service and enjoy it.


More questions? Fill out our Contact Form. We’d love to speak with you! We are pleased to welcome you to Saint Mark’s. We are richer for your presence.