Miss Pious’ Guide to Good Behavior in Church

Miss Pious’ Guide to Good Behavior in Church

“Heavens no, my dear! … Children learn by example you know.”



I was pleased to discover the following gem amidst papers from a long ago EDFEST conference, what was once an annual education event held at Episcopal Divinity School sponsored by the Episcopal dioceses of New England. The original author has been tracked down as the Rev. Gigi O’Conner, Vicar of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, New York.

Miss Pious’s Guide to Incredibly Good Behavior in Church

Miss Pious, a member of St. Swithins on the Swamp, is an incredibly good church member. She always removes her lipstick with her hankie before her lips touch the chalice!

Dear Miss Pious:
I attended church last week and I left feeling frazzled instead of renewed. Children were present, and while I don’t begrude the little darlings their opportunity to worship, I do mind all the noise they make. What can be done about this??   -Gentle Parishioner

Dear Gentle Parishioner:
Miss Pious is delighted you brought this to her attention. Miss Pious believes there are certain “church manners” which out to be religiously (pardon her humor) observed. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Sunday morning before the service starts and after the service ends are wonderful times to greet friends or welcome new faces. It is rude to talk during the Prelude, the Sermon, the Anthem, the Prayers of the People, or any other time during the service.

2. Passing the Peace is just that – a time to wish God’s Peace to others – not a time for a recipe exchange.

3. It is perfectly appropriate for children to visit the bookrack while canticles or hymns are being sung. It is also appropriate for children to quietly ask questions or to point out beautiful things in the church. Children should be encouraged to sit on a kneeler, or, on occasion, stand in the pew, to get a better view. Reading a book or coloring is a wonderful activity for young people in worship. Children will respond at the times they feel included or when they know part of the liturgy.

* * *

Dear Miss Pious:
Should we instruct our children in all of the above?   -Gentle Parishioner

Dear Gentle Parishioner:
Heavens no, my dear! Only number 3 specifically applies to children. I was talking about adults. Children learn by example you know.


Elizabeth Ring is a lifelong Episcopalian and student of theology. She recently retired from 26 years on the staff of the Diocese of Maine where she was part of the team that developed their Diocesan Resource Center and served as consultant to congregations around program and leadership development for lifelong learning.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Liz Lynn Perraud

    Love this!! And will be sharing…I wonder why I can’t share from the facebook page? I’ll go directly to the website.

  2. Nanci Henchcliffe

    I would suggest that she get a copy of Helen Barron’s Come To The Table. It’s a wonderful introduction to children in church and good for both past parents and parents.

  3. Debbi Rodahaffer

    The “Miss Pious” author has been tracked down. She is the Rev. Gigi Connor – a vicar of a parish in CT.

  4. Sharon Pearson

    The post can be attributed to the Rev. Gigi O’Conner, Vicar of St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, New York.

  5. Sharon Ely Pearson

    You are correct! I found out after I had teed this up for posting live.

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