Church Etiquette

The customs of conduct and behaviour in a church of God.

Motion to include Church Etiquette Guidelines in the Diocesan rules, for parishes and Baruti/Clergy.

Noting that we are citizens of a free and democratic society; and that people have rights as stipulated in Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa (Bill of Rights); we also acknowledge we are citizens of the kingdom of heaven. In both realms, rights go hand in hand with responsibilities. We acknowledge that, as worshipping communities, we have responsibilities to one another and to God. In places of worship we seek God’s love, mercy and salvation; we strive to be good and to do good, because our God is a holy God and St Peter reminds us that we too are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation  (1 Peter 2: 9).

The church is perhaps one of the last social institutions where dignity, protocol, respect and reverence are maintained. We propose the following guidelines as a reminder to us all that Christian communities foreshadow the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth, and in our worship on earth we join with the worship of heaven. We create sacred spaces by our attentiveness to what is proper and ordered and we have the opportunity to reflect the image of Christ within us by our actions.

Our proposal does not intend to judge or demean the people of God, but to encourage one another to reflect seriously on St Paul’s instruction that all should be done decently and in order” (1 Cor.14:40). Our primary purpose in coming to church is to pray and worship God, and, as the proposers of this motion, our intention is to promote that purpose.

WE RESPECTFULLY request this Synod to consider the following guidelines for the Diocese of Christ the King:

1.            When we come to church we are coming to worship almighty God, and we should avoid any form of dress that will distract ourselves and others from that work. Provocative dress code, such as short skirts, short pants, body building vests tight-fitting and transparent clothes, etc. should be avoided. Male worshipers should remove their hats when entering the Church.

2.            Church premises should be gun free zones. Whilst the South African firearm regulation act, stipulates that the right to possess firearms is not guaranteed, it imposes a general ban on possession of firearms except in limited circumstances. Any public domain should be treated as gun free zone, and this includes our churches and their related premises.

3.            In order that our whole attention be given to God, Cell Phones should be switched off during church services. If you have a valid reason to carry your cell phone for emergencies, please keep it on silent and sit near an exit.

4.            Undue Noise and Strong language disrespects the church as the place of reverence and worship. Loud and idle conversations should be avoided before and during the service. Swearing is unacceptable and we should always use the language that honours God.  

5.            Whenever it is likely that people will want to use photographic equipment during a service, especially on occasions such as weddings, baptisms, confirmation, ordinations etc. the President of the service needs to be informed in good time and should, together with the wardens, advise the congregation what is proper and practical. Flash photography should not be used during the consecration, or during the distribution of the elements of communion.

6.            St Paul wrote “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God (1 Cor.6:19).  According to the “Tobacco production control amendment 2000”, smoking is prohibited in public places such as restaurants pubs, shopping centres, offices, and churches”. We should uphold this on our church premises. Likewise, we should ban the use of illicit, non-medical drugs.

Since alcohol is the third and largest contributor to crime, death and unsafe sexual behaviour, the church has a moral obligation to discourage or moderate its use within church premises.

The use of tobacco products and non-medical drugs should be banned on church premises, and moderation be exercised in the use of alcohol.

7.             Food, beverages, and chewing gum, (with the exception of water) should be avoided during the service. We should try to keep the church premises free of litter at all times. (Cleanliness is next to Godliness)

8.            It is often said that children are the church of tomorrow. However, just as your children and grandchildren are your family today, so are the children in our congregations the Church of today.

Jesus said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19: 14). Many parishes have cry rooms or nurseries or Sunday school rooms. But it is imperative to include children in the main service, whenever possible. The provision of bible story books, paper and pencils, and quiet toys enables parents and those caring for the children to help the children behave appropriately during the service. But it is never appropriate to allow children to run down the aisle, play loudly, during the service. 

9.            Avoid using lipstick when coming for communion as it is hard to remove from purificator’s. Alternatively, dip consecrated bread into the chalice.

10.       In a church with diverse cultures and in an age when we are more conscious of the gender connotations of titles, to address an ordained minister by their Christian name or as ‘Father’ is uncomfortable to many. We would therefore encourage the people of God to address an ordained ministers as MORUTI, as title is not gender specific.

The Anglican Church is the Church of order, worshipping the God of order, and therefore let us practice our faith in an orderly manner.


Proposed:    Moruti Thabo Katsana

Seconded:    Moruti Maureen Simons