Small Groups, Classes and Bible Study
SMALL GROUPS AT ST. STEPHEN'S
Christians have a two-fold path to follow: we are to be disciples of Christ as well as be apostles. Disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus, literally a pupil or student. In Christianity this originally referred to those who followed and learned from Jesus of Nazareth during his earthly ministry. Apostle comes from the Greek work apostolos – one who is sent out. In Christianity, apostles were those early believers who, while they might not have met Jesus in his lifetime, were converted to the Way of Jesus and went out spreading the Good News.
Rather than being one or the other, we are called to be both and we hope that classes and study groups at St. Stephen’s will help participants on both dimensions of their spiritual life. We offer year-round classes and groups in some areas, while others will meet for a covenant period (10 weeks) and disband. Some groups require a sign-up and commitment to participate for the life of the group (e.g. Disciple, DOCC, and EfM) and others are drop-in groups that welcome you whenever you can participate (e.g. centering prayer, contemplative prayer, prayer shawl knitters).
If you have questions about small groups at St. Stephen's, please contact Gene LeCouteur.
Information about wellness classes such as yoga and meditation can be found here. Information on Emmaus Groups is here.
Year-round may mean 12 months a year, or the months of the academic year. Check with the convener or leader of your group.
The Tuesday Morning Contemplative Prayer Group offers participants an opportunity for experiencing silent practice in community. We meet from 8:45-10:15 every Tuesday morning for a 30-minute silent sitting meditation, then an optional seven-minute silent walking meditation, and group dialogue rooted in the silence we’ve experienced together. During the dialogue inner listening is supported and encouraged. Folks come and go during the meeting time as their schedules allow. This is an open group, open to all, and you do not need to register or let anyone know if you’re coming. The group sends a weekly email and you are welcome to join that list. If you have any questions about the group, please feel free to email Millie Cain.
EPIC Moms, 9:30 a.m., second and fourth Tuesdays of the month
EPIC Moms (Episcopal Parishes in Community to support Moms) is a new gathering for mothers of children from infancy to elementary school. This program is sponsored by Episcopal churches but open to all mothers regardless of religious tradition. Get to know other women across Richmond, share the joys and challenges of parenting, and hear and discuss speakers on topics such as early literacy, spirituality with children, and meditation for kids and mothers.
Education for Ministry, 6:30 p.m., led by Richard Clary
Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 80,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together. Email Richard Clary for additional information about joining this group.
Prayer Shawl Knitters, 6:30-8 p.m.
Knitters gather for prayer, fellowship, conversation and knitting shawls which will be blessed and distributed to those who are ill or who would otherwise benefit from a loving reminder of their inclusion in St. Stephen’s community. If you don’t know how to knit, come learn!
Dream Group, 9:30-11:30 a.m., first Saturday of the month, led by Wilda Ferguson | Register here
Dream groups are composed of individuals who believe God speaks to us through our dreams. The message is presented in the language of metaphors. In a dream group, a dreamer will volunteer to share a dream and group members contemplate what the message could be for themselves, in light of their life experience.
The dream group session provides a brief presentation/discussion of a relevant topic such as techniques to help one remember dreams. There is a time of silence and a time for members, if they desire, to share what has been feeding their soul. Then members are invited to share a dream for discussion. The session ends with a prayer. A dream group is not a therapy group; however, it is not unusual for the dreamer and other members of the group to gain meaningful insights.
Wilda Ferguson, certified as a dream group leader through the Haden Institute, facilitates the dream group at St. Stephen’s Church.
There will be an introductory session Saturday, September 12, 9:30-11:30 a.m.; anyone may attend this session, where you can learn more about how to enrich your faith journey through dream work. We will share basic information, answer questions and work a dream, using the process taught at the Haden Institute. This process allows all to benefit from the dreamer’s dream but does not allow the group to slip into therapy.
Although there is no cost to participate, and you do not need to be a member of St. Stephen’s to join the group, registration is required to assure that the group is able to maintain continuity and confidentiality.
Second Saturdays Centering Prayer, 9-11 a.m.
Centering Prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God.
You may come for any portion of the morning your schedule allows. Someone from Contemplative Outreach of Richmond is on hand to provide guidance for those who desire it. The group meets in Room 14 on the top floor of the parish house.
This group is forming in order to needlepoint pew kneelers to be used after we move back into our newly-refurbished church. Experienced needlepointers will be needed to being this extensive, long-term project, though new stitchers will be invited to join and learn from the veterans. Please contact Penny Nash in the parish office to volunteer and to learn more about when and where the group will meet.
Mothers Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Mothers gather in the Library for Bible study and fellowship. Child care is available if requested in advance. Please contact Tara Matthews for additional details.
Thursday Bible Study, 10:30 a.m., led by Gene LeCouteur
Each week this group discusses topics or books of the Bible through in-depth reading of Scripture. We often relate what we read to the world around us, personal experience, as well as our hopes for the coming Kingdom of God. Recent studies have included the Book of Genesis, the Gospel of John, and women in the Bible. No registration is necessary. Drop-ins are welcome. Taste and see what we are doing.
Greek Bible Study, 4 p.m., led by Stuart Settle | Register here
Learn to read the Scriptures in Greek. No previous study of Greek required.
Weekly Bible Study email
Inquirers Class led by Weston Mathews | 10:10-11 a.m., January 27 - March 13
Any adult who might wish to be confirmed or formally received into the Episcopal Church should attend these classes (our bishop will be here in May to confirm and receive), but many long-time Episcopalians like to attend as a kind of refresher, or as a way to sort through some of the questions of faith that are common to many of us. In preparation for this class, we encourage you to read two very short books as an introduction to the Episcopal way: The Liturgy Explained by James W. Farwell and A People Called Episcopalians: A Brief Introduction to Our Way of Life by John H. Westerhoff and Sharon Ely Pearson. These books are both very short, and we have copies for you to pick up at the first class meeting or in the church office ahead of time. You are welcome to borrow the books and return them, or you may purchase them for $10 (total, for both books). If you’re interested in participating, please contact Weston Mathews or Janet Allen in the church office.
Book Club, 10:30 a.m. - noon, beginning January 7, led by Wilda Ferguson | Register here
This monthly book group selects books to read and discuss based on group interest. The books will have relevant faith components and may indeed challenge us in our faith. The group will begin with a discussion of Harper Lee’s recently published book, Go Set a Watchman.
COMING IN THE SPRING COVENANT PERIOD
In the Face of Difference led by Aleta Richards
This group will discuss Bill Sachs's new book by the same title.
Registration for this and other spring offerings will begin in March.
See our Wellness Ministries page for information on yoga, chi kung, meditation, mindfulness, movement, and spiritual direction.
For information about our small groups that connect people through prayer, mutual care and support, spiritual reflection and service, see the Emmaus Groups page.
The Rev. Gene LeCouteur