St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 21, 2014
There's a place for you here.
Worship services at St. Stephen's
Worship is one of the ways in which human beings open themselves to sacred mystery. Our hope is that the experience of God in worship—through Scripture readings, prayers, silence, music, sacrament, and relationship—increases our awareness of God’s action in our daily lives. All worship is done in communion—in communion with the worldwide church and with the communion of saints through the ages. In our worship, we transcend the divisions of the world and the values of rushing, striving, achieving and accumulating, in order to enter more fully into the Divine Life in which all human beings are sisters and brothers, beloved of God.
This parish church also seeks to help people learn how to pray. Through Second Saturdays Centering Prayer, weekday Morning Prayer, the contemplative 5:30 service on Sundays, Wednesday Evening Prayer and Choral Evensong on the first and second Thursdays of each month; as well as through workshops, retreats with the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist  both here and at the monastery in Cambridge, guest speakers and small group experiences, we seek to nurture habits of the heart that further each unique soul in his or her spiritual journey.
Sunday morning services
Our 8 a.m. service is a traditional Prayer Book liturgy, without music. At 9:00, two services happen simultaneously – one in the large, Gothic church, and the other in the smaller brick chapel known as "Palmer Hall." The service in Palmer Hall involves conversational instruction about the worship experience in a more intimate space. The service in the large church is intended to be equally welcoming, without conversational instruction, and the setting feels to some more transcendent. Both of these services have important roles for children, and people of all ages are most welcome at any of our five services.
The service at 11:15 a.m. alternates between Holy Eucharist (first and third Sundays) and Morning Prayer (second and fourth Sundays), and includes a choir and congregational singing.
At the 10 a.m. service in the summer, children are invited into the chancel during the Great Thanksgiving--the part of the service when the celebrant asks God to consecrate the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ--to see what is happening "up close." The children are led into the chancel by a person carrying a small cross, immediately after the Offertory. They return to their seats in time to take Communion with their families.
Sunday evening Celtic service | WATCH
At 5:30 p.m., we offer a service of Celtic Evensong with Holy Communion. Our Celtic worship is drawn from the liturgical traditions of Iona and Northumbria in Scotland, and the music at these services can be contemplative, lively and haunting. The prayers are at once earthy, holy and inclusive. This service has been well received not only by St. Stephen's parishioners and other Episcopalians from the area, but by those from other religious traditions, including those with little or no religious background. All are welcome at this service.
Regardless of which service(s) you may choose to attend, please know that all are welcome to receive Communion. In the pew rack there are instructions about receiving the bread and wine, but please do not worry about "doing it right." (You can read these guidelines on our Web site, too.) The important thing is simply that you know that God welcomes you, and there is no telling how God might reach you in Communion. Just be open.
From the ancient monastic practice of ending the day in prayer and praise of God, a new weekly Compline service is held every Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. This stunningly beautiful candlelit service features a newly formed group of singers, "Sanctuary," offering Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. 
All are welcome at this service, and we encourage you to make yourself comfortable when attending it-perhaps even lie down in a pew and enjoy the beautiful sounds and stillness. Listen to a recording of part of this service here. You can also watch a short video about the service below. Contact Janet Allen for more information. 
The Daily Office
In addition to our Sunday worship offerings, we pray the Daily Office of Morning Prayer at 8:10 a.m., Monday through Friday, in the Holy Spirit Chapel. Praying the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer has long been considered by many to form the basis of Anglican spirituality. In the sixteenth century, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, set the pattern of prayer we now observe, when he reduced the eight daily monastic services of prayer to two and put them in a book to be used by clergy and laity alike. Morning Prayer is also known as “Matins,” and Evening Prayer is also known as “Vespers.” The Offices are recited daily throughout the world, and our praying them has the effect of immersing ourselves in the Holy Scriptures and joining our voices in the world-wide community of Christians who set aside and consecrate set times of the day for prayer.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, we offer Choral Evensong in the church at 5:30 p.m. The Virginia Girls Choir leads this service, which lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Metro Richmond at Prayer: St. Stephen's is a participant in Metro Richmond at Prayer. See this week's prayer intention.