Visitor’s Guide

NOTE: We currently have one 9:30 am service.

What to expect Sunday mornings at St. Stephen’s

With occasional exceptions, our Sunday morning service includes communion, with distribution of bread and wine. (Gluten-free wafers are available.) You can stay in the pew if you don’t wish to receive the bread and wine or you can come forward and ask for a blessing. If you would like the bread and wine brought to you in your seat, please let an usher know.

Children are always welcome in church. There will be activity packs when you come in for the young children to take to the pews. Our experience is that it’s best for those with young children to sit close to the front, so they can better observe what’s going on and feel part of the service. There is a nursery for young children with toys, but it is currently not staffed. Feel free to use this room as needed during the service, but make sure you accompany and stay with them.

Dress tends to be less formal than it used to be for church. Please be both comfortable and respectful of yourself and others.

The Sunday bulletin has announcements, the scripture readings, and an order of service, a sort of “road map.” The service is keyed to the Book of Common Prayer (red), the Hymnal 1982 (blue), and also Lift Every Voice and Sing (red and black with music from the African-American and gospel tradition). Take a bulletin from an usher or take one from a table in the back of the church. The hymnals and prayer books are in the pews.

Restrooms are also behind the doors at the back of the church.

Communion is distributed at the front of the church at the altar rail, where you can kneel or stand. If you don’t want the elements, cross your arms in front of you to receive a blessing. Once a month the priest will offer brief healing prayers and optional laying on of hands and anointing with oil in the library immediately after the service. This option will be announced. While we will be happy to offer sessions about receiving holy communion for the first time for children, in the Episcopal Church the decision as to when is the appropriate age is left to the discretion of the parent or guardian. If you child is not yet receiving communion, please accompany him or her to the altar rail and the priest will offer a blessing.

We are currently using traditional small round wafers for the bread. Gluten free wafers are available; just request one when the priest comes to you. The offering plate can be found at the back of the church. First time visitors may want to fill out a “visitor’s card” and place it in the plate as their offering. That’s entirely optional.

The Service

During September-June, our choir will accompany the congregation in the singing of hymns. These hymn numbers are listed on the hymn boards on the wall of the church. There is usually a choir anthem, and there is music (most often organ) before and after the service. Music is an opportunity to give glory to God and also to center ourselves in preparation for the prayers, readings, sacrament, and blessing and in gratitude for the gift of being together with sisters and brothers in Christ.

During the school year there is usually a short children’s sermon following the invitation, “Will the children please come forward.” Kids can come forward at that time if they wish to do so and sit on the carpet. Feel free to come up with your child if that would make him/her more comfortable. When Church School is in session, it will be announced. Children go out for a Church School lesson and activity right after the kid’s sermon escorted by their teacher/assistant and return in time for communion. We would be delighted to have your children participate.

Usually there is a “coffee hour” after the service back in the parish hall. It’s easy to find Begley Hall past the doors at the back of the church and down a short hallway. We would love to have you join us and have the opportunity to get to know you. Kids are welcome at the coffee hour, too.

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