How We Worship

St. Stephen Episcopal Church
St. Stephen stained glass window At the heart of Episcopal worship is the Eucharist. The word "Eucharist" comes from a Greek word that means thanksgiving, and our services are celebrations of God's goodness and love. Our regular Sunday morning Eucharist includes hymns, prayers, scripture readings, a sermon, and holy communion.

We practice open communion. Because we believe that God loves everyone unconditionally, anyone who wants to receive communion is invited to come and share in the consecrated bread and wine (we also have grape juice and gluten-free bread available for those who need them). You don't have to be an Episcopalian to share in communion with us. You're welcome to receive communion if you are divorced and remarried, or a member of the LGBTQ community, or still trying to figure out exactly what you believe. Jesus loved and ate with people that the religious leaders of his time excluded. We believe that when we celebrate communion, Jesus is present with us, welcoming everyone to the table, loving us all, uniting us as one family, and teaching us to love each other.

The structure of our Sunday morning worship comes from The Book of Common Prayer (the Expansive Language version approved at the 79th General Convention) and from Enriching Our Worship. We adapt our services to reflect the seasons of the church year and choose Eucharistic prayers appropriate to each season. Our congregation includes people who love the more traditional language of the BCP as well as people who value the more contemporary and inclusive imagery used in EOW, and we honor the needs of both groups. The variety of our language reflects our conviction that although God is revealed to us through scripture, tradition, reason, and experience, God is ultimately beyond our imagining, and all of our images are insufficient to describe the Holy Mystery who created us, loves us, and journeys with us.

Musically we rely on The Hymnal 1982 and Gather. For practical reasons we typically include the whole service in bulletin format to avoid the book juggling that often occurs in Episcopal churches. Printing the entire service also enables us to use the expansive language of the BCP Great Thanksgiving as approved by General Convention in 2017.

At the end of each service we are sent out to love and serve others in Christ's name. We believe that we don't just worship God in church. In our Baptismal Covenant we promise that, with God's help, we will live out our love for God in the world by loving our neighbors as ourselves and by seeking and serving Christ in every human being. Our members worship God through a variety of lay ministries such as feeding hungry people at free community meals, volunteering as teachers at Job Corps, serving children as CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates), working with people with mental illness and their families. They also worship God by the love for others that they practice in the ordinary activities of their daily lives, as they work or spend time with family and friends.

In addition to our Sunday morning Eucharists, we also offer an intimate weekday Eucharist at noon each Wednesday, Centering Prayer at St. Stephen on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m., and special services as appropriate to the seasons of the church year.