What should I expect when I come to a Sunday Service?
This depends largely on which of our three weekend services you attend. While each service is different in length, size, and tenor, each offers:
- A welcoming spirit
- Holy Communion or Eucharist (to which everyone is invited)
- A devotion to Episcopal liturgy. (Liturgy is formal language for the format of the service.)
Dress at all three services ranges from formal to informal, but trends toward the casual.
Saturdays, 5:00 pm
Our 5:00 pm worship is the smallest and most intimate of our weekend services. Taking place in our warm and inviting chapel (accessible from the church’s Allen street entrance), the 5:00 pm service includes the standard elements of Episcopal liturgy – biblical readings, a sermon, time for prayer, and Holy Communion or Eucharist, but no formal music. The service is often complete by 5:45 pm – in time to dine out afterward and take in a concert, movie, or other event downtown.
Sundays, 8:00 am
Larger than our 5:00 pm service, but smaller than our 10:00 am worship time, the 8:00 am service (in the church) is a quieter and more spare time of worship. Organ music accompanies biblical readings, a sermon, time for prayer, and Holy Communion. The service is complete by 9:00 am so worshipers can attend educational offerings from 9:00 to 9:45 am.
Sundays, 10:00 am
Our largest worship service, the 10:00 am worship is an uplifting mix of the formal and informal. Our renowned organist and parish choir provide musical accompaniment for the entire service – which includes the familiar biblical readings, a sermon, time for prayer, and Holy Communion. Children join the service from their Sunday School classes in time to participate in Eucharist. This service usually lasts a little over an hour – less than half a Red Sox game and less than any feature film.
How does Holy Communion work?
The first thing to know is that everyone is invited to participate in the Eucharist: visitors, guests, kids – everyone. We believe that the altar is God’s Table, not St. Stephen’s, and that God is calling everyone to Communion.
The mechanics are simple – approach the altar rail where you are welcome to kneel or stand as you’re comfortable. The priest or deacon will offer you the bread or what is called the host. A member of the parish – called a Lay Eucharistic Minister or Chalice Bearer – will then offer you wine in a chalice. You may guide the chalice to your lips to sip the wine or dip the host in the chalice.
Those who do not wish to take wine may leave the altar rail after receiving the host or simply fold your arms over your heart to indicate your desire to abstain. Children are welcome to partake in Communion; feel free to assist them as necessary.
What do kids do before and during the service?
Sunday School for children ages 4 to 12 (6th grade) is offered at 9:30 am. Young people join the adults for the 10:00 am service, while children in Sunday School join the congregation for the service after the sermon.
Professional nursery care is available in a large, well-equipped room from 9:00 am to the conclusion of the 10:00 am service, though parents are welcome to have children of any age join them for any service.
Will I be asked to do anything?
No! We will not ask you to stand up before, during, or after the service. We will not ask you to identify yourself in any way if you don’t want to. Should you visit, you will be our guest, and we want you to feel comfortable.
If you need directions to Sunday School or want to meet any of the staff, we’ll be happy to help. But if you want to sit in the back row and check things out for a while, that’s OK too.
You should expect an invitation to our coffee/social hour after the 10:00 am service, but if you want to take a rain check, that’s OK too. (Do you sense a theme here?)
What other questions can we answer for you?
Poke around this Web site to get a better sense of who we are as a community of faith. Let us know what else we can share with you about St. Stephen’s to encourage you to visit us some weekend.
We’re looking forward to your visit!