Traditionally in England, parishes were seen as geographical units which were served by a particular priest composed of people who lived in that area. The building, the people, the minister were a unit, with the church building serving as a center of worship and as a public space. If you lived in an area, you were part of that parish. You see this still in Louisiana, where counties are referred to as parishes.
Now folks aren’t defined by the Church or geography. You can attend church wherever you want, or not. You can move across the country for kicks or better economic opportunities. The relationship of the church buildings to their neighborhoods, when church members come from all around, is an often unasked question. When congregations fail to look outside their doors to their neighborhoods, they miss vital opportunities for mission and service.
One of the ways St. Stephen’s has reached outside its doors and into the broader geographical area is through our ministry to children. Since our inception as a parish in 1929, we have always served the children of Houston—first with a Sunday School, then with a pre-school, and since the 1980s with a comprehensive school for children from 15 months to 18 years of age. Spiritual formation as the nurturing of respect, peace, inquiry, and wonder has always been at the heart of this ministry.
Throughout the Great Fifty Days of Easter, St. Stephen’s Church will be showcasing the amazing ministry of new life we offer through our day school. You will be hearing stories from parishioners, students, teachers, board members, and the Head of School sharing the amazing ministry we are doing together on this campus seven days a week. My hope is that you will come to realize the resurrection joy which is spread daily on our campus where Christ is risen every day!