Growing into Mission: Three Services Begin this Week

The nature of the Church as an institution is changing rapidly as you can see if you read any newspaper.  From Kim Davis’ jailing in Rowan County, Kentucky to Pope Francis’ declaration that marriage annulments should be free and timely, what it means to be a Christian person in community is shifting.  How are we to respond to these forces in our life of common prayer?  This is an essential question that has been floating through the prayer of leaders in our parish.  

We have been listening to the needs of adolescents in our congregation, watching the continued squeeze at our 10:30 Eucharist as folks try to find places to sit, and contemplating the impact on our staff and budget of expanding our worship offerings.  Additionally, we have been taking our Bishop’s invitation to seriously consider what it means to be a missional community to heart.  The germ of our response is our new Sunday Eucharist schedule, along with a decision to utilize prayers from our neighbors in the Anglican Communion to shape our own. 

Beginning this Sunday, September 13, St. Stephen’s will be offering Eucharist at 7:45 a.m., 8:30 a.m., and 10:30 a.m.  The 7:45 a.m. Eucharist will be spoken, contemplative, include a sermon, and will invite everyone to play a liturgical role; it will last 30 minutes.  The 8:30 a.m. Eucharist will engage our rich Episcopal tradition using the Book of Common Prayer, service music, and a choir which will provide support for congregational singing and anthems from our Anglican heritage during the offertory and communion.  Finally, we will prepare ourselves for missional outreach by using globally sourced prayers and music from around the Anglican Communion at the 10:30 a.m. Eucharist.  It is tempting for Christians in the United States to consider ourselves the center of the universe—we can easily collapse nationalism and our faith.  To counter this risk, St. Stephen’s will be grounding our prayers intentionally with a global perspective.  Thus our 10:30 service will utilize the American Book of Common Prayer, along with authorized liturgies and prayers from other parts of the world wide Anglican Communion.  We are embarking on this schedule as an experiment; if it doesn’t build up we will know and we will change.

You will be invited throughout the fall to consider what it means to be a neighbor. The prayers of the people in every liturgy will be taken from the prayer books of our sister Anglican churches around the globe.  We will be asked to consider our role as neighbors in service, stewardship, formation, and mission.  Our hope is that our prayer grounds that discernment.

I look forward to sharing with you in this time of discovery.