Frequently asked questions:
What to Expect at An Episcopal Church
The Episcopal Church strives to live by the message of Christ, in which there are no outcasts and all are welcome. Walking a middle way between Roman Catholicism and Protestant traditions, we are a sacramental worship-oriented church that promotes thoughtful debate about what God is calling us to do and be, as followers of Christ. For more information about worship at Episcopal churches, please click here.
What to Expect at St. Stephen's
As you enter through the red doors common to Episcopal churches across America, our Ushers will welcome you and provide you with a service bulletin. Inside the first page of the bulletin are some helpful notes to help you navigate your Sunday visit.
Prior to service beginning, the clergy, crucifer, acolytes, and sometimes, choir members gather at the back of the church in anticipation of preliminary announcements and the opening hymn. You will notice that people sit, stand and kneel at different times in the service. Feel free to join in or not, as you desire or are able.
Sunday worship is a gathering in community in a welcoming environment to listen to God's Holy Word in Scripture and in Sermon, to break bread, and to draw closer to God and to each other through prayer and music. Being well fed through our worship, we then go into the world to live the life God calls us to live daily: to seek Christ in all persons, caring especially for society's outcasts.
What to Expect at Communion
We gather at an open table. At the heart of things, our life centers on our worship of God. At the Eucharist, we make a consistent and risky invitation: all who come to us, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, can receive the sacramental bread and wine with us. We see the gifts on the altar as God's gifts to us, not our possessions. Ancient tradition teaches that the Eucharist is the meal for baptized church members. We simply say that there is more than one path to baptism and membership, and sometimes that begins in a holy and unrehearsed moment in actual worship.
How to Receive Communion
To receive communion, the Ushers will invite you to come forward to the Altar and take the next available place. You may receive the communion bread from the Priest in open hands. Our communion bread is gluten-free. You may then take the bread to your mouth, or, if you wish to receive by intinction (dipping), place the communion bread between the thumb and index finger of your right hand and hold the bread over your open left palm. This signals the Chalice Bearer to allow you to intinct the wafer into the wine. You may also choose to receive the wine directly from the chalice by gently guiding it to your lips as the Chalice Bearer presents it to you.
If you choose not to receive the wine, simply cross your arms across your chest after you have received the bread or the wafer. The Sacrament is effectual even when only one of the forms is received. Please return to your pew as soon as the next person has received the wine. Children are welcome to receive both the bread and the wine.
If it is physically difficult for you to come to the Altar, please indicate this to an Usher and the Priest will bring Communion to you where you are seated.
If you, or your child(ren), would like to receive a blessing from a Priest at the Altar, come forward just as you would to receive Communion and cross your arms across your chest, and/or instruct your child(ren) to do the same.
St. Stephens is located in the Montrose area of Houston. Parking lot entrances are on the west side of the church on Alabama and on the south side of the church on Woodhead.
St. Stephen's provides free nursery care each Sunday from 8:30 a.m.until noon for children under 3 years of age. Parents usually drop off their children before the service and sometimes pick them up before communion. However, the children can stay at the nursery any time during its normal hours. Parents are always welcome to visit or stay with their children in the nursery as well.
Our nursery has a special emphasis on making it an inviting and safe environment. We are pleased to have loving and experienced caregivers in charge of our nursery every Sunday. It is located just down the hall from the Nave (across from the Rector's office).
We have Sunday School for children and youth at 9:15 a.m. on Sundays during the school year. During the summer months all formation offerings are on a sabbatical.
Family-friendly Worship Service
Children are welcome at all services at St. Stephen's at any time. We also know that an hour long service may be too much for young children. We invite young children age six and younger to join us in Children's Chapel during the 10:30 a.m. service.
Children and their families gather as usual for worship during the 10:30 a.m. worship service. After the Collect (prayer), the children gather around the Children's Cross in the front of the church and process to the Children's Chapel. They return at the passing of the Peace to join their families for Eucharist. In essence, our young children are engaged in the same liturgy as the adults with a reading from Holy Scripture, a reflection on the reading, songs of praise, and prayers. This is true worship on a child's level.
We are an eclectic bunch. From shorts to jackets and ties, you will see it all. That we come is more important to God and us, than what you wear.
Joining St. Stephen's
Whether you're new or have been visiting for a while, if you've decided you want to declare yourself an official member of St. Stephen's, we're ready to welcome you. If you are a confirmed Episcopalian, you may request a Canonical Letter of Transfer from your former parish. Please call the church office and we will send the request on your behalf. If you are not yet a Christian, you need to be prepared to be baptized. Contact the clergy for conversation and instruction. If you are not an Episcopalian and wish to become one, you must be confirmed in the Episcopal Church. Contact the church office for additional information.