Frequently Asked Questions
Is this a Catholic Church?
Based on the decoration of our building and our style of worshipping, many people mistake Saint Stephen’s for a Roman Catholic church. We are not, though we purposely embrace those aspects of our Catholic heritage that were common to the undivided western Church before the Protestant Reformations.
How do Episcopalians differ from Roman Catholics?
While we share a great deal in common with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, there are also some significant differences. The basic order and words of our services are essentially the same, yet with subtle differences, especially in the prayers around the Bread & Wine of the Eucharist. Most visibly, Episcopal priests can be men or women; celibate, single, or married; gay or straight. In contrast with Rome, the Episcopal Church also performs marriages for same-sex couples.
Why do you call your service a Mass?
Most Episcopalians use the term Eucharist or Holy Communion. As Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians, we use the term Mass as way of connecting to our Catholic heritage. The term “Mass” itself comes from the dismissal at the end of the service, “Ite missa est” … Go, the mass is ended.
Are children welcome here?
Yes! Children of all ages are welcome here. Please see our Childcare page for information about childcare options during our Sunday services. Sunday school is available for school aged children. But most importantly, all children are welcome at all times at every service.
Can I receive Communion here?
Communion in the Episcopal Church is not limited to Episcopalians or other Anglicans. All Christians baptized with water in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are welcome to receive communion. If you are not baptized but feel drawn to receive, our clergy would welcome the chance to have a conversation with you about baptism – life in Christ is open to all.
How do I make a Confession here?
You may call the church office to talk with our Rector, Father Benjamin, or email him at email@example.com. Private confession is practiced by some Episcopalians but certainly not most. Before your first confession, the priest will probably want to take a few moments to outline the parameters of confession. As in the Roman Church, the seal of the confessional is absolute, and the priest may never reveal what has been said to him or her.
Is this Church open for prayer during the day?
The Church is typically open for prayer Monday through Friday from 10 to 4. However, with only one or two people in the church office, and pastoral calls that arise during the day, there are some times when the church doors may be shut for a while until someone returns on site.
Are divorced people welcome?
Yes, divorced and remarried people are welcome in this congregation and welcome to receive the Sacraments of the Church. While we take marriage very seriously, with marriage intended to be a sacrament that is life-long, we also recognize that there are circumstances where divorce becomes necessary and is in the best interest of all parties involved.
Are LGBTQ people welcome?
Yes, persons of all sexual orientations and all gender identities are welcome here. We have gay and lesbian parishioners as well as clergy, and families with children in which both parents are of the same gender. The Episcopal Church welcomes gays and lesbians at every level of parish life and church leadership.
Who is Saint Stephen?
Saint Stephen was one of the first deacons in the early Church in Jerusalem and is also regarded as the first Christian martyr. The New Testament Book of Acts records his speech before the Jewish Sanhedrin and of his stoning to death outside the walls of Jerusalem. It is typical for a parish church to be named in honor of a particular saint or Feast Day on the Christian Calendar, and so our spiritual forebears in the 1830s chose Saint Stephen to be our “patron saint” as the parish was organized.
How do I get involved or become a member?
You can get involved by talking with one of the clergy or anyone else in the parish about what you are interested in doing. There are many ways to serve in worship, or in outreach through Epiphany Soup Kitchen, or even just by sitting in the church to welcome visitors during the day. It is very easy to become a member – simply find one of our clergy after a service and tell them this is something you are interested in, or email the rector at firstname.lastname@example.org. They will be more than happy to follow up with you and gather your basic information and add you to our membership database.
Why do you use incense?
The burning of incense to honor God is scriptural. The Old Testament records its use in the Jerusalem Temple, and the Book of Revelation in the New Testament likewise describes the prayers of the saints rising like incense. Incense was carried in procession ahead of officials and emperors in ancient Rome, much the way we carry it in procession here. This way of honoring the divine and sacred in our midst has been a part of the Church’s worship since its very beginning.
Why is there large statue of Mary in your church?
We are an Episcopal parish with a Catholic piety. We believe that honoring Mary as the Mother of Our Lord is fitting, as is the practice found in the majority of Christians around the world, including the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Coptic Churches. The statue in the chapel we call the “Lady Chapel” is a visual point of focus for our devotional prayers in which we ask her intercession for the world and for those we love.