Within Our Walls

If you’ve ever wondered how many people it takes to “be Church” in the way we are here at St. Stephen’s, this page is for you. We are a beautiful, faith-filled example of “the ministry of the baptized,” with many people involved in various ways in our worship, the day-to-day business, and in our ministry of hospitality, which includes hosting various community groups.


Worship

The Altar Guild members do their work behind the scenes, preparing for the Eucharist and our other worship services. They lovingly care for the sacred vessels and the linens. They ready the chancel (the area enclosed by the altar rail) for worship, and later they take care of the clean up. They tidy up the pews so that the hymnals and prayer books are where they belong. In short, they ensure that we have all that we need for our worship. And, if you’ve ever wondered who makes the changes in color that are part of our liturgical tradition, wonder no more.

It may not be possible to overrate the important role of the ushers and greeters. You’ve heard the adage, “First impressions count,” and that is as true for a parish as it is anywhere else. A warm greeting, help with the lay of the land, collecting the offering, and assisting with Communion are among the responsibilities. And, as with our other ministries, this is done in teams.

Literally leading the procession at the beginning of the service and for the proclamation of the Gospel before helping to ensure that the Eucharistic Celebration goes smoothly until leading us back into the world at the end of the service, acolytes are essential to our liturgy. At St. Stephen’s our recent custom has been to have an adult crucifer who also serves as the chalicist, though we are open to having younger folks serve as acolytes (crucifer and torch bearers).

One of the most wonderful aspects of our Episcopal liturgy is that the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament are offered by lay lectors. Another is that the Prayers of the People are offered by a lay intercessor and, at St. Stephen’s, that person stands among the people.

The Celebration of the Eucharist, though presided over by a priest, is not exclusively the priest’s. Lay members participate in the administration of Communion as chalicists. This is an “official” role in the Episcopal Church, requiring licensure (essential training and verification of training submitted to the diocese each year).

Music is an essential element of the Episcopal liturgy. At St. Stephen’s, the gift of music we enjoy is such that it has it’s own section on our website. You can find it here.


Day-to-Day Business

The day-to-day business begins immediately after the 10:00 am Sunday service when our dedicated counters do the important work of documenting the amount of the financial offering from the two services and preparing the collection for deposit.

We have a team of office volunteers that meets each week to prepare the bulletins for our Sunday services. At other times during the year they gather to help with similar tasks related to seasonal services and special events.

The Vestry is the group legally responsible for the oversight of the parish, preschool, and cemetery. Comprised of wardens, vestry members, and the Rector, this group meets monthly and as needed to ensure that we are doing our best to live our faith in accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Newark. They are also spiritual leaders of the parish, so that all they do is grounded in faith and prayer.

The Finance Committee is a standing committee of the parish, charged with overseeing the finances of the parish, the preschool, and the cemetery. This groups meets monthly to review the budget and financial statements, as well as to make recommendations to the Vestry about major financial decisions.

The Preschool Committee is a standing committee of the parish, charged with overseeing the Preschool. This group works closely with the Preschool Director and meets monthly when the Preschool is in session.


Hospitality

Though radical hospitality is at the core of who we are at St. Stephen’s, there are a few ways we live this that are perhaps more obvious than others.

Coffee Hour is a chance for members and visitors to gather after the 10:00 am service to talk and to enjoy delicious snacks and beverages.

Several times during the year, Coffee Hour has a specific theme, such as when we celebrate Chinese New Year or other special occasions. The food and drinks other than coffee and tea are provided by parishioners, who sign up to do so. Coffee Hour Hosting Guidelines are available here.

Our signature outreach ministry, Drumming Camp (an established partnership with the Episcopal Prison Ministry), has become such an integral part of our family that we now consider it one of the “Within Our Walls” ministries.

The children of the Drumming Camp share in the life of the parish year-round, including participating in our Celebration of New Ministry in March 2019.

We are thrilled to be the rehearsal home for the Paper Mill Broadway Show Choir. This amazingly talented group of young people use our space for their weekly rehearsals. In return, they perform a special benefit concert each spring for the parish. This very special event is published in our weekly newsletter and calendar, as well as announced in our weekly services and bulletin.

St. Stephen’s is host to AA groups several times throughout the week. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS ® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Please check our calendar for more information.