It’s never easy to visit a new church for the first time. Whether you’ve attended church your whole life or never stepped foot in a church, St. Stephen’s is a safe place to bring your doubts, questions, and curiosities, regardless of your beliefs or background. We invite you to come and take a look around. What you’ll find is a group of people who truly desire to experience the presence of God among us and discover that life was never meant to traveled alone.
When are services?
St. Stephen’s services are on Sundays and more often during Holy Week (Easter week). There is an 8 am Holy Eucharist with a sermon but no music, and a 10:30 am High Mass with a sermon, hymns, and choir (the choir accompanies the services from September through mid-June).
What should I wear?
We want you to feel comfortable. After all, we are thrilled that you’re joining us and want you to be more focused on the service than what you’re wearing. In Coconut Grove it’s not uncommon to see people wearing sandals, shorts, and a shirt to church. Others prefer to still put on their “Sunday best,” and that’s fine too! We think you’ll fit in no matter how you dress.
How do I get to St. Stephen’s?
St. Stephen’s is located in the heart of Coconut Grove just southeast of Grand Avenue on McFarlane Road. Click here for a map.
Where should I park?
The church parking lot on McFarlane Road is one-way going in a counter-clockwise direction. You may park in any available spot; there is no reserved parking. During the school week, some parking is reserved for teachers staff, but this does not apply to weekends. You may also park in the lot on Main Highway, then walk to the back of that lot and through the gate, past the Great Hall and the Parish Center to the church. The main entrance to the church is off the McFarlane Road lot, towards the McFarlane Road end of the church.
Where do my children go?
Children’s Chapel is the perfect place for your children aged three to seven to go while you attend the 10:30 am service. They will rejoin you just before the Holy Eucharist. From September through June our nursery in the back of the church is staffed for infants through age three. If you would like your children to go to Sunday School at 9:30, please register them by calling Rev’d Jo-Ann Murphy at 305-448-2601. Our Sunday School teachers are trained in the Godly Play curriculum.
Of course your children are always welcome to sit with you in church during the entire service.
What is a St. Stephen’s service like?
The 8 am service is very simple, with readings, prayers said in unison (printed in the bulletin, which you can pick up in the back of the church), and a sermon. There are no hymns or other music. The service usually lasts about 45 minutes.
The 10:30 am service is much like a Roman Catholic High Mass, except that we are Anglican Catholics, with loose ties to the Church of England rather than strong ties to Rome. You will smell incense, stand for a procession at the beginning and end of the service, hear bells and listen to Anglican Chant and Anthems sung by our choir. It is a very beautiful, traditional Anglican High Mass with some standing, kneeling, genuflecting, and repeating prayers and creeds in unison. This is all written on a piece of paper called a bulletin, which will be handed to you when you arrive. If you are unsure of what to do, sit near the back and do what everyone else does. It is also completely okay to sit through the service without rising or kneeling when others do. The service usually lasts about an hour and 15 minutes.
If you are coming from a Roman Catholic background, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that both our Rector and our Assistant Rector are women.
Am I expected to put money in the offering?
We always appreciate monetary gifts of any size and will put them to good use. However, you are welcome to just let the offering plate pass you by. If you consider St. Stephen’s your church home, we’d love for you to prayerfully consider giving to St. Stephen’s. You can give by check or cash during the service, or you can set-up an online giving account.
The core of an Episcopal service is Holy Communion, also known as Eucharist. This is a ceremony derived from the supper which Jesus held with his followers on the night before his arrest and execution. We believe this ceremony, which occurs at each Sunday service, creates a special sort of contact with God, which helps to strengthen us as Christians.
Holy Communion involves the giving out of bread and wine which has been consecrated, or made holy, with special prayers. At St. Stephen’s real bread is used on Sunday mornings. Normally the members of the congregation walk up to the front of the church and kneel at the altar, receiving the bread from the priest in cupped hands. The chalice, the ceremonial goblet containing the wine, is dispensed by a chalice bearer. Alcohol is a disinfectant and the rim of the chalice is wiped between uses, so it is not likely you will catch anything by sharing communion. If you are concerned, you can hang on to the bread and dip this into the wine instead of drinking directly from the chalice. If you would rather not receive the actual bread and wine, cross your hands over your chest and you will receive a blessing instead.
At St. Stephen’s everyone, without exception, is invited to the Communion Rail.
Will I have to identify myself as a visitor?
No you will not. You can sign the guest register at the back of the church if you would like to receive a welcoming note from our clergy, and you can give us your email if you would like to receive our weekly electronic newsletter about upcoming events and other news. Also, this is a very friendly church, and if you stay for coffee and conversation after the service you will likely be approached by several people who will want to welcome you. But you will not be asked to stand and introduce yourself to the congregation.
I have hearing and/or visual problems. Is there any special assistance?
Yes! For those who are hearing impaired, we have special hearing devices that you can wear that will allow you to control the volume. If you think this would be beneficial to you, pick one up from an usher in the back of the church.