WEDDINGS, BAPTISMS, FUNERALS & OTHER LIFE EVENTS
St. Stephen's offers sacraments to mark sacred life occasions: baptism, marriage and holy union, confirmation and reception, and joining St. Stephen’s, as well as prayers for healing, thanksgiving for a child, blessing of a home, commitment to Christian service, discernment, at the time of death, or planning a funeral.
Holy Baptism is scheduled on the days designated in the Book of Common Prayer as particularly suitable for baptism: The Baptism of Our Lord, normally the first or second Sunday in January; Easter; The Day of Pentecost (50 days after Easter); All Saints Sunday (the first Sunday in November); and when the bishop visits. In addition, we schedule, as needed, a baptism between Pentecost and All Saints, frequently the first or second Sunday in September.
Each candidate is presented by one or more sponsors, sometimes called godparents. When sponsors do not include active members of St. Stephen’s, we ask a member of the congregation to be an additional sponsor so that every person baptized has a personal connection to this community of faith.
Three sessions of preparation precede each baptism, normally held two weeks before, one week before, and the day before (or the day of) baptism. Sessions are attended by adult and older youth who are candidates; by parents of young children who are candidates; and by their sponsors when possible. The third session includes sponsors (godparents) as well as parents. The first of these sessions focuses on the meaning of baptism. The second focuses on Christian formation and the parts in it that parents and the church community play. The third session includes a rehearsal of baptism and focuses on the responsibilities of sponsors.
For further information, contact the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-232-0900.
Marriage and Holy Union
Every couple planning a wedding or celebration of their union should speak with the rector/priest as far as possible in advance of a proposed date. At St. Stephen’s, 90 days' notice is the minimum required to plan a wedding and to provide the necessary pre-marriage instruction. When one or both of the couple have been married before, additional time is needed. While St. Stephen’s is thrilled to be able to marry same-sex couples, we follow the guidelines issued by our bishop regarding same-sex marriage.
Preparation for Holy Matrimony and for the Blessing of a Holy Union normally includes an initial meeting with the clergy, attendance at a Saturday workshop with other couples planning weddings, and one or more meetings with the officiating priest to focus on relationship counseling and ceremony planning. Topics covered typically include personality, personal history, financial planning and values, communication, and the sacramental nature of marriage.
The clergy (the wardens or staff overseeing pastoral care during this period when there is no priest on staff) are happy to discuss particular situations and circumstances with any couple, and you are encouraged to make an appointment to do so. Contact the church office (email@example.com, or 202-232-0900).
The sanctuary (main church) has a capacity of 200. St. Stephen's will provide set-up for up to 120 movable chairs (additional seating available upon request), microphones/sound system and security. A “green room” is also available prior to the wedding.
Our rate is $1,100 to book the sanctuary space for a total of 3 hours (set-up, ceremony and photos), plus an additional 1 hour for rehearsal prior to the ceremony (usually the day before). You may supply your own officiant. However, we can provide musicians and a reception space for additional fees.
Confirmation and Reception into this Church
Confirmation is the renewal of one’s baptismal promises before the Bishop, who represents the Apostolic Presence in the Church and is the chief pastor of the diocese. The Episcopal Church maintains the hope and expectation that every person baptized at a young age will make a public affirmation of baptismal promises by being confirmed by the bishop.
Confirmations in the Diocese of Washington take place at the National Cathedral several times a year. Parishes gather there for these festive celebrations, underlining the fact that the Church is far larger than one’s individual congregation.
Reception into The Episcopal Church is appropriate for those from other denominations/faith groups who have, through either adult baptism, confirmation, or in some equivalent rite, made a prior mature public affirmation of baptismal promises. Confirmation and Reception are essentially the same rite, differing only slightly in the form that the bishop uses to bless the candidate.
Reaffirmation of one’s baptismal promises is appropriate for those who wish to renew their baptismal vows in response to a reawakening of faith or some significant transition or event in their lives.
Generally in the spring, we offer a concise retreat to prepare for confirmation, reception, or reaffirmation. For further information, contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-232-0900)
Membership in St. Stephen’s
To become a member of St. Stephen’s, you can:
be baptized here, if you have never been baptized
let the parish office know that you wish to have your membership transferred here
or, if you are uncertain as to where your membership now resides, let the parish office know that you wish to be included as a baptized member
Other Sacraments and Services
The Laying on of Hands and Anointing of the Sick has been, from ancient times, a normal ministry of the Church for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Healing prayers are always offered for those desiring this sacrament following the 10:30 Sunday liturgy. At other times, anyone may ask for the Sacrament of Healing from a priest.
Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child
As soon after a new child is born or adopted, we encourage parents to bring the child to church so that the Christian community can offer prayers of thanksgiving and blessing. Contact the church office (email@example.com, or 202-232-0900).
The Blessing of a Home
The clergy (the wardens or staff overseeing pastoral care during this period when there is no priest on staff) are happy to arrange for the blessing of a house, whether new or not. The service can be very simple or more festive, and may or may not include people beyond the family of the house.
For further information, contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-232-0900).
Commitment to Christian Service
When a person undertakes some new responsibility in the course of living out one’s life as a baptized Christian, it is appropriate to share this fact with the parish family and to ask theirs and God’s blessing on the new work. The Prayer Book provides a form for such commitment. If this fits your situation, contact the church office (email@example.com, or 202-232-0900).
Sometimes a person needs to gather a small group to engage in a discernment process regarding some important decision. Contact the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-232-0900) to explore the establishment of a “Clearness Committee” and to find out possibilities for discernment.
At the Time of Death
When a member of the parish is near death, please contact the church (the office at email@example.com, or 202-232-0900, or the contact for pastoral care - Jane Bishop or 202-297-8627) so that the ministrations of the Church can be provided as well as other types of support, including visiting the person and the family, offering prayers, and providing other support as needed.
Advance Planning a Funeral or Memorial Service
We encourage planning your funeral or memorial service so that your wishes may be followed and the ministrations of the Church can avail to help family and loved ones to the fullest extent at the time of death. Parish clergy (the wardens or staff overseeing pastoral care during this period when there is no priest on staff) can assist you in making your desires known and in explaining the resources of the Christian tradition to address the issues of death and dying. For further information, contact the church (the office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 202-232-0900, or the contact for pastoral care - Jane Bishop or 202-297-8627).