The Celtic Service
We hear much today about the failures of Christianity. It is important also to hear about a Christian community getting it right. St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, is showing us what a new birthing might look like. Their Celtic Evensong and Eucharist on Sunday evenings combines the meditative silence, the simplicity of utterance, and the faithful commitment to care for the earth that many of us are yearning for in our lives. This is a model of the way forward that I would like the Christian household to know about. (John Philip Newell)
At 5:30 p.m. each Sunday evening, St. Stephen's offers a service of Celtic Evensong with Holy Communion. Our Celtic worship is drawn from the liturgical traditions of Iona and Northumbria, and the music at these services is contemplative, lively and haunting. The prayers are at once earthy, holy and inclusive. This service has been well received not only by St. Stephen's parishioners, but includes worshipers from other churches in the area, as well as those with little or no religious background. All are welcome at this service.
The Celtic service includes healing prayer for those who desire it.
There is no traditional sermon, but a brief reflection near the beginning of the service given by a lay person or sometimes by a member of the clergy. You can listen to (or in some cases, read) past reflections here.
All are welcome to receive Communion at St. Stephen's. Instructions about receiving the bread and wine are printed on cards available in the pews (and are here), but please do not worry about "doing it right." The important thing is simply that you know that God welcomes you, and there is no telling how God might reach you in Communion. Just be open.
Read Diana Butler Bass' Facebook post about her experience of the Celtic service. Diana also writes about this experience in her 2015 book Grounded.
Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly visited St. Stephen's in January to learn more about what Diana experienced, and this segment aired on this national PBS series in April 2016.
Many churches have asked how to use this liturgy in their own settings. You may download a packet containing sample prayers, music and other materials here, and contact Gene LeCouteur for additional information.