St. Stephen’s is known for the quality, breadth and depth of speakers who visit the parish, including renowned theologians, writers, poets, and monks. Our speakers series has become a resource not only for this parish but for the larger church and the community.
Past speakers have included Barbara Brown Taylor, John Philip Newell, Harvey Cox, Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver, Jane Hirshfield, Jon Meacham, Becca Stevens, Martin Laird, Lauren Winner, Martin Smith, the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, and many others.
All events are open to the general public. You do NOT have to be a member of St. Stephen's to attend. Many, though not all, of these events have a suggested donation, but please do not allow this to be a barrier--see the information at the bottom of this page about suggested donations.
St. Stephen's also offers a variety of retreats and workshops and the Sunday Forum meets at 10:10 a.m. in the Large Fellowship Hall between our 9 and 11:15 a.m. services. The Forum often welcomes guest speakers; more details about the Forum schedule for 2018-19 will be available here.
Books by our speakers are available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen's.
A word about suggested donations
We suggest a donation of $25 to attend most events (unless noted otherwise); this usually covers the expenses of our bringing these outstanding writers, teachers and thought leaders to you. We want our speakers to be accessible to all, and we know that some people will be able to donate more than $25, and others less. If you plan to pay the suggested donation, you may reserve your place online. If you prefer to pay a different amount, please stop by the parish office to register, or call 804.288.2867.
Speakers for 2018-19
John Hager // Tuesday, September 18 // 7 p.m.
Virginia's former lieutenant governor recently published a memoir, Best Seat in the House, tracing his rise in politics and the challenges he faced along the way—the most visible being his bout with polio. But this upbeat public servant insists that he has always “felt capable of success in my wheelchair,” thanks in part to people who have helped him along the way. Hear his inspiring story and learn from this Republican politician who has served both Republican and Democrat governors about how we arrived at our current political moment. Copies of his book will be available in our bookshop and at the event.
Jean Twenge // Thursday, October 11, 2018 // Teens and Technology // Reserve your seat
The cover article in the October 11, 2017 edition of The New York Times Magazine examined the soaring incidence of severe anxiety among adolescents in the United States in the years since the introduction of smart phones, and coinciding with other societal and cultural changes. The article—“Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis of Emerson College in Boston—shot to the top of the Times’ “most emailed” list and stayed there for about a week. One of the experts quoted in the article was psychologist Jean M. Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of more than 140 scientific publications and books, including iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy–and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and an article published in The Atlantic and referenced in the Times article, “Have smartphones destroyed a generation?” (September 2017 issue). Benoit wrote that Twenge “used to be skeptical of those who sounded an alarm about teenage internet use.”
“It seemed like too easy an explanation for negative mental-health outcomes in teens,” Benoit quotes Twenge, “and there wasn’t much evidence for it.”But after searching for other possible explanations,including economic ones, she “kept returning to two seemingly unrelated trend lines — depression in teenagers and smartphone adoption. (There is significantly more data about depression than anxiety.) Since 2011, the trend lines increased at essentially the same rate.” Dr. Twenge explores this further in her book (iGen) and in her article in The Atlantic.
Gary Jones and other members of the parish staff were so affected by the article that Gary wondered if St. Stephen’s might be able to get Dr. Twenge to visit as part of our community speakers series. The result is that a year to the day after the publication of that article, Jean Twenge will speak at St. Stephen’s about what she has learned from her extensive research. Reserve your place for this compelling presentation.
Barkley Thompson // Sunday, October 28 // 7:00 p.m.
The dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, will be here to discuss his new book, In the Midst of the City: The Gospel and God’s Politics. A book signing will follow.
The book, available now in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen's, is a collection of essays and sermons arguing that Christian faith and politics are inseparable. The Gospel, Dean Thompson asserts, is inherently political but not partisan. To embody God's politics, we must first steep ourselves in God's vision for the world embodied in the Gospels; only then can we act politically.
This event is free but we request registration so we will know how many to expect.
Paul-Gordon Chandler // Sunday, November 11 // 10:10 a.m.
The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler will speak in the Sunday Forum about Kahlil Gibran. This Episcopal priest, interfaith advocate, writer, and social entrepreneur lived and worked in North Africa and the Middle East for many years. An authority on Christian-Muslim relations and on the Middle East, he is now based in Chicago, and is the founder and president of CARAVAN, a peacebuilding non-profit that uses the arts to build bridges between the creeds and cultures of the Middle East and West. For 10 years was rector of the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in southern Cairo, Egypt, a spiritual home for people of over 30 nationalities and from many religious traditions, primarily from the diplomatic, aid and business communities in the country. During that period he visited St. Stephen’s several times to discuss this bridge-building work. He’ll discuss his latest book, In Search of a Prophet: A Spiritual Journey with Kahlil Gibran, about the all-embracing spirituality of this Lebanese American poet-artist, mystic and best-selling author of The Prophet. Chandler will also preach at the 9 and 11:15 a.m. services
John Phillip Newell // Sunday, November 11 // 5:30 p.m.
The Rev. Dr. John Phillip Newell will give the reflection during the Sunday evening service in the main church, and will give a talk in Palmer Hall Chapel after the service (free).
Newell, who has led workshops and spoken at St. Stephen's Church several times in the past, will be at Roslyn to lead Year II of the Virginia the School of Celtic Consciousness. We are grateful that he is making a visit here while he is in town. His most recent presentation at St. Stephen's focused on the Celtic influence on John Muir, the father of American environmentalism.
Barbara Brown Taylor // Thursday, November 15, 7 p.m. // Reserve your seat here
The author of Leaving Church, An Altar in the World, Learning to Walk in the Dark and other acclaimed books will return to St. Stephen's this fall. This Episcopal priest left parish ministry a dozen years ago and has been teaching college students, writing and speaking; Time magazine named her one of the world's 100 most influential people a few years ago, and her previous visits to St. Stephen's have drawn standing-room-only audiences. Some of her books are available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen's; hear her speak and get your book(s) signed!
Pico Iyer // Thursday, March 28, 2019, 7 p.m. // Reserve your seat here
Pico Iyer is known not only for his travel writing and novels, but also for his writing and speaking about quiet and stillness. At a time of round-the-clock news, beeping phones and escalating stress, it can be harder than ever to remember what we care for and what really matters. Drawing on his time in monasteries Eastern and Western, calling upon his 44 years of talks with the XIVth Dalai Lama, and trying to maintain his sanity in an age of acceleration and distraction, journalist and essayist Pico Iyer shares practical tips and suggestions for how to make a life as well as a living in a world of clutter and confusion, in "The Stillness We Ache For."
Copies of Iyer's books are available in the Bookshop @ St. Stephen's.
Please call the parish office at 804.288.2867 if you have questions.