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There's a place for you here.

New to Richmond? Unfamiliar with the Episcopal Church, or with Christianity? Welcome.

Whoever you are, wherever you are in your spiritual journey, the people of St. Stephen's Church hope that your experience with this church will encourage and strengthen you.

As you browse our Web site, you might consider: 

  • visiting St. Stephen's for a worship service 
  • coming to an informal supper
  • stopping by the Farmers Market on Saturday morning
  • attending one of our receptions or lunches for visitors and newcomers (info here
  • signing up for an Inquirers Class
  • subscribing to St. Stephen's weekly email, the eSpirit; there is no cost, no obligation, and we will not share your email address with any outside group
  • attending a retreat, workshop or group, or participating in any of the other offerings you'll see on these pages. 

Do as much or as little as you like. There are no "requirements" for being a part of this community of faith. If you wish to be baptized or confirmed, or to transfer your membership from another Episcopal parish, we'd love for you to do so. But it's not required. Everything we do, everything we offer, is open to all, regardless of whether you are a "member" of this church. If you're here, you belong.

Here's an online visitor card: it's not required--it just helps us to be more responsive to you!


Our Services

St. Stephen's is a vibrant parish that offers worship, prayer and more seven days a week. Sunday, of course, is our big day. You are most welcome at any of the services held here.

Sunday Worship (summer schedule begins May 27)

  • 8:00 a.m., Holy Eucharist: Rite One
  • 9:00 a.m., Holy Eucharist: Rite Two*
  • 11:15 a.m., Holy Eucharist, Rite Two*
  • 5:30 p.m., Celtic Evensong and Communion*
  • 6:30 p.m., Sunday Community Supper
  • 8:00 p.m., Compline
*indicates child care available through age 4

Weekday worship 

  • 8:10 a.m., Morning Prayer with Communion
  • 5:30 p.m., Evening Prayer (on Wednesdays during the academic year, this service includes the Virginia Girls Choir) 

Saturday worship

  • 5:30 p.m., Holy Eucharist: Rite Two

Accessibility

There are several entrances to the church and parish house that are designed to be accessible to those with mobility issues or other physical limitations:

All entrances to the church, and the main entrance to the parish house, are equipped with power-assist doors. In addition, the main entrance to the parish house, from the large parking lot, has an elevator on the ground floor that allows you to bypass the steps. The Grove Avenue entrance to the main church is gently sloped, without steps, and the Three Chopt Road entrance has a ramp

Inside the church, several pews are shortened to allow space for a wheelchair or walker: the first pews on either side of the center aisle, nearest the altar, and the pews near the large baptismal font.

The church is equipped with assistive hearing devices for the hearing-impaired. Please ask an usher for one of these devices as you enter the church.


Nursery - Senior High

St. Stephen's Church has an active ministry for children and youth, staffed by an energetic and talented family ministries staff and dedicated, well-trained volunteers. Michael Sweeney, the director of family ministries, sends a regular email newsletter to parents for which you may sign up.

Confirmation

At St. Stephen's, young people who desire to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church may do so in the ninth grade or later. They are prepared in a year-long course called "Philip's Way," and confirmation takes place when one of our bishops visits St. Stephen's, usually in May.


Are you in your 20-30s?

Young adults are part of every facet of parish life at St. Stephen's, and you are always welcome at any worship service, adult education opportunity or social event—membership is NOT required. You (and your friends and family) are always welcome here. Single or married, with children or not, in school or not--all are welcome.

Get Connected

Some activities and ministries at St. Stephen's are designed especially for young adults, including a young adult Bible study group, social gatherings, retreats, and outreach and volunteer opportunities. The best way to keep up with what young adults are doing at St. Stephen's is to sign up for our e-newsletter.


A Fellowship

One of the distinctive things about being an Episcopalian is the sense of connection and fellowship one has with other Episcopalian Christians. St. Stephen's Episcopal Church is part of the Diocese of Virginia, one of the oldest and largest dioceses in the Episcopal Church.

Our diocese includes 80,000 people who worship God and reach out to others in 181 parishes in 38 counties in central, northern and northwestern Virginia. It is one of three Episcopal dioceses in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the others being the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia (based in Roanoke) and the Diocese of Southern Virginia (based in Norfolk). You can read more about the Diocese of Virginia at thediocese.net.

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Sunday Schedule

Holy Eucharist: 8:00, 9:00, 11:15

Christian Education for all ages: 10:10 (returning September)

OUR LOCATION

6000 Grove Avenue Richmond, VA 23226
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People Know Better

The policy of forced separation of children from their parents at America’s borders, and the inability of politicians to put a quick end to it, reminded me of a recent address at St. Stephen’s by Paul Scharre. A former U.S. Army Ranger and Pentagon official who now serves at a defense strategy think tank, Scharre is an authority on the rise of artificial intelligence and its application to autonomous weaponry. His fascinating book on the subject is Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War.

What one quickly surmises from reading the book or hearing him speak is that Scharre is a man with a strong moral conscience and a tender, humanizing sensibility. His persistent theme is that, since war is likely to be an ongoing reality, we simply must keep human beings involved. Because machines can act much faster than humans can respond, unleashing them to act autonomously in times of war could be humanity’s worst nightmare.

Machines can do many important things for us. Self-driving cars are likely to make transportation much safer, and machine-learning technology, combined with data analytics, could finally help us cure cancer. But machines, at least so far as we can imagine now, will not be able to intuit and make moral judgments about unforeseen circumstances. We need humans for that. If we remove humans from decision making in times of war, the future of humanity is in trouble.

One poignant example that Paul Scharre gives is of a situation he and his fellow soldiers encountered on one of his tours of duty in Afghanistan. Paul and his troops were holding a position when a young girl came by, ostensibly herding a few goats. The American soldiers could tell that the Taliban had put the little girl up to this, forcing her to carry a radio, stake out the Americans, and signal the Americans’ position to the Taliban.

Conventional rules of war allowed Scharre and his fellow soldiers to kill this child. She was technically an “enemy combatant.” But she was a young girl.

“Obviously,” Scharre said, “we weren’t going to kill a little girl, even though we knew exactly what the Taliban had told her to do. We let her go and simply waited for the Taliban forces to show up a little later.” It was a more dangerous thing for the Americans to do, but it was the right thing.

The point, of course, is that a machine would likely go ahead and kill the enemy combatant, even though she was a small child. But people know better.

People know better. That’s what I’ve been thinking about, as I’ve been reading, with all of you, about the separation of migrant children from their parents at our nation’s borders. An autonomous machine, lacking all sense of human tenderness and moral consciousness, might make the Machiavellian decision to separate children from their parents, as a way of trying to deter migrants and refugees. But people know better. The trouble is that right now, we seem to have lost touch with something essentially human in us, and we are creating our own nightmare.

Machines will never be capable of empathy, because empathy is the ability to feel exactly what another feels. Machines and humans will always be different from one another in this way. The challenge before us as a nation right now is to demonstrate that people know better.

We know better.

Related:

American Christians and the Refugee Crisis 
A Small Child in Our Midst 
Flee to Egypt

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