Reopening May 23rd, 2021
A note from the reopening task force:
Worship connects us with God and with each other. This is one of our five core values, and in our recent listening sessions, we talked about it as we started planning for reopening the church. Here’s the explicating paragraph for that core value:
In our worship, we offer our love to God and accept God’s love for us (Ps. 100). Communal worship is the center of our lives together. When we gather to worship as the body of Christ, we experience the presence of Jesus as we sing, pray, laugh, play, listen and learn (Mt. 18:20). We welcome children as they are to play an active role in worship, experiencing what it means to worship God with others. No one is excluded from Christ’s ministry; at St. Stephen’s, we welcome anyone who seeks an encounter with the living God. When worship includes all different sorts of people, we reflect God’s Kingdom.
We have waited until we felt like we could live into this vision to regather for in-person worship, and we think that, between vaccine numbers and other safety developments, we are there. So we’ll be gathering for worship in-person on May 23 — Pentecost — for the first time since March of 2020. As we get closer to that date, we’ll be posting a full list of our COVID-19 procedures and policies on the church website. But we want you to be confident of the steps we are taking, so here’s a little bit of what to expect when we come back together.
St. Stephen’s is a singing church. Congregational singing is a huge part of our worship practice. We heard from many people in the listening sessions that if we aren’t singing together, there’s not much point in worshipping in-person! Because we want everyone who wants to sing to be able to do so, we’re going to be extra stringent about mask wearing and social distancing between households in how we space ourselves throughout the sanctuary.
Our online worship has been life-giving to many, and will continue. We’ve heard from people who are homebound, people who have to travel because of their jobs or their kids, and people who live far from the church and just can’t make it to 43rd street every Sunday about how wonderful online worship has been for them; it’s allowed them to stay connected to our church in spite of difficulties. Even once we begin to meet together in-person again, we will include people worshipping online in our services! The other thing that this means is that if you are feeling the least bit under-the-weather, please stay home and join our online worship community. We want to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19, and other illnesses, too!
Attendance taking will look different! At the doors, we’ll have volunteers to check peoples’ temperature and welcome them to worship. Our usher teams will include people who are using our church software to sign folks into worship, and record where they sit. We’re going to subdivide the sanctuary into 5 zones and keep track of which of the zones each person goes to. In the event that someone learns that they have tested positive, we’ll send a church-wide email with the Zone they were sitting in, allowing folks to decide if they need to be tested. While we’ll share which zone someone was in, the identity of the person who tested positive will remain anonymous, to protect everyone’s confidentiality.
Other safety measures will be in place, and this is a work in progress! We want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to make people feel safe, comfortable, and confident when they choose to worship in-person. We’ll have sanitizing stations, dismiss people through designated doors, avoid passing offering plates, and generally be safety-conscious.
With everyone’s help, we have confidence that we’ll reopen smoothly, safely, and in a way that really allows us to connect with God, and with each other, in wonderful ways. See you soon!
Join Us Soon!
2003 West 43rd St, Houston, 77018
Worshiping God is at the core of who we are and what we do! We gather for worship every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in our sanctuary (beginning May 23rd, 2021) , and online at Facebook and YouTube. We would love for you to join us.
Our worship services are centered on the preaching and celebration of the bible. To hear some of our recent sermons, click here or visit the listen tab.
More than a Sunday Morning
Our church is much more than Sunday mornings! If you’re interested in our history, our bible studies, events, and ministries for people of all ages, or anything else, explore our website, or send us an email, and let’s talk!
Frequently Asked Questions
St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church is located at 2003 West 43rd Street, near T.C. Jester Boulevard. A Map with turn-by-turn directions from your location is available by clicking here.
Plenty of parking is available on our site. Visitors are invited to park in the lot adjacent to the building; if all of these spots are full, you are also able to park across 43rd Street in front of the Scout House. Most people enter the sanctuary from the side doors connected to the parking lot at either side of the north end of the building.
St. Stephen’s is handicap-accessible throughout the building, and many differently-abled people worship with and serve this church. In the parking lot there are several van-accessible parking spaces; there is an ADA-compliant curb ramp on the west side of the building beneath the carport and next to the church offices. There is space for wheelchairs next to the pews throughout the sanctuary.
Assistive hearing devices are available, just ask an usher as you enter. Large-print hymnals are available from the ushers for traditional services, and during contemporary services easy-to-read projection screens display the words to sing and for spoken responses.
Adults and children with developmental disabilities and their caregivers are present at many worship services, and often enjoy being seated near the front on the far right, which provides a great view of worship activities plus easy access to exits. Regardless of the abilities of you or your family, you’ll find a warm welcome from the St. Stephen’s community.
You are invited to wear what is comfortable for you. In the Traditional Worship Service (11 am), you will find a mixture of casual and formal dress. In the Contemporary Worship Service (8:30 am) you will find people dressing casually. There are shawls available in the Narthex in case the Sanctuary is too cold for you.
No. Bibles are provided in the pews, but you are also invited to bring your own Bible.
Sunday services begin at 8:30 a.m. (Contemporary) and 11:00 a.m. (Traditional). Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:40 a.m. except for the Adult Bible Class which begins at 9:30. Our ushers at the front doors will be happy to assist you in finding Sunday School rooms and other facilities (like coffee!). We suggest that you plan to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early to allow for parking and finding your way around.
Children are welcomed with open arms! In worship, they are specifically included as much as possible. During both services, children are called to the altar steps for a Children’s Sermon. After the Children’s Sermon, some of our nursery staff will lead the children under four into the nursery if the parents desire. Our nursery is available to care for babies from one week to four years old during Sunday School and during all services.
Our Senior Pastor is Rev. Nathan Lonsdale Bledsoe and our Pastor of Music and Worship is Rev. Lindsay Smith. Pastors Nate and Lindsay serve in preaching, worship leadership in both services, and participate in other activities across the church community. If you leave your name and phone number on the registration pad, we will contact you as soon as possible. To learn about Nathan, Lindsay or some other friendly faces at the church, click here
Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of each month in both worship services and every Sunday at 8:30. Methodist Communion is open to Christians of all denominations. All who genuinely want to follow Christ are invited to participate. Ushers will assist you in knowing what to do. If you are not able to walk forward, let the usher know, and communion will be brought to you in the pew.