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St. Stephen’s uses a mission and ministry approach to structure our activities. A mission team is a group that provides vision, direction, oversight and coordination around an area. A ministry entails "hands-on" work.

This is a web-like structure, rather than a hierarchical structure. For example, the Worship Mission Team includes members who represent the variety of ministries that support worship, like Altar Guild and Music; it also includes a representative from the Christian Formation Mission Team because of the formative function of worship activities. The interaction between and among the various mission teams and ministries enhances the function of each.

Each mission team has a mission statement — which is typical of a team structure. But whereas a mission statement in the secular world is a statement of purpose, in our religious setting, the mission statement includes purpose plus it contains the concept of Christian mission — being "sent forth" to do God’s work.

We invite all who pass our crossroads to join us in mission and ministry as we lead our lives doing the work that God has called us to do.

Acolytes | Altar Guild | Cemetery Mission Team
Chalice Bearers   Choirs   Church School
Crofton Christian Caring Council    Finance Team    Episcopal Teens (ET)
Guild of Severn Parish  
Hospitality Mission Team   Lay Eucharistic Ministers   Lectors
My Brother's Keeper   Clusters   Property Stewardship Mission Team
Stewardship Mission Team | Ushers and Greeters
Vestry | Wedding Facilitators | Worship Mission Team

The Guild of Acolytes provides the opportunity for youth and adults alike to take Acolytesan active role in the worship of the parish. Their traditional service during worship involves leading processions, helping to prepare the altar for Holy Communion, and generally helping the services run smoothly. Preparation to serve as an acolyte involves training and practice in the specific tasks of each role to be filled – torchbearer, crucifer, server, and thurifer. Acolytes are also expected to develop a greater understanding of the structure of worship services, demonstrate proficiency in a variety of tasks, and regularly serve during worship. While the majority of acolytes are youth from the 3rd grade through high school, several adults regularly serve, especially at times when youth are not readily available.

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Adult Christian Formation is a lifelong process as we grow in the understanding of our faith. St. Stephen’s offers a variety of opportunities throughout the year to stimulate adults to expand their Christian education. Offerings include Bible study groups, Rector's Forums on thought-provoking topics, and Inquirers’ Classes. During special seasons, there are also evening programs which may include worship, food and fellowship, as well as educational and crafts activities.

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The Altar Guild works behind the scenes, but their results are a very visible part of the worship of the church. Theirs is a ministry of housekeeping and beautification for the sanctuary and all items associated with worship. They not only prepare the altar for communion but also prepare our entire worship space to support and enhance our worship. This includes laundering the linens, polishing the brass, arranging the flowers, and providing for all other decorations in the Church. They prepare the church for baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmations, and all regular and special services. Members are divided into teams and each team is assigned a particular Sunday of the month. All members participate in preparation for special Feast Days such as Christmas and Easter.

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Our cemetery is a treasured connection between the past, the present, and the future of St. Stephen’s. Church GroundsWith graves that date back to 1838, it is in active use today. Many families have plots for future use and plots remain available for members of the parish to purchase. The St. Francis Garden provides a place for cremation burials as well as a quiet place for personal devotions. A columbarium will be added in the very near future to one side of the garden. The Cemetery Mission Team oversees the administration and maintenance of the graveyard, memorial gardens, and the burial records. Contractors under the supervision of this mission team provide landscape maintenance and interment services.

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Lay Eucharistic Ministers provide a sacramental ministry in the context of our worship by administering the wine for Holy Communion. They also assist in worship by leading the "Prayers of the People" (intercessory prayers) and by processing the Gospel Book for the reading of the Gospel. Being a Lay Eucharistic Minister requires some training and requires licensing by the bishop of the diocese.

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The Senior Choir adds beauty and meaning to our worship every week at the 10:00 a.m. service from September through June. The choir provides a strong base for the singing of hymns and service music and they offer an anthem each week. This ensemble also provides special music at major celebrations including Holy Days, Christmas Eve and Holy Week. Adult Choir practice is on Wednesday evenings and just before the 10:00 service on Sunday mornings.

Children's Choir Spirit Singers, our Junior Choir ,is open to children in Grade 2 through Grade 8. Their music is varied and includes both contemporary and traditional offerings.  The Spirit Singers practice on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. from September through May.

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Foundation Christian education takes place in our Church School, which provides classes for all young people from nursery school through high school. Church SchoolStructured classes are held during the school year, with summer programs in a less formal environment. The middle school church school program focuses on preparing youth for confirmation. Church School is held before and during the first part of the second worship service, and the children then join their families in the church at the offertory. On the first Sunday of each month, the young people attend the entire regular worship service with their families.

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The Crofton Christian Caring Council (CCCC) is an ecumenical cooperative ministry among nine churches in and surrounding the community of Crofton. Through their efforts and the contributions from participating churches, CCCC is able to provide assistance for utilities, rent, prescriptions, and groceries to those in need.

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The Finance and Investment Committee provides fiscal leadership for the parish and acts in an advisory capacity to the Vestry. Through the leadership of the team, the annual budget is set and subsequently managed on a monthly basis, including the recording and reporting of pledge payments and plate offerings. The Finance Mission Team also has the responsibility of managing the parish’s investments. The parish treasurer, head teller and teller team play key roles in carrying out these functions.

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Appalachia Service Project (ASP) ASP provides a service opportunity for a team of youth (14-18) and adults to make homes safer, drier and warmer for low income families in the Central Appalachia region.  Many who have participated in this work week will attest that when you help change the lives of others, they end up changing you!

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The purpose of the Guild is to be religious and benevolent in serving others through the parish. The members of the Guild fulfill this purpose by dedicating themselves to supporting good stewardship, giving time, talent, fellowship and respect to reflect a commitment to Christ and the work we are called to do. Guild members are focused on a future of continued service and reaching out in love to each other in our parish family, to our community, and to the world. Women's Guild Garden SaleFunds from the dinners provide for benevolences to organizations such as United Thank Offering, Bishop Claggett Center, Diocese of Maryland, Episcopal Relief and Development (formerly the Presiding Bishop’s Fund), Episcopal Social Ministries, The Arc, Crozier Society, All Saints’ Convent, Crofton Christian Caring Council, Gideons International, Children International, Arundel Habitat for Humanity, Chrysalis House, Anne Arundel Hospice, and Christmas in April. The Guild meets at 9:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month. Meetings begin with worship and include a business meeting, program and refreshments. Frequent "field trips" to places like the Naval Academy Chapel, the Greek Orthodox Church and St. John’s College are also favorite activities. The Guild is open to all women of the parish.

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The Hospitality Mission Team is hard at work, usually behind the scenes, to make sure you've got something to munch on during an Annual Meetings or a sandwich to bite into during a Town Hall Meeting. This mission team organizes and executes parish fellowship events during the year, supervises and assists with set-ups and break-downs, and ensures that our pantry is well-stocked. Hospitality and fellowship are all around us here at St. Stephens — the Guild of Severn Parish, the St. Stephen's Circle, the Ushers and Greeters and especially those faithful Sunday morning coffee makers all do their part to bring us together in breaking bread. A helping hand is never turned away!

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In every church community, there are members who are not able to attend worship services. Lay Eucharistic Visitors represent the parish when they take communion to our homebound members immediately after services each Sunday. Working in teams of two, they offer important pastoral care, ensuring that parishioners who are sick, infirm, or otherwise homebound receive communion once a month and that they are reminded that they remain an important part of our parish community. Persons called to this ministry make a two-year commitment to serve, receive appropriate training.

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Lectors

Lectors read the Sunday morning Old and New Testament lessons. They come forward from the congregation to the lectern at the time of the reading. This ministry involves three or four persons each Sunday — one or two at the 8:00 service and two at the 10:00 service. Scheduling is done two months in advance. Ongoing training is part of the program.

My Brothers Keeper Quilt MakingMy Brother’s Keeper is a quilting ministry that makes sleeping bags for the homeless of Baltimore. Inside each sleeping bag is a "goody bag" containing toiletries, towel, washcloth, and a warm item like mittens, hats, or a scarf. In their five-year ministry, they have completed over 300 bags. They also make sleeping bags for underprivileged teens to use on a camping trip in North Carolina. My Brother’s Keeper meets weekly on Wednesday mornings from September through June. Everyone with a basic ability to tie knots is invited to join in this ministry. Sewing skills are not necessary, only a genuine interest in helping those less fortunate and enjoying the company of others while doing so. Donations of clean blankets, large pieces of strong remnant fabric, unneeded clothing, and toiletries are received year round for this ministry.

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Prayer is the backbone of Christian life. Clusters serve the entire congregation in offering daily prayer and thanksgivings for items of joy and concern within the lives of our members. A call-list is utilized in cases of emergency. Participation is open to everyone in the parish.

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The Property Stewardship Mission Team, headed by our Junior Warden, oversees the physical assets of the parish -- preserving the character, protecting the value, and maintaining the effective use of God’sgifts of our beautiful buildings, grounds, and furnishings for His purposes. Visitors and newcomers searching for a new church home form strong first impressions of a parish from it appearance. Efforts at St. Stephen’s have resulted in an appearance that welcomes all who come.

As stewards, this mission team serves as more than a group of "handymen"; rather it applies its varied talents to manage the use and maintenance of our facilities and property. We look for needed improvements, work on solutions, and ensure the effective and prudent use of our physical resources. Occasionally, we don our old clothes, call for support from the arish, and pitch in on tasks that need attention. More often, we work with professional service providers to maintain and enhance our assets. As the parish continues to grow and activities at the Church increase, keeping a welcoming appearance has become a bigger job and requires an increasing number of parishioners dedicated to this service.

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Stewardship is about Thanksgiving – how we manage our time, abilities, and resources for God’s work at St. Stephen’s and in the community. We are reminded of our stewardship each Sunday during worship as we give thanks during the announcement homily for some aspect of our giving. The Stewardship Mission Team provides a process to ensure that every member of the parish has the opportunity to share their gifts in the work of the community. In addition to the annual financial pledging program, we encourage members to pledge their time and talents to be used at St. Stephen’s and the community beyond. StewardshipBy sharing and combining our gifts, we ensure that our work in God’s name will continue in the future.

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Ushers With a warm hello and distribution of bulletins, the ushers form the front line of hospitality on Sunday mornings and at other worship services as well. These volunteers are representatives from the congregation who present our gifts of thanksgiving, first by delivering the elements to the altar for communion and then by presenting our collective offering.

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The Vestry provides leadership and vision for our St. Stephen’s community. As trustees, the Vestry provides a leadership cradle for the ministry and missions of the parish — ensuring effective use of God’s gifts in doing God’s work. By definition the members of the Vestry serve in a fiduciary capacity, responsible for all facets of parish life, including its business affairs. Consisting of twelve elected members who serve three-year terms, a youth member elected each year, the Rector as chairman, and several ex officio and appointed members, the Vestry meets monthly to review appropriate business affairs, to engage in study and discussion for self-improvement, and to prayerfully consider the needs, goals, and vision for the parish and the surrounding community.

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Wedding Facilitators work with the clergy and the altar guild in assisting bridal parties in the planning and implementation of wedding ceremonies. One facilitator is assigned to each couple to help them prepare for their special day. Facilitators help to answer practical questions regarding flowers, decorations, fees associated with weddings, and other important information. Couples interested in getting married are reminded that membership in the parish is required and an initial appointment with a member of the clergy should occur before a member of the wedding facilitators is contacted. Anyone interested in serving as a facilitator is welcome to participate in this ministry.

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Worship is the central activity at St. Stephen’s. Through the ministry of Word and Sacrament, we are drawn closer to God and to one another. Our ministry is to provide vision and leadership in our worship. Meeting quarterly, our clergy, staff, and team leaders for the Altar Guild, Lectors and Chalice Bearers, Acolytes, and Ushers discuss and plan our worship

activities. Discussions and decisions about services times, special services, and other arrangements take place during these meetings.

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