The Acts of the Apostles describes the life among the early believers following Jesus's ascension into heaven, saying that "they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." We are called to practice the same commitments to learn and grow in our own lives, and St. Helena's/Santa Elena offers many opportunities for adults to mature in their faith.
“Soul Kitchen” Faith Discussion Group
Every Wednesday, our wildly popular and no-holds-barred “Soul Kitchen” faith discussion group meets at the church at 6:30 pm. We gather to debate theology, reflect on current events, or just play “Stump the Priest!” No preparation is needed, except an open and curious mind, so lay your provocative questions and perspectives on the table. And feel free to join us for dinner before the discussion at 5:15 pm at the Willow Hills Restaurant at 6678 Joliet Road in Countryside. Can’t join us on Wednesday? Visit our Facebook group to stay up to date on the latest discussions.
Christian formation for both adults and children is offered at 10:15 am in both English and Spanish on a wide range of topics. Some classes and discussions will be bilingual, while others will be exclusively in English or in Spanish. Most recently, we have developed a program called Hogwarts Academy, based on the magical world of Harry Potter, thanks to an evangelism grant from the Episcopal Church. This program serves as an inquirer’s class for those new to the Episcopal Church, as confirmation preparation, and as a refresher course for lifelong Episcopalians. A second semester is in the planning stages for the Spring of 2019.
Lay people are just as essential to the worship of God as the clergy. They read the Bible lessons, serve at the altar, lead the congregation in the Prayers of the People, and offer incense on major feast days. It is a sign of congregational health when numerous members of the parish--both children and adults--share responsibility for leading the worship of the Church. If you feel called to this ministry, please let our leaders know, and we will help you identify the roles in which you might like to serve and provide you training.
Music is a passion and a point of pride at St. Helena's/Santa Elena. Our English-language choir, directed by the Rev'd Frank Showers, meets at 8 am prior to the 9 am service. The choir rehearses the day's hymns, as well as psalm chants, service music for the Eucharist, and choral anthems. Both children and adults are encouraged to participate. In our Spanish-language service, Alejandro (Alex) Luna leads the congregation in singing hymns and service music from the Latin American tradition. If you enjoy singing, we hope that you will choose to add your voice to our praise of God!
What is a sacristan? According to An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, "a sacristan is a person who works in the sacristy, the room for storing and working with the various items needed for the liturgies and worship of the church. These items include the vessels, vestments, books, bread and wine, and candles."
Each week people work in the sacristy to prepare everything that will be needed for the liturgy. They lay out vestments, prepare the bread and wine for the Eucharist, and clean the vessels. Caring for these holy objects is a very important ministry and a sign of a person's love for God. If you are interested in serving as one of our sacristans, please let Fr. Ethan know. Training sessions will be provided periodically as they are needed.
The Men's Club meets at 6 pm on the 4th Monday of every month for conversation, food, and fellowship. All are welcome to attend.
The vestry is the governing body elected by the congregation, led by two wardens. The wardens and vestry members work with the rector and other clergy to administer the the business of parish, including finances, building maintenance, strategic planning, and membership growth. Members of the vestry are elected by the congregation every year at our Annual Meeting in January, and we have begun the tradition of holding an annual vestry retreat in the Spring.
Becoming a member of the vestry is an important commitment and carries substantial responsibilities, and so leadership development training, including resources from the College for Congregational Development and other programs, is a key feature of service on the vestry. It is important on any vestry to have a healthy balance between new members with fresh perspectives and members with long-term experience in the parish. If you are interested in running for a vacant seat on the vestry, please speak to Fr. Ethan.