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 offers many opportunities for people 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 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, which takes place in local restaurants and parishioners’ homes.
Christian formation is offered at 10:15 am on a wide range of topics. Recent programs have included Hogwarts Academy, a newcomers and confirmation class based on the magical world of Harry Potter, a course on the religious art in the Art Institute of Chicago, and leadership development training.
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. Our choir, directed by the Rev'd Frank Showers, meets at 8 am prior to the 9 am service during the program year, and then takes the summer off. 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. 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 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.