St. Stephen’s Episcopal School will gather on Friday, December 16 at 8:30 a.m. for our annual Festival of Lessons and Carols. The first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols took place at King’s College in Cambridge in 1918, connecting us to our Anglican roots in the Church of England.

This hour of prayer is a special time to gather and hear the story of Christ in word and song. Our students and faculty, under the direction of Shannon Hesse and Stephen Bachicha, have spent many hours in preparation for the musical offerings of this service. We look forward to hearing many joyful noises on Friday, along with lessons offered by our High School students. Be sure to reach out with a hearty thanks to all involved.

Our church and school both embrace a warm welcome of all traditions and faith affiliations, leading from a posture of inclusion and hospitality. This is one of the many wonderful attributes of our Episcopal Identity. Another aspect of this identity is the observance of common prayer, as we strive to remain faithful to our tradition. We seek authenticity and transparency in communicating who we are, while always respecting the diversity of our community.

In the Episcopal Church, all of our services are framed as offerings to God. Our prayer, whether in word, song, movement, or silence, is oriented on giving thanks to our Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life. As such, applause and flash photography is not appropriate in the context of our prayer. We surely want to lift up and celebrate the gifts, talents, and hard work, but we humbly ask that all parents reserve this form of affirmation for after the service. Please know that our Director of Communications and Growth, Toni Morales, will be tastefully capturing moments of our prayer together to share with our community. This approach is also in line with Montessori philosophy, for we are careful as educators to leave space for accomplishment to emerge from within the child.

We have been deliberate in our weekly chapels to maintain reverence during gatherings of prayer, noting that our chancel is not a stage, that the altar is more than a table, and that we do not gather to be entertained, but rather to be united in prayer and challenged to grow spiritually.

On behalf of our Head of School, David Coe, we look forward to the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Friday, December 16. We pray that all who come may be enlightened and sent forth as beacons of hope in the world.

With the Blessing of Advent,

The Rev. Brandon Peete, Director of Spiritual Life

Mr. David Coe, Head of School