The Revd Lee Barnes is Vicar of Holy Trinity, Hotwells, and Saint Stephen's in the city centre.
The Community of Saint Stephen’s
‘Reconnecting Faith through Simplicity, Creativity & Engagement’
The Community of Saint Stephen’s is a small gathered group of people who desire to lead and model simple lives, connect with the creativity of others and provide opportunities to engage with and develop faith. We seek to reflect on what it means in practice to be a home for engaged spirituality, creating communities of wholeness with Christ at the source.
We want to re-imagine what it means to be a person of faith, by living lightly in a world heavy with complexities. We believe that it can often be easier to complicate life than keep things simple. We aim to have shared values and practices, which make it easy and simple for others to join the community.
There is so much creative energy active in our city and within our community. We try and explore how God’s creativity can be released at Saint Stephen’s through offering a space for faith to be found in new and different places. We are a community which believes that God is not limited to the religious world, let alone the church world, but may be encountered literally everywhere.
We seek to find compatible places of dialogue and integration where community can also include spirituality and action. Jesus was both embedded in his cultural context and at the same time brought something new to it.
We want to be culturally aware and culturally distinct because we believe God is not out of touch with culture. We try to be a community where the known, the stranger and the seeker discover a place to be. We hope you may find both a home and an adventure for your faith journey.
A Community of Prayer and Worship
We recognise that, faith involves all of our life and, as important as our Sunday gathering is, the rest of the week is equally important. We view the whole of our lives as worship and attempt to be a church community, in practice, which reflects an authentic and relevant way of (Christian) being and doing.
We seek to develop a rhythm of prayer, both individually and as a community, that acknowledges people’s busy lives in a world which can put pressure on our time and resources. Therefore, we explore how to connect with prayer through the ordinary things of life so that our life hidden with Christ may discover God in stillness and movement, noise and crowds.
A Community of Arts
We believe that God is both the invited and, sometimes, the uninvited guest in art. We appreciate that art encompasses a broad spectrum of creative channels, and as a community we are open to discovering God and learning about our faith, whether it is through music, poetry, photography, paintings, dance, theatre and many more places.
The Christian narrative of art finds its roots in the understanding of God as a creator, an artistic DNA at the core of the universe. The Big Bang of Art! We seek to be a community that offers a forum for creative engagement with, and exploration of, the arts.
A Community of Reflection
We believe that God can be as active in the diverse communities of our city as within the walls of our church. We each have the potential to interpret culture and discern the work of God in our world.
We view ourselves as a learning community, exploring ways in which we can grow in faith through listening, observing, waiting, discussing and participating both with the scriptures and in relationship with God. We seek to find simple ways to invite others to be part of the community.
A Community of Reconciliation
We seek to be a community providing opportunities to gather, facilitate, enable and transform both the lives of others and the city for the better. We care passionately about serving our city but do so being aware of our own limitations of what we can achieve. We try to be a resource for people and organisations within a sustainable financial model.
Church is not to be some kind of ‘ecclesiastical hospice’, a place of passive waiting, but a community seeking reconciliation, providing hope and actively living in the present. We try to honour the gift of our creation by being a channel for environmental, justice and social concerns.
A Community of Partnership
We are connected to Holy Trinity church in Hotwells and the river that connects the two parishes is symbolic of our partnership together in mission and ministry for the city centre. We work together but also appreciate each other’s distinctiveness.
Our community is not in isolation but is connected to the varied networks that find a home at Saint Stephens. These include Civic events, the Business community, visitors, Aslan bookshop, charities, support groups and engagement with local schools.
Community Structure and Life
Team: Vicar and Ministers overseeing the spiritual life of the community
PCC: responsible for the running of the church
Financial Oversight: looking after the building and finances
Dream: a creative group between Saint Stephens and Holy Trinity
Sunday Gathering: 10:00am worship
Friday Gathering: From 4.00 pm on the first Friday of each month, a gathering for both churches at the Vicarage
Clergy Time: an opportunity to book in some time with one of the Team
We acknowledge reality and not illusion, ‘as though we’re pretending, against all the evidence, that there are still enough clergy and resources to maintain the previous pattern of Church - rather than hearing God’s invitation and using our imaginations to reinvent ourselves in new ways.’
Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, 2009