About

Saint Stephen’s is a place of acceptance, peace, and joy for all. Our church is richly varied, with people of different ages and backgrounds committed to following Jesus and sharing his love through worship, missions, education, and fellowship.

Our congregation has a favorite song entitled, “No Matter” by Roger P. Miller, which explains the deep-seated values of our open and accepting church:

 

Refrain

No matter who, no matter what, no matter where you are on the journey of life; you’re welcome, welcome in this place.

 

No matter who, no matter what, no matter where you are on the journey of life; accepted, welcomed by God’s grace.

 

Verses

1. For we are family, meant to be purposed for eternity. Born in love, from above, God’s community.

 

2. And in diversity, unity, harmony for all to see. Justice and equity, God’s community.

 

3. Together we will sing, worship bring, hands and hearts outstretched to all. Jesus praise, hearts ablaze, listen to God’s call.

 

4. The God who spoke through Christ, speaks to us; listen to our Savior’s call. Welcome home, welcome in, welcome on and all.

 

When you visit Saint Stephen’s, you will see the words of Jesus inscribed above the Communion Table, which read, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” We want Saint Stephen’s to be a sanctuary where you can find rest for your soul, forgiveness of your sins, assurance of your faith, and encouragement for your journey.

Beliefs

Our congregation is a member of the denomination called the United Church of Christ. Saint Stephen’s UCC is passionate in our impulse toward unity and living into the prayer Jesus prayed for his followers: “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).

 

Our Statement of Faith serves as a testimony to faith, not as a test of faith. It speaks to the promises of God, the teachings of Jesus, the work of the Spirit, and the call of the Church as a joyful act of worship, not as a legal document to create a litmus test for who’s in and who’s out. In essentials of faith there is unity; in non-essentials there is diversity; in all things there is charity. Our creed is love.

Statement of Faith

We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify:

 

God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image, and sets before us the ways of life and death.

 

God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.

 

God judges all humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.

 

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator.

 

God bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.

 

God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.

 

God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end.

 

Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto God. Amen.

Leadership

Through the dedication of our elected leaders, staff members, musicians, and volunteers, we are committed to modeling the ethics of Jesus, rendering grace-filled pastoral care, promoting justice and unity, nurturing relationships, and helping others seek, meet, and follow God.

Church Council

Hunter Woodard, President

Barb Frye, Vice President

Kathy Starick, Secretary

DD Dawson, Financial Secretary

John King, Member

James McHone, Treasurer

Trustees

Tom Dawson

David Frye

Jane Garber

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Rev. Craig A. Janney 

Pastor

Craig began his ministry with us in April 2020. He has over 20 years of ministry experience, serving in numerous ministry positions, including as pastor, campus minister, athletic chaplain, student minister, and music minister.

Rev. Janney received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Chowan University and a Master of Divinity from Gardner-Webb University. He is a certified church consultant, interim minister, and coach. Craig also serves as President of Greenfields Church Consulting.

Craig and his wife, Amy Snider, reside in Harrisonburg, Virginia. They have a daughter, Tinsley, and a dog, Zuma.

Maria Blair

Church Secretary

Maria began her service as church secretary in 2013 following her retirement as a school administrator. She grew up in Saint Stephen's and has served the church in many capacities - Council, committee chair, Sunday School teacher.  Presently, she serves as Treasurer of the Shenandoah Association and on the Board of Directors for the Central Atlantic Conference.

 

Maria graduated from Longwood College with a degree in sociology and history and earned her Master of Education degree in elementary education from Bowie State University. Ms. Blair has also received various credentials from the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and James Madison University.

 

Maria lives in Harrisonburg, but travels often to Georgia to spend time with her son and granddaughter.

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Sanctuary Choir

The Sanctuary Choir at Saint Stephen’s is a group of music performance students from James Madison University who lead hymns and perform anthems and solos in weekly services.

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Monica Slater

Monica Slater is a senior student of music and writing at James Madison University. She enjoys her job at the JMU writing center as a writing tutor and her job as the President of the JMU Opera Guild. As far as opera performance, she has most recently participated in Pirates of Penzance as Edith (JMU Opera Theatre), Dead Man Walking as Sister Catherine/ cover for Sister Rose (JMU Opera Theater), Cendrillon as Maguelonne (Stafford Opera Troupe), HMS Pinafore as Josephine (JMU Opera Theater), and Dido and Aeneas as Belinda (Stafford Opera Troupe). Monica has received first place in the classical category in Virginia NATS (2017), first place in the musical theater category in the Mid-Atlantic Region (2017), and the All-star award from Virginia Theater Association for her role “Jane” in Full Bloom. Last year Monica was chosen by the JMU Honors College to be a Hillcrest Scholar. Through the Hillcrest scholarship, she attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria in the summer of 2019. She also has a passion for singing in one of her native tongues, Portuguese, and is currently working on researching, translating, and preparing the one-woman Brazilian opera Domitilia by Joao Ripper.

Catie Brooks

Catie Brooks is a senior Vocal Performance and Music Theatre Music major here at JMU. She's performed numerous roles outside of JMU such as Despina in Cosi Fan Tutte at the Bethesda Summer Music Festival, and Lucille in Monsieur et Madame Denis by Offenbach in the Chicago Summer Opera Festival. Catie also appears frequently as part of JMU's opera chorus. Besides singing at St. Stephens', Catie also is a cantor at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic church back home, works as at a nearby preschool, and works as a freelance nanny. 

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Anastasia Ross - St. Stephen's Headshot.

Anastasia Ross

Anastasia is a senior at James Madison University, pursuing a Bachelor of Music with a concentration in Music-Theater. Her past performance credits include roles in Musical Theater, operetta and opera productions, both at JMU and outside of the Harrisonburg community. She spends her time in Harrisonburg teaching voice lessons to both high-school and college-aged students, taking advantage of any yoga or dance class available and filling her Sundays with music and fellowship at St. Stephens!

Andrew Magruder

Andrew Magruder is a Junior Music Industry Major at James Madison University. He has been playing the violin for 16 years and singing for 7 years. Andrew most recently had an internship this past summer with the Virginia Association of Broadcasters where he recorded news, sports, and weather for his local radio station. This coming semester he will be interning at Blue Sprocket Sound Music Studio in Harrisonburg. In the opera world at JMU, Andrew has participated in both spring semester shows of Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore. Locally, Andrew plays violin and guitar in a duo with his friend Sarah Zotian on piano. Andrew can also be seen performing in the JMU acapella group, The Overtones. His song performance of Haze on their most recent album was put on BOCA (Best Of College Acappella) for 2019. Outside of music, Andrew enjoys reading, hiking, and swimming.

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Kathleen Gibson

Choir Director

Kathleen Gibson, originally from Vienna, VA, is a senior vocal music major and music and human services minor at James Madison University. A member of the Newman Voice Studio, she has also sung with JMU's The Madison Singers, JMU Chorale, Treble Chamber Choir, and the University Women's Chorus. Her leadership positions have included the 2018 manager of the JMU Chorale and the 2017 soprano one section leader for the Treble Chamber Choir, and current music director of the Saint Stephens Choir! She has worked abroad in Rome as an au pair, where she took care of two young children and learned Italian, along with participating in the 2017 InterHarmony Music Festival in Aqui Terme. Her career plans include teaching music on multiple levels, with a special focus on elementary music education, as well as graduate studies in music. Kathleen loves working with the choir every week and creating beautiful music together. 

Megan O'Brien

Megan O’Brien is a senior vocal performance major and student in the Modern Foreign Language Department studying Italian. She works at the music library on campus and is president of the SNATS chapter at JMU. She's performed numerous roles at JMU including Siebel in Faust, Sister Lillianne in Dead Man Walking, and ensemble in HMS Pinafore, Pirates of Penzance, and Cosi fan Tutte. She is an active member in the choirs at JMU and has been a member of The Madison Singers since her junior year. She attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria in the summer of 2019 focusing on German Lied. Outside of music, Megan enjoys reading, working out, and watching old movies.

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Brayden Paitsel

Brayden Paitsel is a classical and contemporary singer in his sophomore year at James Madison University. In his schooling, he has performed numerous roles of musical theater, opera, and operetta repertoire. This most recently includes his roles as Valentin in Gounod's Faust and Major General Stanley in G&S's The Pirates of Penzance. In addition to his merit as a theatrical performer, he has also been awarded several honors by competitions in the greater Richmond area. Most notably at The Koste Classic and Menchville CoC where he has been recognized for Best Solo ('17, '18), Best Showman ('16, '17, '18), and Best Overall Male Performer ('18). He is also a local of Richmond, Virginia and when he isn't busy with the performances and papers of college, he enjoys spending his time with his family of 6 siblings and his dear friends. He is so excited to be joining the choir at St. Stephens and looks forward to the rest of his time with the church!

John Lopez

John Lopez is a sophomore vocal performance major at James Madison University. Singing has been his passion all his life, and he continues to enrich audiences with his romantic, charmed voice. He is in his eighth year of classical training, studying under Kevin McMillan, baritone, at JMU. John has been fortunate enough to participate in summer opera programs, such as the Washington National Opera Young Artists Program, and The Nightingale Opera Program. He has performed in operas at JMU as well, including Dead Man Walking as a gruesome inmate and Pirates of Penzance as lead, Samuel. John is excited to be part of the Saint Stephens Choir and can't wait to see what the future holds!

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For over 125 years, Saint Stephen’s UCC has been a mainstay in Harrisonburg.

As the gateway to downtown, Saint Stephen’s is a faithful congregation with an extravagant welcome! You can expect traditional worship, beautiful music, biblical preaching, and a generous orthodoxy from our church.

OUR VISION

United in Christ’s love,

a just world for all.

OUR MISSION

United in Spirit and

inspired by God’s grace,

we welcome all, love all,

and seek justice for all.

OUR PURPOSE

Love one another

as Christ loved us.