Who We Are
Mission: We come together through Jesus Christ for spiritual growth in a loving community that reaches out to others.
St. Helena’s is a small, welcoming, supportive community in the Diocese of Chicago of The Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion of some 70 million members. To learn more about our parish leaders and our clergy, click here.
We have a small but wonderful choir. For more information, you may email our choirmaster, Jimmy Morehead.
We are committed to the baptismal ministry of all, wherein each member seeks to discern God’s call for service in the church and the world — and laity, not clergy, are at the center of the parish.
Our patron is St. Helena, mother of the 4th century Roman emperor Constantine. Although she was abandoned by her emperor husband, she rose again to prominence when her son took power. Helena was famous for her pilgrimages to the Holy Land and her patronage of great churches, including Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Tradition holds that she found the remnants of the True Cross. We look to Helena as an exemplar of courage, mission, and the struggle against great odds.
As a parish, we are strongly committed mission, to becoming Christ’s visible presence in the Church and in the world through mutual support of each other while reaching out to a world in need (see Who we serve). Compassion and community are our watchwords.
Our motto, “All welcome, always”, means that we accept and embrace all people regardless of race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or religious tradition (or lack thereof). We grow together as a community as we grow in faith; we may belong before we believe. Like our patron St. Helena, we do not fear the journey into uncharted territory with faith as our guide.
The Anglican Communion is composed of various autonomous national churches, including the Episcopal Church. Each member church (or province) is bound together by “bonds of affection” rather than a powerful hierarchy. Sometimes the bonds of affection are stressed over various doctrinal and moral issues, often because of cultural issues. There are more than 70 million Anglicans worldwide, ranking the communion behind Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christian in numbers.
The Anglican Communion traces its heritage to the Church of England, which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century during the reign of Henry VIII. Anglicans have roots both in the ancient and medieval Catholic tradition and in the Reformation and Protestant Tradition. We are often thought of as a “middle way” between the Roman Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations. There are more than 44 national churches (or provinces) in the Anglican Communion. Each is autonomous and reflects varying theological and cultural orientations. Such diversity sometimes leads to squabbling over issues such as, say, the ordination of women or gays and Lesbians in Europe and North American or the acceptance of prior polygamous marriages in Africa.
Though there is much theological variety in The Episcopal Church, we in general do not believe in the infallibility of the church hierarchy or the inerrancy of Scripture. We do believe, however, that God works through the Church and that Scripture is inspired. We tend to believe that science and religion, though sometimes in tension, both reveal much about the world God created.
Episcopalians are less interested in dogma than in the spiritual life, less interested in theology than in worship. Episcopalians often cite the ancient formula “the law of prayer is the law of belief” (lex orandi lex credendi). Simply put, as one prays and worships, so one believe and so one lives (lex vivendi). That is, both belief and behavior spring from devotion to God in the liturgy and in the spiritual life.
The Episcopal Church has a strong commitment to non-discrimination by race, culture, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. We ordain women to all clerical orders: deacon, priest, or bishop.
Some Episcopal parishes are Low Church, reflecting a more Protestant form of worship. Others are High Church or Anglo-Catholic, reflecting a more Catholic tradition. We at St. Helena’s are moderately High Church, using bells, incense, and special ceremony at important services such as All Saints, Christmas, or Easter.
The Diocese of Chicago comprises about 120 congregations and 41,000 people in northern Illinois from Indiana to Iowa. In the past, the diocese was once known as center of Anglo-Catholic worship and piety, where ceremonial was prominent. Today, churchmanship is more moderate but tiles toward the high. The diocese is progressive regarding its inclusion of women and gays in all levels of church life.
Importantly, Episcopal Charities and Community Services of Chicago embraces 12 partner agencies serving education, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, services to ex-offenders, food programs, and the like. The diocese also supports four campus ministries.