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Pancakes & Ashes


Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, Lenten activity stations, and worship service.

Donations will be accepted to benefit the Youth Summer Mission Trips

Schedule of Activities:

  • 5:30 pm – 7 pm: Pancake Supper, hosted by youth in Fellowship Hall
  • 6 pm – 7 pm: Lent stations, activities, devotions & crafts for all ages to help us focus more fully on following Jesus during the Lenten season
  • 7 pm – 7:30 pm: Worship service, featuring youth band in the Sanctuary

No Need To RSVP
All are welcome!
Please stop by any time during the event – and stay for some or all of the activities!

Child care is available in the Nursery during the event.


What is Shrove or Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)?  The day before Lent begins is known as Shrove Tuesday.  For those who practice fasting during the season of Lent, all tempting foods are used up in a great feast (eggs, butter, sugar, meat) prior to Ash Wednesday.  In our church, we serve pancakes to remember this tradition.

What is Lent?  Lent is a Christian season 40 days (excluding Sundays) prior to Easter.  Lent is observed in several Christian denominations with a variety of traditions, all with the focus of prayer and preparation for Easter.

What is Ash Wednesday?  Ash Wednesday is the first day of the forty-day Lenten period.  It gets its name from the practice of rubbing ashes on your forehead.  At our service, everyone is invited to come forward to receive the ashes.  One of the pastors will smudge the ashes in a cross on your forehead.  You are invited to participate, but it is NOT required.

How much does this event cost?  Pancakes & Ashes is a free event.  For the Pancake Supper hosted by the Youth Ministry, a free-will donation is accepted.  All donations will go towards Youth Summer Mission Trips.  The Lenten activity stations are also free.

What ages are allowed? All ages are invited and allowed at this event. You are invited to stay for as short and as long as you want. Our church offers childcare for major events, including this one. However, we hope you’ll stay together as a family and enjoy the activities. Children are definitely a welcome part of our church experience.

Is there stuff planned for kids? Yes. In fact, all of our activities are designed to be experienced as a household. We have crafts which can take as little or as much time as you’d like, and plenty to take home with you to finish and enjoy later. Specifically, families will be able to assemble Lenten centerpieces to take home, eat pancakes, play board games, and much more!  The supper is served from 5:30-7:00pm.  The stations are open from 6:00-6:55pm.  The 7:00pm worship service is especially designed for children to understand and participate.

Do I have to be a member of the church to attend? No. This is a chance for us to share with our community a part of our church’s culture. You do not have to be a member to attend.

Do I have to be a Christian to attend? No. This is a chance for us to share with our community a part of our culture. You will not be asked to join the church or proselytized to. We intend this to be a gift given to all, without price or expectation.

Is there food? Yes. We will have a Pancake Supper with pancakes, sausage and juice, free for all. A free-will donation will be accepted to support Youth Summer Mission Trips.

What time should we arrive? You may arrive any time between 5:30pm and 7:00pm.  Please come when you can and stay for any or all of the activities. The Pancake Supper will be served during this time. Craft and activity stations will be open from 6:00-6:55pm. If you visit every station, it should take you about 45 minutes to enjoy.  At 7:00pm there is a 30-minute family worship service featuring the Youth Band.  Part of the service will include a Bible story and the imposition of ashes. 

What is there to do at Pancakes & Ashes? A lot! The main event is a Pancake Supper.  We’ll have a variety of stations for you to visit during your time. Stations include a Lenten centerpiece station where you may make your own candle centerpiece (all contents provided for free), a family board game room, and several other hands-on-activity stations for exploring the practice of fasting during Lent. You can also help us make tissue paper flowers to prepare for Easter.  After 7:00pm, there is a short worship service.

Why is Lent 40 days?  The number 40 is found several times in the Bible– it rained 40 days and nights during the flood, the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying, and was tempted, at the start of His earthly ministry.  The Lenten season mirrors these Biblical stories.

So, why ashes and where do they come from?  Ashes are a symbol of our temporary earthly bodies, which will one day decompose.  Ashes also connect us with the ancient practice of heaping ashes of your head as a sign of your repentance.  Our church tradition is to save the palm branches from Palm Sunday and burn them the following year for Ash Wednesday.  You are invited to participate, NOT required. 

What is fasting?  Fasting is a Biblical principle that we find in both the Old and New Testaments.  The references to fasting in the Bible present a time period of prayer during which one abstained from food.   Often we hear people say, “I’m giving up _____ for Lent.”  Lent is a personal time of self-reflection.  Some choose to fast from a certain food item (ex. coffee or chocolate), while others in the spirit of fasting, choose to restrict their activities (ex. digital fasting).  Fasting is an opportunity for you to get closer to God. It is a means to empty yourself of your desires, opening yourself to God.

Get Thinking about Lent

Will I give something up this year?  What does the Bible say about fasting?  How does fasting work with kids?  This year’s Lenten stations at Pancakes & Ashes focus on fasting.  To get you thinking ahead, check out these resources on fasting, and find ideas of how you can practice Lent with your family this year.

UMC Video about Fasting

UMC: On Lent, prayer and fasting

UMC: What do we believe about fasting?

Focus on Fasting with Kids in Mind

Valentine’s Day Dinner & Dance

Mark your calendars for Saturday February 16! The United Methodist Men are throwing a Valentine’s party! Gathering at 6:00, Buffet Dinner at 6:15, Dancing 7:00 to 9:00! Our DJ will play a mix of music! Cost is just $20 per person. Couples, single and children over 10 are welcome. Tickets will be on sale in the Gathering Place after each service today, January 27, February 3 and February 10! See Gene Pettit, Ken Bryant, Jerry Tussing, Dan Watkins, Jay Evans, Chuck Smith, or call Chuck at 703-451-3957. PARENTS come have an evening out! Childcare available: Nursery for under age 5 and Candy Crush Fun & Games for ages 4-6th grade.

The Children’s Ministry invites kids ages 4-6th grade to join us for an evening of fun and fellowship on Saturday, February 16, from 6-8:30pm. We’ll have dinner, games, crafts, activities, and treats in the Fireside Room, while parents connect and enjoy dinner & dancing at the Valentine’s Dance in the Fellowship Hall. Nursery will be available for younger children.

Let It Bowl: January Lock In

Alexandria-Arlington District Youth Bowling Lock-In

January 25 – January 26 11:00 PM – 7:00 AM

We’re joining other NOVA UMC youth groups for this event!

The evening begins with a rally at Friendship UMC (Falls Church) and is followed by all-night Cosmic bowling at Falls Church Bowl America.

Bring $35 for bowling and snacks to share at the Rally!

Registration fee covers shoe rental, one slice of pizza, one 16 ounce drink, and of course, unlimited bowling all night! Kids might want to bring additional funds to cover other food and/or video games.


Rally location: Friendship UMC– 3527 Gallows Rd, Falls Church VA

Bowling lock-in location: Falls Church Bowl America – 140 South Maple Ave, Falls Church

Students may bring their own snacks for the bowling alley and sleeping bags/bedding if they know they will try to sleep.

REGISTRATION DUE BY 1/20/19 so we can arrange rides.

Youth Mission Trip Application

mission trip sign up
For over 20 years our Youth Ministry has sent teenagers out each summer to serve their neighbor and put their growing faith into action.

This summer we have not one, not two, but three Mission Trips!

Our 7th and 8th Graders will go to Winchester, Virginia with the Jeremiah Project from July 14-20.

Our 9th-12th Graders get to choose between two trips, both from June 23-29.

1: A Jeremiah Project trip to Jonesville, VA

2: An Appalachian Service Project trip, location to be determined.

Want to learn more? Download our flyer!

Questions? Ask Pastor Drew.

Register Using the Form Below
Registration Closes January 27!

August 5, 2018

Pastor Jiyeon – The God of the Impossible

August 5, 2018 from St. Stephens UMC on Vimeo.

Theatre Arts Camp – Believe

August 5, 2018 from St. Stephens UMC on Vimeo.

Mark 10:25-27

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ They were greatly astounded and said to one another, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Youth Fall Retreat


A weekend away at new (to us) retreat site at Camp Highroad, to enjoy some outdoors, games, rest, relaxation, great food, and time relaxing and learning about God.

What’s this year’s theme?

It’s all about camping and glamping. This year, if you want, you get to sleep in a tent! We’ll also have campfires, some hiking, and general autumnal fun. Think flannel, flire, boots, and glitter. Our activities will include stuff for folks who like camping, and folks who’d rather “glamp” without having to get too in-tune with nature.

What will we be doing:

Remembering stories from the Bible about when God’s people had to live outside and in tents! Also high ropes elements, low ropes, fire, camp crafts, boating, sleeping in, free t-shirts, and more!


Leaving Saturday November 3 in the morning.
Returning Monday November 5 in the afternoon. (you have Monday and Tuesday off of school)


Camp Highroad Pine Lodge, Middleburg, VA


Youth 7th – 12th grade


$125 for the retreat (partial and full financial aid available)

Sign Up Below! 

(May Take a Moment to Load)

Car Wash

What better way to get the pollen cleaned off your car, while also supporting our youth summer mission trips? Saturday, May 4, 9:00 am – 12:00 noon in the church parking lot. Come hungry for tasty treats from the bake sale. Free will donations accepted.

High School Urban Immersion 2016

urban immersion 2016


This event is a combination service trip, field trip, and sight-seeing tour of Washington, DC.

Our summer mission trips take you to rural Appalachia, but we want our students to know that the church is called to our local city too! We’ll spend a few days working through Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP) to serve, learn, and experience life in our nation’s capital while living in Christian community.


This is designed as an adventure for High Schoolers only. You won’t regret it.

Our April trip was a Major Success! Check out the pictures!


FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are we staying in the city overnight? Yes.

Where? We usually stay at National City Christian Church (5 Thomas Circle NW).

Where are we sleeping? In beds, but you’ll need to bring twin sheets or a sleeping bag.

Are there showers? Yup! You’ll be able to not stink!

What are we going to be doing? We’ll do lots of stuff, including lots of service with our poor and homeless neighbors in DC, but we have four primary objectives:

  1. Education about the nature and causes of urban poverty.
  2. Experience working to alleviate suffering of the poor. 
  3. Experience living together in simplicity.
  4. See some of the sites of our Nation’s Capital.

Can I come late or leave early? Our preference is that you commit to the entire experience. Even if it means you miss other important things.

Will there be forms and other details? Yes there will. When you reserve your spot, you’ll get more details as they become available.

Will you need chaperones? Yes. Please reserve a spot next year as an adult to participate as a chaperone!

What does our Youth Ministry teach about Sex?

St. Stephen’s wants to partner with families to raise great kids. RELATIONSHIPS is a weekend seminar designed to help parents and students talk about love, sex, and relationships. This is based on the assumption that if the church can help kids and parents talk about this, then they will be able to talk about just about anything.

RELATIONSHIPS is for 9th-12th graders and their parents or guardians.

The next event for Middle Schoolers will be in 2018!  Take a look below at the curriculum.


What is it?

  • A weekend event for young people and their parents
  • A celebration of the wonder of sexuality & being created in God’s image
  • A challenge to use God’s gift of sexuality wisely
  • An opportunity to learn and grow closer as a family in a relaxed, fun atmosphere

It is a communication seminar on the topic of human sexuality—believing that if families can talk openly about sexuality, that may open the door to talk openly about a host of other subjects.

We begin from the perspective that our sexuality is a good gift from God and should be celebrated!  We were created as sexual beings on purpose as a part of God’s plan.  The course goes on to explore what it means to be a good steward of the marvelous gift of our sexuality that God has given us.


How does it work?

Melany Burrill, a, experienced, trained, certified sexuality educator, leads participants in a teaching-learning event that utilizes:

  • games
  • discussions
  • a variety of learning experiences
  • adult volunteers from your church
  • a mixture of small group and large group activities
  • parents and youth in separate groups AND together

All courses:

  • explore issues of sexuality in a relaxed, open, fun, Christian atmosphere
  • help youth discover the values held by parents, other youth, themselves, and the Christian faith concerning sexual decision making
  • have ample opportunities to get their factual questions about sexuality answered


What does it cover?

It is a comprehensive sexuality education seminar that covers:
  • human growth and development
  • contraception – including abstinence
  • parent/child communication
  • resources we have as Christians to deal with sexuality
  • sexual orientation & gender identity
  • physical changes of puberty
  • self esteem
  • decision-making
  • love and intimacy
  • reproductive health
The event explores:
  • facts
  • feelings
  • attitudes
  • values
  • beliefs
  • information

Is there a high school version?

Yes! It’s called “Relationships” and it will be offered in 2017.

What do participants say about this course?

The opportunities for youth to talk openly and frankly with other youth and the chance for parents to dialogue with other parents are often cited in evaluations as strong points of the weekend.  Another big plus of the seminar approach is the just plain fun of participating together with other families from your church!

Here’s what youth have said about the weekend:

  • I liked the total openness with both teens and adults. Nothing was taboo.
  • I liked meeting new people, discovering responsibilities, and learning about myself while having a real good time.
  • I liked the openness. Every activity that we did was fun and informative.
  • I learned a lot about contraceptives and words I didn’t know. I learned a lot about other peoples’ beliefs and morals.


These programs are a process

We know that people grow in faith through experience and reflection not just facts and information poured into the developing Christian.  As human beings we are complex.  The facts about sex and sexuality are the easy part—but who we are as sexual beings includes the whole complexity of our biology, our emotions, our interpersonal relationships, our spiritual selves…

Taking all this into account, these events provide a variety of learning activities that build skills and present opportunities for participants to examine, strengthen, and articulate their values and beliefs as Christians.   United Methodists use the Bible and our Social Principles as foundations for belief; reason, tradition, and experience also play important roles.


These programs are abstinence-based.  The value of sexual abstinence is woven throughout.  But that does not mean that we avoid discussions of contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, masturbation or other difficult topics.  These topics are approached from the angles of 1) What are the facts and  2) How can we best be good stewards of God’s gift of our sexuality.


These events do not produce young Christians who recite answers to life’s difficult questions.  But rather, they are designed to equip young Christians with skills of moral decision-making that will last a lifetime, growing as they grow.  The goal is to empower young people to face life’s challenges, certain of God’s never-ending love for them, knowing their parents’ beliefs and values, with critical thinking skills and the ability to discern for themselves what path God would want for them.


Meet the Facilitator: Melany Burrill, a self-proclaimed “genetic United Methodist,”  has been teaching sexuality education for young people and their parents in churches for more than 25 years.  She has a master’s degree in Religious Education from Wesley Seminary and served a local church as Education Director for 16 years. She is the author of the book All God’s Children — Teaching Children about Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity as well as a curriculum for churches.