A Message from Rev. Paula+
It's August, the month in which typically we are busier than busy getting ready for the program year. This year the busy-ness is an experience unto itself. Five months into the pandemic, with no clear end in sight, we are going about our business in ways that are simultaneously familiar and completely foreign. It seems a good time to give you a bit more information about where we are and what we expect going forward with worship, Children's Chapel, and the Preschool. We'll be staying online/virtual as we are now for Coffee Hour, Vestry, Finance Committee, and Adult Formation for the foreseeable future.
We are recording our Sunday service for broadcast on local cable access HTTV and viewing on Facebook and YouTube. We will be doing this for the next several weeks at least, based on two things: the trajectory of the virus and our readiness to return to in-person gatherings on a small scale. We have only limited control over the virus, though we can all do our part to love our neighbor by wearing masks and abiding by the physical distancing guidelines. The readiness question is ours to address and we are doing just that.
One of the realities of a sudden need to change the way you do things is that it brings into stark relief the state of your equipment and systems. Suffice it to say that we were not well-equipped to move out of our space and become an online/virtual community, either publicly or behind the scenes. We're consulting with an IT and networking specialist to help us assess out current resources and need, as well as to remedy the deficits we know we have and plan for a future that will include being a virtual community in whole or in part for at least the next couple of years. This process is taking a bit longer than we'd like because we are not the only church or business scurrying around to update IT and audio-visual systems.
We've known for a while that our internet capacity is a problem, because it is essentially the standard bandwidth for a small household, not a full-time parish with a full-time preschool and a pretty darn good security system, all housed in a fairly good sized, multi-story concrete block building. We've also known that we have no reliable internet connection in the nave (church-speak for where the congregation gathers to worship), which you found out in the first weeks of fasting from in-person gathering when we had technical glitch after technical glitch using Facebook Live and Zoom. We know we need to increase our bandwidth and add reliable access to the nave, so that is the first thing we are going to address.
A close second thing to address is the equipment we need to record and stream more easily and reliably. Thankfully, there are lots of good options, including a number within reach for us financially, none of which depend upon using my laptop or phone, supported by my very limited skills in video editing, as we've been doing since March. Although there is a lot we don't know about this virus and how it will play out, we do know that it will be months and months, if not years, before it will be safe enough for some people to join in-person gatherings. We are making plans to purchase the right equipment so that we can continue to record and stream our worship service so that those who can't join us in person are able to join in our worship. A blessing in this time is that we have so many members, near and far, able to join us for worship because it doesn't require getting here physically. We plan to continue to offer streaming even after it is safe for the majority of us to be back in church.
When we are ready to gather in-person, we will be strictly enforcing safety standards in accordance with the diocesan guidelines. Those guidelines are, in some cases, more stringent than the state guidelines for use of public space. This is one of the ways in which we show our love for each other - to exercise an abundance of caution when we are together
Children's Chapel, formerly Sunday School:
(If you'd like to know why this change, you can find out here.)
I shared this bittersweet news with the families with school-age children this week: Greg Chen was accepted into medical school in North Carolina, so won't be back with us this fall. Great news for Greg, for sure, even as it means some change for us. We'll be hiring someone to be lead teacher, though when we do that depends on how and when we get back to Children's Chapel. We have a few options for how to have Children's Chapel this program year, from in-person gathering when that's safe to fully online/virtual to a hybrid program. I've asked the families to complete a brief survey to help us better understand what would be preferred by them and we'll go from there.
St. Stephen's Preschool will be opening for students on September 1st, which means we can call the staff back from furlough on August 31st! The Preschool will be operating with strict safety guidelines, which impact our shared use of the building. This means that access to the building will be limited to teachers, students, and staff when the children are present. In addition, when we are back to worship in the nave, the office/preschool wing will be off-limits except to staff and a few others who need access to the office for their ministries.
As hard as this has been at times and, no doubt, will continue to be, I am so grateful to be on this journey with all of you. I'm grateful, too, to the Vestry and Finance Committee who have been meeting every two weeks (sometimes more frequently) so that we can stay on top of those things within our control. Grateful as always to God and for the presence of the Holy Spirit working in and through all of us in these truly unprecedented times. We are doing this. We're living our faith. We're doing it together. We have each other. We have God. And, most importantly, God has us.
Peace & Blessings,
Mark Your Calendar - The Bishop is Coming!
Bishop Hughes will be visiting us on September 13th at 10:00am. This will be a service streamed via Zoom, using the format she is using for all visitations. There will be more information to come but, for now, mark your calendars for the service at 10:00 followed by a Coffee Hour and then time for the Bishop to talk to the Vestry.
Connection and Common Worship
All of the information you need to remain actively connected to St. Stephen's can be found on the website under the "Living Our Faith in a Time of Pandemic" tab on the top left. In addition, the ways to join in worship and other activities is also available on the Events Calendar on the website, under News & Events. Our worship services will be posted to Facebook
every Sunday morning at 8 AM and will be available on our YouTube channel
. The services can be watched at any time.
Our Sunday worship service is also broadcast on HTTV (Comcast TV 36 and Verizon TV 33) at 6 AM and 1 PM. Please be sure to spread the word to your friends and family who do not use the internet.
Audio recordings of the homilies are found here.
The bulletins can be found here.
FYI - St. Stephen's is on Facebook EVERY DAY! Join us, and tell your friends and family! Posts include daily prayer, Sunday worship, Children's Chapel on Saturday, and Children's Storytime with Rev. Paula. Beginning July 29th, daily prayer is at 8:30 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, it is at 7:45 pm. Most days, Rev. Paula will lead prayer live, though occasionally it will be a "Prayerful Interlude" or a recorded reflection.
Videos of all the posts can easily be accessed from the Facebook video library right here
NEW!! Bishop Hughes' August 5th Vlog can be seen here. The Voice Online
may be found here.
Bishop Hughes' pastoral letter on the guidelines for in-person worship
in the Diocese of Newark can be found here
To read Bishop Hughes' Covid-19 guidelines, as well as other news from around the diocese, look here.
Share Your Prayers
Bishop Hughes invites all of us to do something that might be a first for us - to write down our prayers during this pandemic and share them with the diocese, as a way to help each other. The prayers will be shared on the diocesan website in The VOICE and on social media. Prayers can be sent to Canon Wright at email@example.com for posting. Please include the name and town of your church.
Diocesan Memorial Wall
A holy place in virtual space for mourning and memory.
This is a place to gather, grieve, reflect and honor the lives of those who have died during the time of the Pandemic, whether or not it was due to the virus. Because we have been isolated, and unable to be with each other to provide comfort, care and support during this time, we offer this site as an ongoing memorial, gathering the names of the dead so that they are not forgotten.
Here, we who mourn can cast our tears into God's almighty and loving hands, whose own tears join ours, bringing us consolation, peace and hope. To visit the wall and/or submit a name, click here.
In this time of national upheaval, outrage, and fear, The Episcopal Church's Department of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care and the Office of Government Relations have assembled resources to assist individuals, congregations and communities seeking to LEARN, PRAY and ACT.
Please use and share these resources, and send your own resources and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find the link to current resources here.
Read Presiding Bishop Curry's Word to the Church here.
THE RED RIBBON PROJECT AT ST. STEPHEN'S
If you happen to be driving or walking by the church, you'll see a simple way to show support for racial justice. Stop and tie a red ribbon on the fence, joining with others in the community who have already done so. (Ribbons are provided.)
While this will not result in a tangible change, it might just encourage someone else's change of heart, which is the first step to the kind of change that can literally change the world.
| UPDATE!! Cross Roads Wednesdays Away: Summer Edition
Wednesday, August 5 at 10 AM - Desert Flowers Led by Laurie Matarazzo
Some of the most tenacious plants are those that grow in challenging environments. Whenever we find ourselves in the midst of our challenging environment, let's find the beauty and goodness that God continues to provide for our strength, for our faith, for our lives.
This Zoom gathering is open to all people interested in deepening their spiritual life this summer. This time together will include prayer and conversation led by a spiritual director. The cost is $10 per gathering and the Zoom link will be sent via email in advance of the gathering. Please visit the link here
St. Stephen's Coffee Hour!
Sundays at 11 AM
Watch the service at 10 AM, grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and join the fun. We'll be around from 11 to noon.
by 10:45 AM that morning to request the login information. Don't be surprised to find yourself in a waiting room. Barbara Riedel or Rev. Paula will let you in.
Youth & Teen Resources and Events
CROSS ROADS CAMP & RETREAT CENTER
Our friends at Cross Roads Camp & Retreat Center are providing activities for kids and teens including art projects, virtual camp-fires and more!
For all the details, follow the Cross Roads Facebook page here
and follow them on Instagram @crossroads.camp.
NEW!! SUMMER CAMP BOXES
As the week-long camp programs come to an end, Cross Roads is excited to announce that CAMP BOXES are now for sale! Each camp box comes with materials to do multiple camp activities at home, as well as exclusive access to additional videos, some camp swag, and Bible study resources. You can get details and purchase a Cross Roads camp box here
FOOD PANTRIES ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF FOOD!
Thank you to all who have dropped off donations already! Please keep the contributions coming -
and remember to check the expiration dates before sending your items.
1. Apostles' House Food Barrel - A weather-proof collection bin is located at St. Stephen's outside under the roof of the Narthex parking lot entry door. Canned goods and non-perishable food items can be dropped off at any time and will be delivered to Apostles' House.
2. North Porch Women & Infants' Centers - A second collection bin for North Porch is located at the same door. Right now they are in urgent need of the following:
- Enfamil 12.5 oz powdered baby formula and soy formula, and Enfamil infant (yellow label) 21.1 oz
- Diapers especially Large sizes - 4, 5, 6, and Pull-ups of all sizes
- Baby wipes
- Jars of baby food - all ages- fruit, veggie and 1st foods
3. Online Ordering/Donations - If you are unable to drop off items at the church, and would like to contribute, you can make purchases and/or donations online directly to these organizations. PLEASE NOTE: North Porch prefers you use their AmazonSmile link for direct product donations.
North Porch Women and Infant Centers
North Porch Amazon Smile direct link:
The Apostles' House Food Pantry link:
Christine's Kitchen, Holy Trinity Church, West Orange
St. Stephen's will be hosting Christine's Kitchen again on August 15th.
Yes, folks, it's that time again! Full service at the kitchen is still on hold so it is still LUNCH-TO-GO.
Please reply to Deryck with the type and number of lunches you will be donating. You can also do hot lunches but this might require you to come to the kitchen to prepare each lunch on request.
Lunches can be dropped off at Deryck's home at 44 South Pierson Road Maplewood NJ before 10:30am on 8/15.
Here are the requirements for the contents of the lunch bags:
- Sandwich - type labeled on the bag, or hot food in plastic container
- Dessert - use your judgement, probably should be bagged separately if messy
- Fruit - if wet like watermelon, you will need to put it in a plastic bag
- Drink - can of soda, iced tea or plastic water bottle, try to avoid glass
- We can add whatever else we want, granola bar, etc.
Deryck recommends 10 to 15 of the above lunches per volunteer in order to make the 125 lunches that is the current ask from the soup kitchen staff.
Flexibility: No need to commit to all items above if for instance you can only do drinks and not sandwiches, we can fill in the gaps and take care of the bagging too if needed.
Please see the guidance below from the soup kitchen for the lunches to go.
Guidelines for SANDWICH lunches to go:
- In each lunch, there should be a sandwich, a fruit, a granola bar, a dessert, and a drink.
- There should be at least three types of sandwiches from your host group (e.g. roast beef, turkey, ham, Italian, corned beef, tuna, chicken salad, veggie wrap, falafel - you decide. NO peanut butter & jelly).
- Label each bag with the type of sandwich. Group the sandwiches by type.
- Deliver them to Holy Trinity between 11am and 11:15am on Saturday.
- If some of your group want to stay, they are welcome, or you can drop off the food and go. Holy Trinity volunteers will be available to set up, hand out lunches and clean up.
Guidelines for HOT lunches to go:
- Arrive with cooked food and takeout containers at Holy Trinity between 11am and 11:15am on Saturday.
- Please have at least four volunteers who will be staying until 1:15pm.
- You may use the kitchen to keep food warm and to assemble the lunches into takeout containers.
- Holy Trinity volunteers will hand out the lunches at the Franklin Street door.
(The "hot lunch" guidelines assume that the food needs to be heated and served. If it's packed and ready to go, you can drop it off like the bagged lunches).
or call 201-452-9068
Resources from the Diocese and Beyond
|There are many, many resources available to parishes and individuals to help sustain our faith practices during this unprecedented time. This is by no means a complete list, though it does cover many areas of need.|
NEW!!! Faith@Home, a ministry of Forward Movement Publications and Forma, a ministry of the Episcopal Church Foundation, offers weekly lectionary-based readings and reflections for all age groups. You'll find those resources here.
The Diocese of Newark has a page dedicated to pastoral messages, informational updates and directives, and resources for use by parishes and people of faith. You'll find it here.
The Episcopal Church, nationally and internationally, has information on its website, including pastoral messages from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry. You'll find it here.
The National Cathedral livestreams worship and hosts podcasts, all of which can be accessed here.
The Church Publishing Group has made available a free downloadable copy ofThe Book of Common Prayer. This is a wonderful way to encourage both a personal prayer discipline and as a support to online worship in which the liturgy is from the BCP.
Now might be the right time to sign up for a daily, weekly, or monthly devotion. A couple of our favorites are:
- The Society of St. John the Evangelist. The brothers offer wisdom in many ways so please do explore their website.
- The Center for Action and Contemplation, home of Richard Rohr. As with SSJE, this is a rich offering of resources so it is best to explore the website.
St. Stephen's Prayer List
Please keep the following St. Stephen's family members and friends in your prayers...
The McManus Family
The Blanchard Family
Bernard & Nathan
The Fitzgerald Family
Sara Ruth Dorn
Links to the Wider Church
|Giving with Tithe.ly is easy, with options for one-time or recurring donations. We encourage you to consider it at all times, but especially when you are away for any reason, like all of us now with the restrictions due to coronavirus.
There are two ways to do it: thru tithe.ly.com or the tithe.ly app on your smart phone. You'll want to search for St. Stephen's Church Millburn. Be sure to have the correct punctuation. You'll know you're there when you see: St. Stephen's Church Millburn and the address. Once you're at the church's page, follow the prompts.
Office Hours and Contact Information
Office hours: Until we are through this public health emergency, there are NO office hours. Please call Rev. Paula to arrange for pastoral care or if you have any reason to come to the office. She'll work with you to figure out a safe way to manage this.
Main email: email@example.com
Doreen Schindler, Parish Administrator can be reached at ext. 32 or
The Rev. Paula J. Toland, Rector can be reached at ext. 21 or