Diocesan Convention Update
Many thanks to your fabulous convention delegates: Carole Francis, Sue MacBeth, and Linda Soughan, as well as to alternate delegate Heloisa Rooney, for representing St. Stephen's so well. Please take a few minutes to ask them about their experience.
Convention took some action, as conventions do, all of it either unanimously or almost unanimously approved. (Their was one "nay" vote on one resolution.) There were resolutions to support transgender people and recognizing and ending domestic violence in our congregations, and moving diocesan convention toward a more digital future. There was the sad but needed resolution to finalize closure of The Church of the Holy Communion in Paterson, as well as the usual budget and clergy compensation actions.
St. Stephen's was visible on the four big screens twice! Our collaboration with Wyoming Presbyterian to have drumming at the MLK Day event in 2018 was a part of the "Mission Minutes" presentations. The Beckerath Organ Recital on February 10th was included in the announcements loop.
And there was the preaching! Our bishop is a wise and faithful women, with a profound simplicity to her faith and her preaching that makes the Gospel accessible and real. She moved the convention in a way that was extraordinary.
Please take a few minutes to check all of this our on the diocesan webpage.
The information about the resolutions is
. Please note this link includes resolutions from prior years, too.
Listening and Responding, a.k.a How will you use your gifts?
As we (the Vestry and Rev. Paula) said at the Annual Meeting, the conversations we had at our tables were both a continuation of the conversations that were part of the search and the next steps in our ongoing discernment of our shared ministry. St. Stephen's is such a spirit-filled place, gifted with so many faithful and faith-filled people that, as Fran Taber said, in this upcoming year, "the sky's the limit." The question for all of us is how will we listen and respond to God and commit to using the multitude of gifts we have been given to build up the Body of Christ to share God's love within our walls and beyond our borders?
Some thoughts, a.k.a. opportunities:
Within our walls:
We have vacancies in our elected leadership. This year we need to fill one position on the vestry, a position that has been open for many months. Please pray about whether or not now is your time to join this ministry. And know that, although we are still in a period of transition, there is no need to be daunted by the unusually challenging and demanding work done by the vestry last year. The search is over. The rectory and offices have been made ready for the rector and her family. We are now at a point when we can focus on the fun and exciting work of being Church. Talk to Maryalice Chech, Roger Riedel, Rev. Paula, or any of the vestry members: Fran Taber, Kira Hanson, Eugene Foley
Diocesan Convention is an annual event, which means we need three delegates and three alternate delegates for twelve months from now. If you have any interest in learning more about how we are connected to others in the diocese, what are some of the ways other people and parishes share their gifts, and are willing to represent St. Stephen's at next year's convention, this may be the ministry for you. Talk to Roger Riedel or Rev. Paula.
Our liturgical ministries (Altar Guild, ushers, lectors and chalicers, choirs counters) welcome new members. If you haven't taken the opportunity to explore how your faith and relationship with God would be enhanced by this kind of service, now is your chance. Talk to the coordinators: Julia Dorn and Theresa Scharff (Altar Guild), Roger Riedel (ushers), Barbara Riedel (lectors and chalicers), Kim Williams (Senior and Children's Choirs), and Felder Dorn (counters).
We want to have a conversation about Christian Education, beginning with how we "form" our children and youth in their understanding of faith and Church. An invitation from Rev. Paula has gone out to the three families we know are interested in this, though by no means should this conversation be limited to families with young children. As Bishop Hughes said at Convention, "Children are the future of the world." Let's talk about how we include them more actively in our life together and live into the Jesus' model of love of the youngest among us. Talk to Rev. Paula if you are interested in being a part of this conversation and ongoing ministry.
Our treasure is a gift. If you haven't done so already, please make a pledge to the financial support of our ministries. If you haven't thought about this, please consider planned giving, too, so that your financial support will continue long into the future.
Beyond our borders:
We remain committed to a number of outreach ministries, including Christine's Kitchen, North Porch, Drumming Camp, and IHN. As with our liturgical ministries, there is always room for more people to be involved. Talk to Deryck Rugbeer (Christine's Kitchen), Theresa Scharff (North Porch), Fran Taber (Drumming Camp), Margo Greenfield (IHN), or Rev. Paula.
Barnabas Health Hospice Services is looking for volunteers. Their call is to those with a "warm heart, listening ear, and the gift of compassion." Rev. Paula wants you to know that from her experience as a hospice chaplain, hospice volunteers make a profound difference in the life of patients and families. For more information: call 973.370.8130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IHN (Interfaith Hospitality Network, of which St. Stephen's is a founding member) is in need of Shop Rite cards valued at $25 or less. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find host congregations for homeless families. As a result, IHN sometimes provides families with the means to buy a meal or two worth of food this way.
Rev. Paula has started to venture out beyond the parish to get to know the community better and to meet new-to-her people. If there is someone you think she should get meet, please let her know. As the "church on Main Street" with the incredible gift of knowing "love begets love," being visible and connected is an essential element of faithful ministry.
If you have gifts you'd like to share in a ministry not mentioned here AND there are two or three others who share your interest AND tare willing to work with you and others to undertake this ministry, talk to Rev. Paula. She'll be happy to join your discernment.