February 2020
Dear Sunday School Families,

The hustle and bustle of the holidays has abated.  The kids have been back to school and we are back in our usual routines.  It is such a blessing to St. Stephen's that you make church and Sunday School a part of your family's routine.  Not only do your children get to have fun while learning about the Bible and Christian discipleship, their presence reminds all of us that when all ages come together, God's presence is felt more fully and completely.  Being a place and people who welcome children and include them in worship and other activities is one of the best ways I know to express thanks to God for the gift of community and fellowship.

As you've heard me say before, especially since we instituted the Youth Sunday Service, it would be fabulous to have your children more involved in worship.  Obviously, the Children's Choir is one of the ways they can participate, as is ushering, both of which a number of our children do.  They can also read the lesson and lead the psalm and Prayers of the People.  Please talk to your kids, encourage them to consider trying one of these things.  I'll coach, if needed, and assure them their gift will be appreciated.  You might even tell them this true story: one of the very best lectors I have ever heard is a now 10-year-old girl, Victoria, who started to read when she was just eight.  I sent her the readings in advance so she had time to practice and literally stood next to her the first couple of times because she needed to stand on a stool in order to be tall enough.  Although she was a bit nervous at first, her confidence, both at church and elsewhere blossomed.  She became so confident she even read for the bishop!

Peace & Blessings,
Family Pages for This Month
For those weeks when getting to church and Sunday School is impossible, please take a few minutes to read the stories for the week with your children.  If you did not receive the Bible we have for your child, please ask.  I have them in the office.  

Here are the links to the Sparkhouse Digital "Family Pages."  If you are promoted to enter a password, it is "Sunday School".  The italicized pages are those that correspond to the lectionary for the Sunday.  

February 2nd -  The Lord's Prayer
January 19th - The Ten Commandments

Upcoming Events and Other News
February 9th is our Annual Meeting.  We'll have the 10:00 service in the fellowship hall with a Table Eucharist (like last year).  Greg will be with us and will lead the children in a child-friendly version of the discussion the adults will have during the homily time.  As we continue to focus on how to welcome people of all ages, including young families with children, it is so important that the children participate in this conversation.  

February 23rd is Youth Sunday with a special guest.  Anthony Briggs, Executive Director of Crossroads Camp and Retreat Center will be here to talk about youth retreats and summer camp, as well as the programs available to the rest of us.  A nice segue into the next bit of information...

Do you know about Crossroads?  It is truly a gem and one of the most important ministries in the diocese.  You can check them out here.  In addition to a wonderful summer camp (Ask Kathleen Toland about it while she's home. She worked there last summer and is hoping to work there again this year.), they have retreats for children grades 3-5 and 6-8.  This year the Elementary School Retreat is February 14-16th and the Middle School Retreat is March 13-15th or April 24th to 26th.  There is a small fee to attend but don't let that worry you.  If you need help with the fee, we'll be happy to help.

In addition to summer camp and retreats, Crossroads has an active role in the diocesan Pop-Up Youth Ministry, which is a youth group for kids in grades 6-12 from all across the diocese.  Activities and location vary month-to-month but all are a blast!  Because we are a small parish with not enough middle and high school age children to have our own youth group, this is a great option.  Rev. Paula would be happy to go to the March, May, or June events with any of our kids who are interested, knowing that this year there are only a couple old enough.  

Office Hours and Contact Information

Office hours are Tuesday thru Friday, 10:00 am to 1:30 pm or by appointment.
Phone: 973.376.0668  
Fax: 973.376.4002
Website: ststephensmillburn.org
Main email: church@ststephensmillburn.org
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Doreen Schindler, Parish Administrator can be reached at ext. 32 or

The Rev. Paula J. Toland, Rector can be reached at ext. 21 or 
She is an occasional blogger at fromthestillness.