We have just completed our first month together and I am excited. We have had some fun with the liturgical snafus, mostly at my doing. We have begun to discuss the future of St. Stephen’s. We have turned from focusing on the financial situation which we all know is difficult. We are beginning to think about things in front of us. We are slowly letting go of our great past, embracing it for all of its glory and excitement, while we begin to focus our energies on the path before us. Our past is the basis of our future, but we can not go back. That is just not possible. We can not live in the past because that means living among the dead.
St. Stephen’s is called to look forward to where Christ is calling us, to new life, and to muster all of our plentiful resources to go where we are called.
Yes, change is difficult. Yes change is hard because it means letting go of what we know. It means leaving comfortable ways of doing things behind. It means going to somewhere we are not sure of, and know little, if anything about. But, if we truly believe that God is calling us out to a new place, then we need to let our fears fall away.
That does not mean there will not be bumps in the road or wrong turns taken. Missteps are a given. After all we are human. The good news is God will put us back on track, as long as we stay united and focused upon God and serve each other as well as those we are called to serve.
We are a great church, and I believe as many of you do, that with God at our side we can do anything. We can become a major presence of God’s love here in downtown McKeesport and the surrounding areas.
We have begun to change. We have begun new ministries and are looking to strengthen some old ones. Look at the small changes in the first month:
The Voice of Vision Outreach Ministries is now sharing our sanctuary beginning the first Sunday in October after 1:30pm.
We have a new intern, Kim Karashin, and she is already actively preparing training courses for Lay Eucharistic Visitors, who take communion from one of our Sunday services to parishioners who can not be with us. This is an important ministry of the parish; and Ministers of Communion – they are at the altar on Sunday and serve the bread and the wine during communion.
Pray – are you called to one of these wonderful ministries?
The training session for Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Ministers of Communion is set for December 5th from 10am until 12 pm. Come join us. Join the joy of serving the sacrament to others.
Kim is also working on a training for those who are called to be pastoral care people for the parish. This training will be done in January, after the holidays.
Lani is working on a new format for our stewardship campaign which focuses upon why St. Stephen’s has been important in each of our lives. We hope this will heip each of us understand why St. Stephen’s must thrive so others can experience the grace and love that flows from this great parish.
As we move forward there will be more changes. Some will be easy and obvious, and some more difficult and harder to adjust to. But if we work together, if we listen to each other, and focus on serving Christ as Christ served us, we can all make the changes required to move St. Stephen’s in a new and exciting direction.
As Christians we are a people who believe in new life. We believe in the resurrection. We believe that God will lead us, as he did the Israelites, away from a difficult past, through the desert and to the Promised Land. Let us hold to these beliefs, and let us hold to the promises made to us by our Lord and Savior. Then we will thrive again and create a great future for this great parish.
Your Servant in Christ,
The Rev. Ted Babcock