Upcoming Congregational Activities
Sunday, December 20: at the 10:30am service: Holy Baptism -Gretchen Strauss
Sunday, December 20: after the 10:30am service: Potluck and AWAKE art exhibit
Thursday, December 24: Christmas Eve Services
4:00pm Family-Oriented Service with Music
8:30pm Musical Prelude and Carol Singing
9:00pm Festive Eucharist with Music
Sunday, December 27: AWAKE, AWARE, and ALIVE will NOT meet
Wednesday, January 6: 6:30pm Epiphany Service
Sunday, January 17: 10:30am -African American Voices Gospel choir will provide music
Sunday, January 24: 10:30am -Illuminati (CGMC) will provide music
January 21-22: Trinity Institute: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice –St. Philip’s Columbus
Interim Rector Away
The Interim Rector will be on vacation from Dec. 25-31. If an emergency occurs, please call The Rev. Deacon Pam Elwell at 614- 736-1204. Pam will then get in touch with the priest on call that day. Sharing the on-call rota will be the Rev. Michael Jupin, the Rev. Bruce Smith, and the Rev. Karl Stevens.
Holiday Office Hours
The Parish Office will be closed on Thursday, December 24. The Office will also be closed December 29 through January 1. Meghan will check email and voicemail periodically during this time. In an emergency, during regular office hours (Monday-Thursday 9am-2pm) Meghan can be reached by calling the church number 614-294-3749 and pressing option 2, which will forward to her personal phone. If your (non-pastoral) emergency occurs outside of those hours, the Jr. Warden, Mike Harbin will be on call at 614-306-9160.
The big announcement this week is that Faith will be staying with us as Interim Rector through the end of March 2016 (through Easter). She will return to worship with us on the first Sunday in April (after Easter), so that we can have a retirement sendoff for her. She is making plans for her retirement, and will likely share her plans with us as they unfold. We’ll have supply clergy for a few months (April, May and beyond perhaps) until a new Rector can be called to join us.
The Vestry also voted on the final version of the search committee’s profile this week, and it has been sent to the diocese. There will be some announcements in early January if not sooner about how names may be submitted and about how interested candidates may apply for our Rector position.
And, check out the new St. Stephen’s website! We were able to keep our exisintg url, so visit us at ststephens-columbus.org to see the new design. I think it looks wonderful. Thanks to Edward Lasseigne for spearheading the effort, and for his great committee of Agnes Burris, Dale Harris, Joe Rutter, Russell Schelby and Norm Wernet who worked to make this happen. If you have suggestions for content, send them to me or Edward.
Cynthia Whitacre, Senior Warden
Ponderings of the Interim Rector
One of my favorite authors in spirituality these days is Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr. For this Thursday in Advent, Rohr offers the following meditation: What did you go out in the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? Luke 7:24
Where do we look? When will it come? We all tend to aim for the goal instead of the journey itself, but spiritually speaking, how we get there is where we arrive. The journey determines the final destination… Jesus warns people that they will be disappointed if they look to John as the ‘answer man in the desert’. If they look for simple answers they are looking for the wrong thing by looking for the whole thing right now. Jesus says that John is both the “greatest” and “the least” (Luke 7:28). The message is: yes, this is the kingdom, yet it is also not entirely the kingdom. Yes, it is here, but not totally here. It is there but not entirely there. The kingdom will never be a private ego possession of anyone. None of us is worthy, and in fact, worthiness is not even the issue. Only trust. No one can say “I have it”. It is always just enough to draw us deeper. Just enough of God to make us want more of God but God is always in the driver’s seat. “You have not chosen me, I am always choosing you.” (John 15:16). But thank God that John ends that passage by saying, “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Jn. 17:21). The Gospel reveals that life is always a mixed bag, but a good mixed bag. The kingdom does not admit of full observation here. Only in eternity are shadows resolved. Here we live in faith and trust in the in-between.” Then Rohr raises the question for us to ponder: “In what ways does your goal orientation keep you from the journey to the goal itself?
Advent is a time of waiting, of journey, of venturing into the unknown, holding onto the hope of experiencing God’s presence in our lives in a new and amazing way. May your journey be blessed.
AWAKE, AWARE, ALIVE
- The AWAKE True Potluck dinner is this Sunsay! What can you bring? Let us know! Or, email Jeff Watter. We will have cake to honor Gretchen Strauss ‘ baptism.
- AWAKE will be Janet McNaughton reading two Christmas / Advent books to our children.
- Reflecting on Refugees is our topic in AWARE. ……..aand how it reflects on us.
- AWAKE and AWARE will not meet on Sundays of December 27, or January 3. Both will resume on January 10.
Altar Guild Pre-Christmas Cleanup
A REMINDER that the Altar Guild will be cleaning silver and brass, and getting things ready for Christmas Services—the second session will be on Sat., Dec. 19th at 9:30am. IF you have not let Faith know which session you can attend, please contact her at email@example.com
You’re the greatest! Many, many thanks for your generosity to Neighborhood Services, Inc. We exceeded our goal of 500 boxes of potatoes by collecting 567 boxes. We also adopted 36 children for Christmas gifts. Besides the children adopted from the ornaments on the tree, we donated $650 that went for more gifts for NSI neighborhood children.
From the Finance Committee regarding YEAR – END CONTRIBUTIONS
Please make sure that any 2015 contributions are post marked on or before December 31st, placed in the offering plate on Sunday, December 27th , or hand-delivered to the church office by making arrangements with the Parish Administrator in advance.
The IRS requires that all pledges or donations collected on the first Sunday in January (whether they are intended for your 2015 OR 2016 pledge AND regardless of the check date) be reported as 2016 contributions for income tax purposes. If you have any questions about this, please contact Wayne Sheppard at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 614-928-9107.
Green the Church!
We ask that any of the congregation who can, bring greens from their yards. We will use them to decorate the main altar on Wed. afternoon, Dec 23rd, so any greens will be welcome before then.
Christmas Greenery Memorials
Memorial envelopes are available in the pews for donations to the Flower Fund. You are invited to submit names of those you would like remembered in our Christmas bulletins, with or without a monetary donation. Donations to the flower fund are used to fill out the Christmas greenery (and Easter flower) displays. The deadline for name submissions and donations is Monday, December 21.
Kenyan Crafts support JAM, Dec 13 and 20
For the next 2 weeks Kathy Sellers will be offering crafts from the HIV+ Widows and Orphans for purchase. Most of these crafts are handmade and support the HIV+ Widows and Orphans who are supported by JAM (Justice And Mercy Community Integrated Project), the organization in Western Kenya that I have been supporting since 2006.Many of you saw Kennedy Otieno, the Director of JAM preach this past summer. I have had the privilege of visiting many of these sites and seen firsthand both the difficult conditions in which they are living and more importantly their resilience and community spirit. Payment can be made by cash or check. -If you have questions, please speak to Kathy. Thank you for your support of the Widows and Orphans of Western Kenya
Save the Date
St. Stephen’s is Co-Sponsoring the Trinity Institute at St. Philip’s on Woodlawn Ave
January 21-23, 2016 Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice: Explore the more pressing issues of our time: structural racism, mass incarceration and policy change. Come with open ears and leave with a greater capacity go to back into your community and create change!
Book Club News: 2016 Plans
The first Book Club meeting of 2016 will be on Wednesday, January 13 starting at 6:30 PM at Kaethe Sandman/Pete Anderson’s home. As in 2015, Book Club will meet on the second Wednesday of each month in 2016, so mark your calendar for the year and plan to join in the fun! At the January meeting we will be planning books for the year. Each person attending is asked to suggest one or two book titles for book club discussion. The only 2 rules are 1) you must already have read the book you are recommending, so that you know it will provide a good basis for discussion, and 2) the book must either be available for purchase in paperback or available in large quantity of readily obtainable copies at the local library. All types of books, fiction and non-fiction, are welcome. Do plan to attend to help select the reading list for the year. Even if your book is not selected for book club discussion, it will go on a list of recommendations for the entire group.
For the January meeting, please kindly contact Kaethe in advance to let her know if you plan to attend. We will share a potluck dinner. You are invited to bring a main dish, side dish, bread, dessert or beverage to share. Everyone is welcome!
Reminder: If you’re mailing something to the church, especially time-sensitive materials, we recommend using the PO Box! St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, PO Box 82263
Columbus, OH 43202