Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
St. Stephen’s sees Micah 6:8 as a continuing core value in its history. We work to make the political and economic systems in which we live more just, while also extending a helping hand to those who need one. The community engages in social concerns in multiple mercy ministries and is a part of the metropolitan area justice ministry.
Neighborhood Services, Inc. (NSI)
NSI serves the neighborhoods surrounding The Ohio State University. For 50 years, churches in the University Area have combined resources to sustain NSI, which provides food, emergency help, back-to-school supplies and holiday packages for families in need. Homeless men, women and families are also provided specifically designed items, such as items that don’t require can openers or cooking. In addition to the food pantry, there is also a clothing room for people of all ages, from infants to adults (all clothes donated).
St. Stephen’s congregants are regular volunteers at the NSI resource center; supply specific monthly requests for food, household items, or clothing; and contribute monetary support. St Stephen’s in recent years facilitates and serves as the conduit for a major funding grant to NSI from the Diocese of Southern Ohio.
A “Clinking Quarters” program happens every Sunday when parishioners drop quarters with a clink into the collection plate. The quarters go into a fund which is distributed quarterly (how else!) to outreach ministries.
His Place Dinners
St. John’s Columbus serves a Wednesday evening meal to those in need in the Franklinton area, a historically neglected neighborhood. Churches of several denominations from all over the city take turns providing food and services for these meals, and St. Stephen’s members regularly take part in the program.
This ministry provides sack lunches to homeless individuals in Columbus. The Manna ministry has, since its inception, provided tens of thousands of sack lunches. Many churches and some elementary school classes in the University area participate in this program. People pack lunches once a month, usually in teams of two. Cost and schedule are up to the individuals.
Building Responsibility Equality And Dignity (BREAD)
The BREAD organization consists of 40 Columbus-area congregations, of different religious traditions. Each congregation believes something different – about the nature of God, the name of God, about what God wants us to do. Each shares a commitment to pursuing justice in God’s name. St. Stephen’s participates in BREAD as a social justice ministry to address systemic issues/problems in the Columbus metro area.
The St. Stephen’s BREAD Team and Justice Ministry Network organizes house meetings to discern issues of concern and build an organizing network to keep parishioners informed on BREAD’s progress. The Team and Network recruit participants to do the research work in defining the issues, finding solutions and meeting with decision makers on action plans.
They also work toward getting St. Stephen’s parishioners to participate in the Nehemiah Action, a mass gathering of congregations where the faith community brings current issues before those with the power to make change. St. Stephen’s participation in BREAD has helped bring about a change in the delivery of mental health services, the development of a land bank for abandoned housing, and a restorative justice program focused on stopping violent crime.
As BREAD: we listen to our community; we research the problems to identify workable solutions; we gather a large number of people, in order to show our power and get the attention of the decision-maker who can implement the solution we are asking for; we follow-up on the public commitments to address the problem and the implementing the solution requested.
The Holiday Project
The Holiday Project coordinates visitors to residents of institutions who do not get many visitors, particularly at the holidays. This is a national program, which has been operating in Columbus for more than ten years. At Christmas, parishioners of St. Stephen’s are invited to participate with others from the community to make visits at the Whetstone Care Center, Twin Valley Behavioral Center, and other facilities.