23 Mar

Newsletter, March 23

Reverend Sheelagh’s Thought for the Week: March 23, 2016


Easter is early this year, not quite the earliest which would be March 22 and is extremely rare, but it is pretty early.  It’s a snowdrop Easter.  As the earth stirs and the creation begins to put forth new growth, we too look to new life in our ministry together.  Notice how the darkness of the rock highlights the fresh growth of the snowdrops.  Holy Week provides that contrast.  Join us if you can, when you can, to enter in real time the last days of Christ’s life on earth.  Out of that darkness comes the light.

Easter is full of hope and joy.  It is a triumphal celebration over the power of sin and death.  Yes it is about the promise of the resurrection and our salvation, but more immediately it is about the everyday moments of new life and joy in the here and now.  Let’s not waste them.  Let’s rejoice that we are alive!  And that Jesus lives and the tomb is empty.

The rector, vestry and staff of St Stephen’s wish you all peace this Holy Week and Easter weekend.


Mar 23, Wednesday7pm-9pmSacred Art Workshop
Mar 24, Thursday6:30pm-9:30pmMaundy Thursday Supper & Service
Mar 25, Friday10am-11am
Good Friday Childrens Service
Good Friday Service
Good Friday Evening Service
Mar 26, Saturday9:30am-10:30amSenior Choir Rehearsal
March 27, Sunday10amFestive Holy Eucharist with Trumpets and Choir
March 27, Sunday11:30amAnnual Easter Egg Hunt on the Parish Lawn

Serving at the Altar 3/24, 25, 27 & 4/3

Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Easter Sunday
8pm Readers:
1. F. Taber
2. N. Sieffert
12pm Readers:
1. D. Cole
2. J. James
8am Reader:
C. Francis
8am Reader:
A. Walker
8pm Readers:
1. S. Clarke
2. S. Polanco
10am Readers:
1. K. Hanson
2. J. Herry
3. C. Ehlers
10am Readers
1. F. Dorn
2. E. Pluta
3. O. Owolabi
Chalicist: J. SoughanChalicist: J. Scharff
R. & B. Riedel
B. Riedel &
MaryAlice Chech
Coffee Hour:
S. Dinan, C. Francis, The Dorn Family,
S. Holt, S. Macbeth & J. Pauly
Coffee Hour: Open

Vestry Retreat Recap
Friday 3/11/16

Ice breaker activity:
This exercise taught Vestry members “fun facts” about each other.  People wrote their fact down without their name and others had to match facts and people. Major learning was that we have a very interesting and fun group!

Strengthsfinder debrief:
Kira shared some background on the strengths-based Gallup strategy which proposes that leaders focus on leveraging their strengths instead of focusing on gaps in their capabilities that need fixing.  This Strengthsfinder strategy has people audit how they work and add value through a 144 item questionnaire. After the questionnaire is completed it gives a detailed overview of the person’s 5 dominant strengths.   The discussion helped the group understand what each strength meant and how the diversity of the Vestry’s strengths can work together very well.

Saturday 3/12/16

Mutual Ministry Review:
A diocesan facilitator came to work with the Vestry on a discussion about our Mutual Ministry.  This discussion covered strengths and challenges we face at St. Stephen’s. As always, the quantity of our outreach, activities, and ministries was long and varied.   The heart and passion of St. Stephen’s inspires all the Vestry members and we are lifted up by what the community is able to accomplish. The challenges discussed included the amount of resources we have to support our broad organization- church, pre-school, cemetery, and mausoleum. Another challenge is the small quantity of staff and congregation to support all the wonderful work we want to do.  The Vestry is talking through the best ways to resolve some of these challenges through several task groups and more information will be coming on this.

Sabbatical Planning:
With Reverend Sheelagh’s first ever sabbatical approaching, the Vestry has begun to plan for how we will support the church, pastorally and operationally, between May 9th and September 1st. Reverend Derek and Deacon Kathleen will be with us during this time and we have several back up leaders from nearby congregations to be “on call” for us as well.  To help manage the smooth operation of the church office and all our buildings, Denise Price is leading a task group.  This group will plan for filling the gaps, creating more efficiency in our tasks, or working differently while Reverend Sheelagh is away. (Any and all who can pitch in are welcome!)  We will continue to share updates on these plans in the next few weeks.   We will also have a presence at Coffee Hour to be available for ideas or questions and also to sign up anyone who can be available to help out in the Church Office.

Prayer and Communion:
Ended with a brief prayer service and communion.   This gave us all a chance to reconnect with the spiritual side of our Vestry work supporting St Stephen’s.


Going Deeper this Lent:
Thursdays  at noon in the Church
Stations of the Cross and meditations – Join us for this spiritual prayer walk on Thursday, March 24.

Online resources:
Daily meditations delivered to your email box: www.dioceseofnewark.org  click on Online Meditations to read, and to subscribe.

Holy Week
Holy Wednesday – Sacred Art Workshop – March 23rd, 7pm-9pm.
This is fully subscribed.  Please come ready to be creative.  Donations to offset costs of materials are welcome but not mandatory.

Maundy Thursday-Potluck Supper at 6:30pm
Thursday evening at 6:30pm for the Maundy Thursday celebration of the Last Supper in the upper room, and the stripping of the altars and one hour watch in the garden of Gethsemane.  Children welcome.

Good Friday Services
10:00am-11:00am children’s stations of the cross.
Noon -3:00pm – Good Friday Liturgy followed by meditations and Bach selections on Jesus’ Last Words from the Cross. Come and go as you can.
8:00pm-8:45pm -Good Friday Liturgy and reflection.



In 1987 St. Stephens became one of a few dozen congregations involved with a new ministry to homeless families – IHN – the Interfaith Hospitality Network for the Homeless. Since then, another 6,000 congregations have done the same, involving more than 160,000 volunteers and collectively serving more than 600,000 children and adults.  Volunteer congregations host families for a week offering food and shelter while the case management team helps them move toward permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

We host next from April 10  to April 17. We will be on hand on Sunday, March 13, to share more about IHN, family homelessness and how small acts of kindness can support families in distress and enrich our own. If you are newer to the church and the program, come to learn how simple things like cooking a lasagna, reading to a 3 year old and sleeping overnight, help families stay together at a time of crisis – changing the course of them, and their children’s lives.  If you’re an old hand at IHN, come and share your experiences and expertise.

We’ll need volunteers to stay overnight, to cook and serve meals, to entertain children, to run errands and for the set up and take down work to convert classrooms to bedrooms. To learn more, talk to Margo Greenfield or Claas Ehlers. To sign up, click this link.http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0845a4ac2ba02-ihnapril

As always, Meal Coordinator Sara Ruth Dorn will conduct signups during coffee hour for volunteers to prepare and serve dinners and purchase the necessary breakfast and snack staples.

The next sign-up at coffee hour for food and supplies will be Sunday, April 3.  If you wish to sign-up in the meantime or have questions, please call Sara Ruth Dorn at 973-467-9847.

Papermill Show Choir Benefit Concert

Sunday 24 April, 7:30pm St. Stephen’s Church
Tickets: $20 adults, $15 seniors & $10 children.Tickets can be purchased at the door or after church in April. Tickets can be reserved by calling the Rectory, 973-376-0688.


Please send all articles and e-mails for the newsletter to Claire by NOON on Tuesday at church@ststephensmillburn.org.