St. Stephen’s Newsletter

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

NINTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST - SERVICE OF HOLY EUCHARIST II

July 25, 2021  †  10:00 am

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Collect of the Day
 
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
 
Lectionary Readings
 
 
Weekly Bible Study: (click here) 9 Pentecost
 
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Don't miss any of the news from St. Stephen's Church! To make sure messages don't get routed to your spam folder be sure to add ststephensforest@mail.com and ststephenspriest@gmail.com to your address books.
 
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From the Priest's Study
 

Dear St. Stephen's family,

Over the past several days I've spent time reflecting on all those who are drawn to this sacred place and what it is that brings them here. Earlier this month for instance I received a lovely note in the mail from someone in the community who wrote, "We drive by your local place of worship on a daily basis and frequently comment on its beauty and guess at the history. The gorgeous tree out front in the Fall is always the center of my special needs children's conversations for the short time it is covered in bright colored leaves."

A few days ago as I was leaving the office I met a lady who was sitting in her car in the parking lot. When she saw me walking out she got out and introduced herself as a native of Ohio who is in town from time-to-time to visit family, and whenever she's here she says she likes to come to the church simply to be present and reflect. She talked about how she finds it a place of peace and calm.

Then on Wednesday, I met two small visitors of a different variety - young spotted fawns who have apparently taken up residence here, finding safety and shelter inside the fence and under the trees. They didn't seem to mind too much my standing near them in the cemetery and taking a few pictures. In fact, they gave off an air of that same peace and calm sensed by our visitor from Ohio.

This morning I invite you to take a moment to reflect on what it was that drew you to St. Stephen's. Were you the next generation of a family that had attended here for many years? Were you - like my family was - invited here by a friend for a service and to find out what the church is all about? Did you come simply to find a place to reflect, be still and know God? There are likely as many different reasons as there are readers of this note, but whatever your reason please reflect on it. Think about your experiences here and your hopes for the future of St. Stephen's. Finally, think about what each of you - what we as a community - can do to draw even more people to this sacred space and invite them to have their own wonderful and meaningful experiences.

Grace and blessings,
Matt+
 
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Birthday and Anniversary Blessings
We have been overjoyed to celebrate some truly remarkable milestones among members of our congregation in recent weeks. Recently Bill and Liz Hodges celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary. This morning, Jim and Ann Hite are celebrating their 72nd anniversary, with the next two days marking Ann's 95th and Jim's 96th birthdays. We give thanks for Bill, Liz, Jim and Ann, for all they mean to this parish and for the blessing of their long and joyful lives together. Please join us as we offer a this prayer for them: O God, our times are in your hand: Look with favor, we pray, on your servants as they begin another year. Grant that they may grow in wisdom and grace, and strengthen their trust in your goodness all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Coffee and Ice Cream with the Priest
 
Mark your calendars for Thursday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m. for a "Coffee and Ice Cream with the Priest" gathering in the Parish Hall. This will be a very informal event and give Matt+ and the congregation an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better. The structure for this is simple: just arrive, pour a cup of coffee (or tea or juice; we'll make sure we have options, including decaf), get a scoop or two of ice cream, and start talking. While there are several in the congregation who remember Matt+ from his time at St. Stephen's in his youth, he's still a new face for many - and as such he'd like to give you a chance to find out more about him, his family, and his background. You can ask questions, swap stories, and perhaps even share a dream or two about the future of St. Stephen's.
 
No RSVP is necessary; simply show up. And of course if you're unable to attend this and would like to visit with Matt+ at another time, don't hesitate to get in touch with him.
 
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Coffee Hour Signup
 
Thank you so much to those who have reached out to sponsor a coffee hour in the coming weeks. If you'd like to host a coffee hour please send an email to the Parish Office at parish@ststephensforest.org to let us know. We look forward to having these joyful fellowship times as part of our Sundays once again!
 
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Confirmation Classes
 
In anticipation of an expected visit by Bishop Mark Bourlakas to St. Stephen's in the spring, Matt+ will offer confirmation and reception preparation for anyone age 13 or older in a series of classes starting this fall. More information on that will be forthcoming, but for now if you or someone in your family wishes to be confirmed or received by the Bishop during his visit please send Matt+ an email at ststephenspriest@gmail.com with their names and ages. Please do also contact him if you have any questions about confirmation and reception or would like more information.
 
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Daily Readings and Prayers
 
As a way of offering additional support for your personal prayer life, Matt+ each weekday emails out the readings from the daily lectionary together with one of the psalms assigned for the day and a prayer. If you wish to be added to the distribution list please email Matt+ at ststephenspriest@gmail.com to let him know.
 
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Gleaning Opportunities
 
The Society of St. Andrew invites anyone interested in helping to gather food for those struggling with food insecurity to join them on one of two gleaning outings next week. On Tuesday, July 27 and Thursday, July 29 peach gleaning will take place at Covesville in Albermarle County (just south of Charlottesville). If you'd like to take part in this important community ministry you can sign up at https://endhunger.org/virginia/. For more information please send an email to Sarah Ramey, Rachael Lee, or Alyson Ey.
 
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Parish Directory
 
Copies of the updated parish directory are available at the back of the sanctuary and on the table next to the Parish Hall door. You're invited to pick one up and take it home with you. If you see any corrections or revisions that should be made, please email them to the Parish Office at parish@ststephensforest.org.
 
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Parish Prayer List - July 2021
 
We pray for healing for Jennie Aveson, Barbara East, Linda Finney, Chris Frank, Gene Goley, Ann and Jim Hite, Bill Hodges, Andrea Kind, Lola Lee Mohr, Larry O'Grady, Lucy O'Shaughnessy, Joe and Katsuyo Robinson, Martha Stokes, Helen Vulevich, Cyndi, Sharon and Richard.
 
We pray for all who have died, especially Joe Finney.
 
We pray for the people of those nations who share a bond with members of our parish family and who are struggling with natural disasters, illness and unrest, especially Australia, Germany and South Africa.
 
We pray for our families, friends, and neighbors; for those we know and those we don’t know; that they may live in joy, peace, and health and be freed from ailments, anxiety and addictions.
 
If there is anyone you wish to add to the prayer list please send an email to the Parish Office at parish@ststephensforest.org. More immediate pastoral care needs or emergencies can of course be sent to Matt+ by email at ststephenspriest@gmail.com or by phone either in the office at (434) 525-5511 or on his cell at (703) 581-9500.
 
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Revised Worship Guidelines
  • We are no longer requiring social distancing. If fellow parishioners are still masked (more on masking below), we ask you to respect their desire to exercise continuing caution.
  • We can sing once again during services!
  • You will find prayer books and hymnals in the pew racks.
  • We will continue screening worshipers upon arrival at the church; please continue avoiding direct physical contact during the passing of the peace.
  • If you are fully vaccinated or have had previously-documented COVID-19, you are no longer required to wear a mask.
  • If you are immunocompromised, we advise you to continue to mask.
  • If you travel abroad, we recommend you follow CDC guidelines upon your return.
  • There will be changes to the process for the Eucharist that will be explained at each service, and ushers are available to guide you.
Thank you for your faithfulness in keeping our congregation and visitors safe throughout this time!
 
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Support for St. Stephen's
 
We are grateful for your continuing support of St. Stephen's through your gifts of time, talent and treasure and deeply appreciative of your prayerful gifts to the mission and ministry of the parish. If you wish to make a one time or recurring gift or make your pledge online, please visit https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/1565122.
 
For more information about life here at St. Stephen's please visit our website, www.stephensforest.org. In the time ahead we will be making updates so that it becomes a go-to source for information together with our parish Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ststephensforest.
 
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Vestry Contact Information
 
Justin McCarthy, Senior Warden: (815) 307-6285; justinmccarthy@bellsouth.net
Larry Flores, Junior Warden: (434) 942-2412; firstflores@gmail.com
Jennifer Moore, Treasurer: (434) 660-2543; jenfrmoore@aol.com
Hal Clark: (434) 616-1496; halclark@shentel.net
Ray Vohden: (434) 401-7540; Vohden1@shentel.net
Sharon Wright: (315) 246-6787; swright3584@gmail.com