Think. Serve. Worship. Belong.


Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts – Ministry & Volunteer Opportunity

Food Bank Volunteer Opportunity

With the recent hit of Hurricane Harvey, we have had an influx of donations and are needing help getting them sorted and repacked so they are readily available for our Partner Agency Food Pantries. If you are available at the dates below, please go to to register. If you would like to bring a group of 5 or more, please first view our available opportunities then submit the Group Volunteer Request Form. The earlier dates and times you are able to fill up, the better!

Church Retreat @ Mo Ranch, Labor Day Weekend

by Ellen Beal, Membership Committee

At St. Stephen, we have a beautiful building to worship in and feel God’s love. But we Presbyterians have another beautiful place to worship that shows ” the wonders of His world” through nature. That place is Mo Ranch, in the Texas Hill Country, where you worship with “the rocks and trees, of skies and seas, His hand the wonders wrought”. The St. Stephen All-Church Retreat at Mo Ranch, Labor Day weekend, September 2-4, is a special time to refresh body, mind, and spirit, reconnect with one another, and reaffirm our commitment to St. Stephen.

Our retreat leaders this year are St. Stephen’s own staff, Fritz and Beth. The theme is “Rising From the Ruins,” and we’ll be reflecting on our recovery from the vandalism and Biblical passages on the theme of falling and rising and death and resurrection–the way that God can use difficult situations to make us stronger, healthier, and more faithful. While there will be some separate activities for adults, youth and children, most of the retreat will be inter-generational, as we build up the idea that we are the body of Christ together.

There’s plenty to do at Mo Ranch! Canoe down the Guadalupe River and explore some of Mo’s 500 acres and perhaps encounter a deer or sight a rare species of bird. Of course swimming and sliding down the Giant Slide into the Guadalupe. There’ll be a chuck wagon BBQ on the banks of the river Saturday evening. And tennis players, bring a racket–they have courts!

We will be staying in comfortable, hotel-like accommodations in Pheasant Run Inn. Each room is $260 for two nights and meal plans are $60 for adults and $35 for kids. This is wonderfully affordable for anyone interested in going! Registration sheets are available at the Welcoming Committee table in the narthex after the 10:00 am service each Sunday. You can also call Anne in the Administration office (817) 927-8411 or email HURRY! Registration is closing soon.

Topping Out

by Fellowship Committee

Grab your calendar and mark Sunday, August 27, 2017, 2:00-4:00 PM, for the SSPC “Topping Out”.

The “Topping Out” will be a celebration of the completion of all repairs and the reopening of our Christian Education Building, after the vandalism on January 8. A Service of Thanksgiving in the Sanctuary will begin at 2:00, followed by a blessing of the restored building. A buffet reception of appetizers and sweets will welcome you back in the Parish Hall, along with tours of the CE building.

In addition to the St. Stephen congregation, we are inviting churches, organizations, community members, companies and individuals who have offered donations of use of facilities, funds, supplies, support and prayers, to share our joy at this special event.

Please save the date and plan to be a part of the SSPC “Topping Out”!


So Much Going On!

By Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch

The education building is humming with activities these days. Workers are in and out, as are day school staff and volunteers. All the casement windows have been installed and work on the leaded windows will begin soon. Carpet is ripped out ready to be replaced and the vandalized classrooms and hallways will soon be re-painted.

Now that the kitchen and Parish Hall are completed, Morning Prayers has returned to the chapel, followed by breakfast in the Parish Hall. The Budget & Finance committee met in the Parish Hall, as was their habit, for the first time since the vandalism. Room in the Inn, our ministry to the homeless, is meeting in the Parish Hall as well. All winter term it met in the Sanctuary Building. Now it’s returned home.

When we return to full use of the building in about a month and half, you’ll see a lot of changes. Upstairs, the Christian Education and Music ministries of the church have been reorganized. There will be two quite noticea-ble changes. The present library will now be our Archive Room, with our historical materials easily available to church members. As you recall, it used to be in the basement of the Sanctuary Building.

The other change is that the choir is moving from the balcony in the Parish Hall to the room we have used in the past for Godly Play. The new space is being called the Choir Rehearsal Room, or “CPR,” as some joke. The balcony will now be used for storage for CE and the day school, and a system of shelves will be placed there so that the storage can’t be seen from floor level.

You may not be aware of it, but there are some changes in the Sanctuary Building as well. The former Archive Room has been modified into a functional classroom with a large closet for storage. Likewise another room has been built out as a classroom, also with a storage closet. Eduardo Calderon, who has shepherded the post-vandalism renovation, has been very intentional in thinking about how to redistribute and create the best bal-ance between classroom/office space and storage space. He and our sexton, Eddie Shaw, have worked hard not only to create new space for both but also to eliminate piled-up junk from the past decades.

You’ll get to see all this and more as part of our fantastic “Topping Off” celebration on August 27th, advertised elsewhere in this newsletter. It’s a joyous celebration of our official “reopening” and tours of the improved building will be available.

God has truly, truly blessed St. Stephen in the months since the vandalism. There’s been such an outpouring of love from the community. We’ve seen an uptick in visitors and new members. Through Eduardo’s leadership, we’ve not only made repairs, we have actually used this opportunity to improve our facilities in new and ex-citing ways. In addition, there’s been a feeling of solidarity, of fellowship, of shared purpose, that has made this an exciting and spiritually uplifting time. The Apostle Paul observed that “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). It’s a bit of stretch to call the vandalism “suffering,” but it has certainly been a difficulty, and many churches have stum-bled under less challenging stressors. But by God’s grace, this situation has seemed to strengthen our character and shore up our hope. In fact, the grit and determination of this congregation to make something positive out of this difficulty has been a witness to the world of the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. Thanks be to God for the strength and promise we have received!


Volunteers Needed Room in the Inn

On July 4th, we began the summer session of Room in the Inn (RITI). This marks a full ten years that St. Stephen has been hosting homeless guests since RITI was initiated in Fort Worth by St. Stephen and Broadway Baptist in November 2007. During the months of July and August, traditionally our hottest months of the year, up to 15 men who are currently homeless will join us each Tuesday night/ Wednesday morning for an overnight stay, two warm meals, a sack lunch for the next day—and most important—our hospitality.

  • To properly execute RITI each week requires approximately 30 volunteers. Volunteer opportunities include:
  • Setup (beds/ dinner tables) (3:00 – 4:30pm Tues)
  • Drivers (from/ to East Lancaster) (4:15– 5:15pm Tues; 7:00 – 8:00am Wed)
  • Pre-preparation of dinner & delivery to the church kitchen (by 4pm Tues)
  • Final preparation/ serving of dinner & cleanup at church (4:00 – 7:00pm Tues)
  • Hosts—visiting with guests over dinner, after-dinner, or breakfast (6:00 – 9:00pm Tues; 6:30 – 7:00am Wed)
  • Supervision of sack lunch preparation at church (6:30 – 7:30pm Tues)
  • Innkeepers—sleeping overnight at church with our guests (9:30pm Tues – 6:00am Wed)
  • Pre-preparation of breakfast & delivery to the church kitchen (by 10pm Tues)
  • Final preparation/ serving of breakfast & cleanup at church (5:45 – 8:30am Wed)
  • Laundry—washing bed linens/ towels/ wash cloths & delivering back to church (Wed pm – Tues am)

You can sign up for any of these jobs for a specific date in July or August by contacting Wendy Larmour ( or Mike Tyson (

Or click on this link to sign up – Room In The Inn Summer 2017 – July 4

We welcome participation by everyone—St. Stephen members, visitors & friends—and know it will be a meaningful experience for you.

MANY THANKS to all who continue to make Room in the Inn a priority mission for St. Stephen!

4th Friday Book Club Upcoming Schedule

Join the Book Club and enjoy lunch at 11:30 (bring a sandwich of your choice) and lively reviews and discussion (12 noon) on the following books:

July 28
Hidden Figures by Margot Shetterly: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race)
Reviewed by Bee Ingalls

August 25
Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Reviewed by Charlotte Ray

September 22
Glacier National Park: A Culmination of Giants by George Bristol
Reviewed by the author
Watch for special news about this event!

Youth Mission Trip 2017

Thirty youth and sponsors are leaving July 22 for the 12th annual youth mission trip. The group will be going to St. Paul, MN through July 30. While in St. Paul, we will be working Central Presbyterian Church’s first Vacation Bible School in 10 years. Also, we will work with Hearts & Hammer Organization to work on repairs on two homes of disabled vets and disabled and needy seniors.



Building Improvements, Vacation Bible School, and More!

This last week has been hopping at St. Stephen. Once again there are things going on in every part of the church, not just the sanctuary building and grounds! The windows are being installed throughout the education building, starting with the casement windows and those in the Parish Hall and kitchen. Why there? Because Beth wanted to use Parish Hall and the kitchen for Vacation Bible School, and they’re EVERYWHERE this week. We have some 70 kids participating, including huge turnout from our teens and some returning college students to serve as shepherds. The energy and excitement in the building are tangible.

They aren’t just only in the Ed building, either. They are on the grounds: I know it seems strange to have a fenced-in area on the front lawn, but that serves as the playground for our VBS kids so that they are kept safe from any hazards created in the lawn while the windows are repaired.

But not only that: they’re in the sanctuary building. They’re watching movies and napping in the Narthex, but they are also in OUR COMPLETELY NEW CLASSROOMS IN THE SANCTUARY UPPER BASEMENT. Eduardo Calderon, our intrepid Property Committee chair, saw to it that insurance covered a build-out of classrooms in the basement since we still cannot use classroom space upstairs for VBS. We now have two completely new full-size classrooms in the sanctuary building. After decades, we will be able to use the downstairs as well as the sanctuary itself for ministry purposes.

In the meantime, Anne Barrett and I are growing accustomed to a great deal more light in our offices than we’ve had in a long time. Workers completely replaced the french windows in my office, and likewise the casement windows in Anne’s space. There’s a new cheeriness and brightness that is lifting up everyone’s spirits.

There’s a lot coming up in the next few months. Below is information about our July 2nd service and patriotic organ concert with our good friend, Michael Britt; and our exciting upcoming intergenerational all-church retreat to Mo Ranch, with program led by your staff, me, Beth, and Mitchell. The theme will be “Rising from the Ruins” and we’ll use the recovery from the vandalism as a jumping-off point to talk about how God enables all of us and each of us to rise up when things get us down. The program will include all ages, and we have 20 hotel-like rooms reserved that can hold up to four people, so we really hope you’ll bring the entire family. This is a good way to get to know your fellow church members, especially the many who’ve joined us fairly recently and who may not know other members of the church as well.

On July 4th, Independence Day, Room in the Inn celebrates its Tenth Year providing hospitality to the homeless in Fort Worth. I will be leading an orientation for those who want to learn more about this exciting and meaningful ministry on TUESDAY, JULY 18, AT 5:00 in the Parish Hall where
RITI meets. If you aren’t involved and would like to be, please join me! You can contact me at .

And keep your eyes open for the upcoming announcement of St. Stephen’s big “Topping Off” party, in which we have a “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the re-opening of the Education Building in late August. We plan to have special guests and anticipate news media will be present to see how, by the grace of God, we have recovered and have continued to pursue the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness!

New Summer 10:00 am Service to Start June 11



This Sunday, Pentecost, June 4, will be the last Sunday until mid-August that St. Stephen will have two Sunday morning services. Starting Trinity Sunday, June 11, we will initiate our new 10:00 am service, with Sunday School at 9:00 am.


The summer service will incorporate elements of both the 8:30 am and the 11:00 am services. The service will take place in the full sanctuary, like the 11:00 am service. Preaching and worship leadership will continue from the chancel.


The format will be the same as 8:30, with communion served from the table, which will be set in the crossing, and the servers standing in front of it.


The choir will continue to lead worship through our July 2 service, after which they will take a summer break and return mid-August. While they are serving, we will continue to enter and lead via procession and recession.


We will return to our regular worship schedule on August 20.


This will be a wonderful opportunity for people from both services to worship and fellowship with one another, as well as a chance to do things a bit differently, which always inspires creativity.