by Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch
First, an important update:
HONORING DOLORES MORGAN: Our wonderful business manager Dolores Morgan is retiring in midNovember.
We had at first hoped to honor her Kirkin’ Sunday, but that date has not worked out for her
and her family, so we’ve arranged an alternate date–our October 22nd All-Church Picnic at the Adams
Farm! The event details are announced elsewhere. This is a great opportunity for fun, food, and fellowship
for all ages, and also your chance to say good-bye to a beloved member of the St. Stephen family,
Dolores Morgan! Please join us! And don’t forget to RSVP to Anne Barrett at the Church office by
phone or email to email@example.com or Ron Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to comply with law, best safety practices, and the expectations of the insurance company, we
will soon be locking the front doors to the Education Building on Mondays and Wednesdays during
St. Stephen Presbyterian Day School hours. This is for the protection of our children and also of ourselves
from any risks or liabilities. The new system includes an intercom with camera and automatic
door openers, to make the front doors connecting to the covered walkway handicap-accessible. The
automatic door openers will also help the elderly and even people carrying bulky items through these
“heavy” doors. On Mondays and Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays (depending on how empty the
building is) simply ring the intercom and staff can communicate with you and let you in remotely (by
pressing a button at their desks, so they won’t need to run to the door). Tuesdays and Thursdays the
doors remain unlocked during business hours.
I know the improvements will take some getting used to, and perhaps be a bit frustrating to regular
church-goers. For instance, because of child safety concerns, Wednesday Bible Study has moved from
the Eastminster Room to the session room (by the way, please join us, every Wednesday at noon!). It’s
important to remember a couple of things: first and foremost, these rules are for the protection of our
day school children. Second, they are a requirement of our insurance company: without such compliance,
we might be unable to acquire insurance. We would also not be in compliance with code, which
could result in our day school’s closure.
But perhaps most importantly, the St. Stephen Presbyterian Day School is a mission outreach of St. Stephen
Presbyterian Church. It has existed in some form as a conscious outreach to our community since
the mid-fifties. I have frankly never seen a church and its day school so well integrated into each other’s
ministry. I have served three churches with day schools, and even when they’re supposed to be integrated,
they rarely truly are. That is not so at SSPDS. Teachers and staff, led by our amazing day school
director Janna Franzwa Canard, consciously teach Christian values to their charges. Every week, Mitchell
and I (along with Wolfie and Stinky, who are famous among SSPDS alums) lead chapel; and Miss
Beth teaches the kids music, which directly results in the annual Christmas and Graduation concerts
held in our sanctuary. The Day School board is an outreach of the Education Committee and its minutes
are reported to session every month. Beth is the direct liaison with the day school staff and Janna.
One thing very striking to me, and different from other day schools in churches, is the percentage of
St. Stephen parishioners who send their kids to the day school and day school families who then join
the church. The day school is one of the key draws for many young families to St. Stephen.
And then, of course, there’s the support you all give to SSPDS! St. Stephen parishioners show up in
droves for events like the Day School Wine & Dine Auction and the Scoopy-Doo end of year celebration.
That again, is unique in my experience. This church is truly supportive of the day school. That’s appreciated
by the teachers and the parents. They were certainly grateful for it during the scramble that
followed the vandalism in January, as church members mobilized to support the day school as it moved
to its temporary digs at Ridglea.
The St. Stephen Presbyterian Day School is as much a ministry of this church as worship on Sunday or
Room in the Inn on Tuesday nights and is one of the most important ways St. Stephen is known to the
Fort Worth area. It’s something we can all be proud of!