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Mission Opportunities in November & December

We need 75 Thanksgiving Baskets filled with $15 worth of food. We provide grocery sacks; you fill them. South Central Alliance of Churches distributes
to needy families in 76109, 76110, and 76104.

Christmas Angel Tree will be up Nov. 26—Dec. 10. Pick an angel and provide Christmas presents!

Fall All Church Picnic

The Fall All Church Picnic is Sunday, October 22 from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Adams’ Country Home, 1250 Jenkins Rd, Aledo, 76008.

  • Special tribute to Dolores Morgan on her retirement from SSPC after 15 years
  • Petting zoo, horse and pony rides, bounce house, bbq from Railhead
  • Water, tea, soft drinks, beer, and wine will be served in the tent (rain or shine)
  • Bring dessert if you wish

RSVP required. Please RSVP to Ron Adams or call Anne Barrett in the church office (817.927.8411).

Cliburn Competitor Stephen Beus In Concert at St. Stephen – October 29

As many now know, the comprehensive restoration of St. Stephen’s Bösendorfer “Imperial” concert grand piano was completed this summer by master technician and voicer, Peter Collora of Dallas. Since returning to St. Stephen, the Bösendorfer has been used in services and rehearsals, as well as for concerts and events presented at the church; however, we have not yet had an opportunity to showcase the piano in a full length recital. That will change on October 29 at 4:00 pm, when St. Stephen will host renowned pianist Stephen Beus, Assistant Professor of Music at Brigham Young University.

As a child growing up on a farm in rural Washington state, Stephen had minimal exposure to classical music. But by age 5, he had become fascinated with the piano and the many varieties of tone it can produce. He made remarkable progress once he began taking lessons, and by age 11 had entered the junior level of the prestigious Gina Bachauer Competition. The experience was transformative: “that was my first taste of international competition. It was formative because I heard kids play the piano so well. That changed my life,” Beus recalls. He would go on to win the junior level of the Bachauer Competition at age 14, later taking the gold medal at the adult level in 2006. His success at the Bachauer helped launch his professional career— one that has taken him to Europe, Russia, Africa, China and throughout the United States.

When I met Stephen in 2004, he was preparing for the upcoming (2005) Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. I can remember attending his ‘prelim’ recital, which took place at in an auditorium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I have a vivid memory of hearing him play American composer Samuel Barber’s Sonata for piano on the recital. It is a monstrously difficult piece, yet he played it with such ease. Stephen was selected to compete in the 2005 Competition, and returned again in 2009, when he was voted audience favorite. “After experiencing the Cliburn, I wasn’t afraid of anything,” Beus told an Oklahoma newspaper in 2014. “Nothing could be that intimidating. And though I didn’t advance, I still prepared for all the rounds. A Juilliard professor told me that competitions are a game, and you have to have fun playing the game.”

We hope you will come and hear this recital, which not only showcases our incredible instrument, but also an immense talent in Dr. Beus. Please, invite your friends and those you know who appreciate the arts. Stephen Beus’s recital at St. Stephen is underwritten by the St. Stephen Special Music Trust. Consider making a contribution today: online or by email to mc@ststephenpresbyterian.com.

Education Building and Day School Changes

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 admin@ststephenpresbyterian.com or Ron Adams at adams.aledo@gmail.com.

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!

South Central Alliance of Churches “Fill the Shelves”

October is our month to provide food items for the SCAC pantry.  Please bring to the church in paper or plastic bags and leave in Fellowship Hall.  Items needed are:

  • canned fruits or vegetables.
  • juice,
  • tea or Crystal Light;
  • soups and ramen noodles;
  • rice, pasta, and beans;
  • canned meats; pudding,
  • jello, custard;
  • peanut butter and jelly,
  • syrup;
  • macaroni and cheese;
  • hamburger or tuna helper;
  • boxed mixes for breads and cakes;
  • snacks and crackers;
  • cereal, oatmeal, grits;
  • snack items for kids;
  • any other non perishable food items

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 http://tafb.org/volunteer/ 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 admin@ststephenpresbyterian.com. 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!