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Letters from the Rector and Sr. Warden concerning COVID-19 and opportunities for worship, fellowship, formation, and more
October 7, 2020
From the Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont, Texas:
Peace and blessings to you in the Holy Spirit,
As we head into the fall season, St. Stephen's traditionally enters a busier season of engaging in the mission and ministry of being The Church in the world--and this fall is no exception! Despite how different things look and feel right now during the pandemic, we are answering the call to serve nonetheless. I am deeply grateful for all the ways the people of St. Stephen's have been participating and desire to continue participating in this work of Serving the World, Building Fellowship, Forming Christians, Spreading the Word, Worshipping Together, and doing Pastoral Care together. Thank you!
We have a busy month coming up and I have several important bits of news coming up for everyone:
On Resuming Services of Holy Communion on Sundays
As you know, our vestry and staff have been diligently charting a course for how we can gather as community in ways that are meaningful yet protective of our loved ones. We are very close to being able to offer communion bread for Holy Eucharist at our 8:00 and 10:00 Sunday services once again. The last thing we need is more volunteers to help operate the camera for our services. As soon as we get more volunteers to help with the camera during worship we will happily announce the resumption of Holy Communion. Maybe you or someone you know has never wanted to be a reader or acolyte or on the altar guild but would find this a meaningful way to serve and be a leader in the church! Please let us know if you are interested or would like to know more about serving in this simple yet very important way. Thank you!
On Another New Way to Volunteer at St. Stephen's
You may have heard on Sunday, we have a new way to volunteer that you can do from home! This would be a great way to be a part of making St. Stephen's that place of welcome and hospitality for which we are known from your living room, vacation home, or anywhere: Remote Greeters. Just like our in-person Greeters welcome people and help visitors who join us. Our Remote Greeters will join us on our online worship services, greet people, welcome visitors, and help with useful information for everyone during the service. It will be such an easy yet incredibly valuable way to be a leader in the church. If you are interested in or would like to know more about being a Remote Greeter, please let us know and thank you!
On Our Ongoing Work of Caring for Our Community
I am very grateful for everyone who participated in our In Common gatherings last week. We had some great speakers and insightful group discussions on how we can engage in caring for the needs of the community around us in Southeast Texas. Remember that two of the greatest social determinants of health in our community are mental health care and racial reconciliation--both areas that you and I can make a difference! We will continue to build on what we learned together at In Common, but I also want to draw your attention to new resources created for us at https://www.togetherepiscopal.com. Together Episcopal is a next step with The Episcopal Diocese of Texas and Episcopal Health Foundation in how we can serve the health of our community. Please visit Together Episcopal and watch out for more news to come!
On Elections for Leaders Serving in our Parish
It's October, so it is time for our elections of St. Stephen's members to serve and lead our parish. This year we will be electing new members to the Vestry (our lay group that work with the rector for strategic planning the mission and ministry of the parish), Delegates for Diocesan Council (our lay group that we send as representatives to the annual gathering of the Diocese of Texas), and Officers for our Endowment Foundation (our lay group serving as stewards over St. Stephen's endowment). We're doing things a little differently this year because of the pandemic, but we still value you having a voice in who represents us, leads us, and serves us. We will start the election on Sunday, October 25, and everyone who attends worship in-person will be able to vote in-person. We will also send out a way to vote electronically for everyone who joins us remotely. Please join us in praying for everyone who serves all of us in these important ways!
On Our Ongoing Work Envisioning the Future at St. Stephen's
All year in 2020 we have been working on envisioning what kind of church St. Stephen's is called to be in 2021 and beyond. Thank you for everyone who has joined us in group discussions, information gathering, and prayer. The work continues as St. Stephen's finds itself in a world that is dramatically changing around us. The kinds of mission and ministry to which we are called also changes in response. The vestry and I are eager to share with you what we learn from the CAT surveys. Be on the lookout for more opportunities for you to engage in envisioning the future at St. Stephen's with us!