As I write this I will have been Priest at St. Stephens’ for nine months. It certainly has been a roller coaster ride, but what I have especially enjoyed is being on the roller coaster ride with all of you.
In that time we have seen some real growth together. It always a good time to take a good look at such growth and to be thankful for God for all that has been given us. Taking account of where we’ve been and where we going is simply putting things into perspective.
The other day I was talking to the manager of Hurley’s. After asking me how things are going at St. Stephen’s, he said, “Well, in my experience there are always two signs of growth in a church: weddings in baptisms.”
If that’s the case, then we’re a pretty healthy church for our size. Already this year we have had two baptisms, with another two scheduled for later in the summer and no doubt a few more before the year is done.
As for weddings, the last wedding at St. Stephen’s was 1996. The last weeding in the actual church building was in 1993. The wedding of Sara and Kody Backman at St. Stephen’s on June 20 certainly seemed to break the wedding drought—we have three more weddings scheduled this summer.
Our Average Sunday Attendance (ASA as it’s commonly known) has been up—quite a feat for summer. Even usually “low attendance Sundays” such as Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends were up. Our new Wednesday night Eucharist has been much more successful than I had anticipated and it seems to be a something we will continue doing in the fall.
It has been several years since we’ve had a Sunday School at St. Stephen’s. This Fall, we will be starting one (more information later).
The signs of growth and potential growth are in the air. Certainly I am sensing and seeing a real excitement in the air at St. Stephen’s.
This is an exciting time for St. Stephen’s. This summer I read a wonderful book by Tony Jones, entitled The New Christians. In this book, Jones has a wonderful description of “the Church.” He writes:
“We are committed to doing justice, loving Kindness and walking humbly with God. In the words of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment, loving God and loving our neighbors—including those who might be considered ‘the least of these’ or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered on Jesus and his message of the Kingdom of God, a message offering reconciliation with God, humanity, creation and self.”
In so many way, I think that is exactly what we are all doing at St. Stephen’s. It is an exciting time and I am very happy to be participating in it with you.
Bishop Michael Smith will be visiting us on November 22. In preparation for that visit, I am willing to help anyone who would like to do prepare for Confirmation by Bishop Smith.
Confirmation, according to the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer is “the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.”
What is required of those to be confirmed?
“It is required of those who are to be confirmed that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.” (BCP, p. 860)
In other words, Confirmation is a way of reconfirming one’s Baptismal vows and “officially becoming an Episcopalian.” Since Bishop Michael Smith will be visiting on November 22, this will be a great opportunity for anyone who would like to confirmed to do so.
If you are interested in receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, please talk to Fr. Jamie
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A wonderful article about Ron Richard was published in the July 23 issue of The High Plains Reader. You can read it online at:
by Alice Christianson
Instead of a column about vegan food, I want to honor the memory of Ron Richard. He died June 18, after complications from a bicycle accident. Ron was born and raised in Fargo and returned here in 2006. He started the vegan/vegetarian group called FM Veg.
Here are typical comments that FM Veg folks wrote about Ron: “One of the kindest, most genuine souls I’ve ever met. He had the vision, energy and passion to start FM Veg. So very grateful for getting to know him. A kindred spirit to many of us. Kind heart, good humor, ability to draw people out in conversation. Good cheer and jovial nature. Because of him and what he started I’ve enjoyed several years of potlucks and outings; I have met many wonderful people and created lasting friendships. Love of good veg food and desire for camaraderie. Kind and gentle spirit. Lover of life. Brought peace and joy to our times together.”
One person shared a quote from “It’s a Wonderful Life”: “Each one’s life touches so many other lives. When they aren’t around they leave an awful hole.”
Ron was an ardent environmentalist and understood that the best way to be a good steward of our planet was to live simply and to eat a plant-based diet. He also was a peace maker. He understood that to promote peace went way beyond protesting war. Peace means that there is worth to all life, not just human life. This was another important reason that he was vegan.
If everyone were that careful about the value and dignity of our fellow sentient beings, we would not have wars. Ron also understood that there are large numbers of pets that are euthanized every year because no one wants them, and he welcomed rescue/shelter animals into his home.
Ron’s request for a lasting and joyful memorial would be to adopt and promote a vegetarian lifestyle. Thanks to him, FM Veg will continue to be a resource to anyone in this area who is interested in a vegan/vegetarian diet. I am reminded of a quote from Norman Cousins: “Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.”