Thursday, November 28, 2013

Article in Today's Fargo Forum about FM Veg's Gentle Thanksgiving at St. Stephen's

Beast-free feast gives local vegans cause to celebrate

By: Emily Welker, INFORUM

FARGO – Celebrating a holiday based in large part on largesse can be tough for vegans and vegetarians.

“We had one gal – she had never been to anything where she could eat everything,” said Kathleen Keene of Moorhead.

The woman, a vegan, told Keene she was usually reduced to eating only corn and salad at Thanksgiving celebrations with family.

That was before a group of local vegans and vegetarians began holding an annual “Gentle Thanksgiving” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fargo, celebrating what they call a “cruelty-free” holiday.

“Most people are coming as a refugee – they’re the only ones who are vegan or vegetarian [in their households]. We have kind of adopted each other as a family,” said Keene, one of the dinner’s organizers.

Gentle Thanksgiving began locally seven years ago, put on by Fargo-Moorhead Vegetarians and Vegans. It was based on a national movement to take the turkey out of Turkey Day and introduce celebrating the holidays without meat or animal products.

The local Thanksgiving potluck, which was held Sunday this year, is open to the public, but Keene said they have to keep the guest list limited to 50 because of lack of space at the church.

Four meat eaters were present this year, one of whom came with her vegetarian husband. Keene said that doesn’t seem to pose a problem at their events.

“If you don’t advertise, people don’t realize it’s anything different than you usually eat,” Keene said.

Granted, that’s coming from a vegan. It’s the sort of gathering where the green beans with real cheese on top just sat off in the corner by themselves. The big hit this year was the vegan mac and “cheese.”

Elizabeth Pausch of Christine hopes to replicate the dish after going back for seconds and trying to snag the recipe from a fellow member.

“He says he doesn’t have a recipe for it, which saddens me greatly,” said Pausch, who brought another big hit, the pumpkin-chocolate chip cake.

Since it’s a feast almost entirely free of animal products, there’s less of a focus on a single centerpiece entrĂ©e. Still, mock meat products like Tofurky (tofu made to taste like turkey) are popular. Keene tries to get the companies that produce them to donate them each year.

Aside from the food, the main attraction for many is that the gathering can be fraught with less friction than they find at home.

Keene said many members find themselves bringing their own food to family gatherings, rather than impose upon the cook to provide something special.

But bringing one’s own, or even refusing food the host offers, even when it’s based on health or ethical objections, can create hurt feelings as well, she agreed.

“I had a moment – ‘I guess I’m going to have to host it myself,’ ” she said.

Pausch said bringing vegan and vegetarian traditions to the family table can be done incrementally. Her moment of triumph was getting her father to concede that vegan mashed potatoes tasted like – no kidding – mashed potatoes.

“I didn’t push for a lot of vegan things,” she said.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The week of November 25

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday November 27  - Thanksgiving Eve
7:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/Pr. Mark Strobel, preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Saturday, November 30
Salvation Army

Sunday December 11 Advent
11:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie Parsley, celebrant/preacher
NO Children’s Chapel
Coffee Hour following


Monday, November 18, 2013

The week of November 18

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday November 20 
6:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Deacon Linda Hall, Deacon
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Friday November 22   
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Saturday November 23
11:00 am – Advent Wreath/Menorah making workshop

Sunday November 24Christ the King Sunday
11:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie Parsley, celebrant/preacher
Children’s Chapel
Coffee Hour following

5 pm - FM Veg Gentle Thanksgiving 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fr. Jamie's Stewardship Letter

November 11, 2013
Feast of St. Martin of Tours

Dear members and friends of St. Stephen’s,

Stewardship time is upon us. This is always an exciting time for us at St. Stephen’s. It is a time for us talk about money, our place in the congregation, the many ministries we do and to celebrate who we are as a congregation.

We certainly have much to celebrate! This past year has been a very busy one. We have continued our many ministries of radical love, radical acceptance and radical welcoming to those in our community. And many people have responded to that outreach. We have welcomed 30 new members to our fold in 2013 over two New Member Sundays (a third New Member Sunday is scheduled for December 15 when Bishop Michael Smith visits us; that day we will also celebrate at least three confirmation and two receptions). Our congregation has grown from 55 members in 2008, to almost 150 members this year! That is incredible! And it is an amazing sign of God’s presence in our midst, in our many ministries, and in all that we do here.

During this Stewardship time, we of course give thanks for all these wonderful things. We also look forward to our future: our financial future and the futures of  the ministries God has called each of us to both within our congregation and in the larger community.

Stewardship is also about presence. One of the ways in which we can most easily and visibly contribute to Stewardship at St. Stephen’s is by our very presence on a regular basis at the Sunday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist or on Wednesday evenings.

Attendance is not only about what each of us needs, it also what the larger congregation needs. We essentially need each other. We need the presence and proximity of each other. I recently came across this interesting take on church attendance, which I have paraphrased and adapted to us at St. Stephen’s:
The writer of Hebrews challenges us with convicting words, “Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).  It is important for us to think about how important our presence is in church on Sundays or Wednesdays. When one is not here:
-          The body of the congregation is incomplete
-          Our voice is not heard in the worship and singing of the saints
-          We cannot actively serve others who may need our gifts
-          We miss out on receiving the Word of God in a preaching format
-          We miss out on corporate prayer
-          We miss out on fellowship with our friends and others at the church
-          We miss opportunities to share our own struggles with others who can help us  
-          We miss out on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and the spiritual benefits that go with regular Holy Communion.

My intent in sharing this is not to make anyone feel guilty. As you have heard me say many times, I do not take attendance at the door. I also understand that many people cannot attend due to illness or other circumstances in their lives. My intent is simply to remind us that when we pledge to St. Stephen’s we pledge of our money, we pledge of our talent, we pledge of the gifts we have received and are willing to share with others, we pledge of our expertise in certain areas of our lives, and we pledge of our very presence.

So, please do give. Give of your time and your presence. Give from the abundance that God has granted to you. And share of yourself in what ministries God has called you to here at St. Stephen’s

Your presence is also requested this coming Sunday November 17. On that day, we will gather together for our Pledge Sunday. The Vestry will host a lunch for us after our 11:00 celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Pledge Cards and Time and Talent sheets will be handed out as well.

In preparation for this special Sunday, I invite all of you to take time to reflect and to pray about your own stewardship. What talents can we offer to make St. Stephen’s a church that can reach out in love, compassion and radical acceptance to others? What material resources can we give to help maintain the ministries we do here?

As we continue our journey together, we look forward in hope and joy at the many incredible potentials that await us at St. Stephen’s.

Finally, please know of my gratitude in serving all of you as your priest. I feel blessed more and more each day for being here. Know that I pray for each of you by name in the course of a week in my daily prayers. I ask your continued prayers for me as well.

- peace,

Fr. Jamie A. Parsley

Monday, November 11, 2013

The week of November 11

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday November 13 
6:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Friday November 15 –   
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday November 1726 Pentecost
11:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie Parsley, celebrant/preacher
Children’s Chapel

Stewardship Luncheon served by our vestry following

Monday, November 4, 2013

The week of November 4 at St. Stephen's

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s
Wednesday November 6 
6:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Incense will be offered at this Mass
Supper afterward at a local restaurant

Friday November 8   
Fr. Jamie’s day off

Sunday November 1025 Pentecost
11:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie Parsley, celebrant/preacher
Children’s Chapel
Coffee Hour following

 12:45 pm - Vestry