Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Public liturgies closed until April 30

March 31, 2020

Dear St. Stephen’s family:

Please find attached a letter from the Standing Committee of the Diocese regarding the Covid-19 crisis. St. Stephen’s, of course, will  comply with the recommendation of the Standing Committee and extend the discontinuation of all public liturgies at St. Stephen’s until April 30. The stream lined liturgies will continue during this time on both Facebook and YouTube.

          Our Holy Week liturgies will be streamlined and will be live streamed on Facebook and uploaded to YouTube.

Facebook live streaming will be on the St. Stephen’s Facebook page: https://facebook.com/groups/52039214842

All live streamed liturgies will be uploaded to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcdWKCnCHmviajkFX5p-xGg

          As we enter another week of quarantine and social/physical distancing, I ask your continued prayers for our St. Stephen’s community, for our community for Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo, for our Church, Nation and the World.

          Please know that you all remain in my daily prayers.

Fr. Jamie+

Friday, March 27, 2020

Please keep up on your Pledges/Offerings


Since we are not meeting in person for the foreseeable future, it is imperative that you do not let your pledges or offerings lapse. I know this in an uncertain time for everyone. But it is especially difficult for a congregation like St. Stephen’s which depends on the pledged financial offerings of its members.

Although we are not meeting together in person, we are still worshipping. Both the Sunday and Wednesday Masses continue online, and people have been expressing their gratitude for these opportunities.

Fr Jamie and the Wardens and Vestry of St. Stephen’s are still doing the work the needs to be done in our congregation. It is business as usual most days at St. Stephen’s.

Although nothing could prepare us for this crisis, St. Stephen’s has stepped up to the plate and continues to do so, even when events change on a seemingly daily basis.

We are still reaching out and trying to comfort and give aid to those in need both within our congregation and in our community. The Coronavirus has not prevented us from doing the work we are called to do here at St. Stephen’s

So, please do keep your pledges and offerings.

It is very easy to do so.

MAIL: Please feel free to mail in your offerings at the church (120 21 Ave N. Fargo 58102). I am still keeping office hours each day and so I also check the mail. Please make sure that, in mailing your offering, you send it to the attention of Laura Nylander. Laura will be emailing you soon with an update on your pledge. Please feel free to ask her any questions you may have about your pledge.

ONLINE: You can also give online. Simply visit our website (http://ststephensfargo.org) and click on the “donate” button on the home page. This will direct you to Paypal. You can pay your pledge or simply give us an offering.

PRAY: Most importantly continue your prayers for St. Stephen’s, for our larger Church, for our nation and for this world.

Together we will get through this. And soon, we will meet together again in person, will worship together in our building and will be with each other to continue to do what St. Stephen’s does best.

Fr. Jamie+
The Wardens and Vestry of St. Stephen’s

John Anderson's ordination postponed

Dear St. Stephen’s-

We knew it was inevitable, and I held off making on “official” statement about it until now, but John Anderson’s ordination to the Diaconate, originally planned for April 4, has been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Bishop Keith has suggested two possible dates in May or June. As we move closer to that time, we will share the updated information for the ordination.

As you all know, this had been yet another disappointing set-back for John in already unduly difficult process. However, this is an unavoidable reality in this time of world-wide crisis, and I am grateful for Bishop Keith’s leadership and pastoral compassion in this difficult situation.

With all of that in mind, I ask all of you to please keep John, Jessica and their entire family in your prayers right now.

And let us all look forward to the wonderful day when we can gather together to celebrate the ordination of another Deacon in the Church.

Fr. Jamie+ 

Monday, March 23, 2020

From the Rector, March 23

Dear St. Stephen's Members and Friends, 

          As we enter into another week of quarantine, worship from a distance, and an uncertain future, we do so as a community. We do so with the knowledge that God is with us, and that all will be well.

I ask your prayers for our St. Stephen’s community. The effects of this crisis are already hitting very close to home. Although, thankfully, none of our community had been diagnosed with the virus, we are starting to see members affected by reduced work hours, financial shortfall due to the looming recession and, of course, our regular day-to-day pastoral issues.

As you know, one of our own continues to near the end of his earthly journey. I ask that you continue to keep Larry Kindseth in your prayers, as well as his wife, Anna and his daughters, including our own Janie Breth, and her family.

Another parishioner is with her ailing father in California and is thus further separated from our community. Please pray for Amy Phillips, her  father, Sam, as well as Dan and their family during this time.  

          We still gather to worship. Our live streaming Mass is a huge success, with almost 200 people viewing each liturgy and participating from home. We also have people  joining us from around the country and the world. The feedback to our live streaming has been phenomenal! Please keep posting those comments! (I will publish a few of them in our newsletter next week)

I am also aware that some of us are not members of Facebook for various reasons. With that in mind, and with the goal of widest outreach to our members, as well as non-members, we have now formed our very St. Stephen’s Channel on YouTube and have been uploading the videos of our Sunday and Wednesday masses there. Our St. Stephen’s YouTube channel can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcdWKCnCHmviajkFX5p-xGg

The link can also be found on our website and blog. Or simply go to YouTube.com and search for “St. Stephen’s Fargo.” Please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.  

We are all brand new to this unique way of communicating and new ways of worship. There are, of course, going to mistakes as we proceed. Please be patient with us as navigate this strange new world together.

Both John Anderson and I have been slowly but surely making phone calls, emailing and texting parishioners to check on their well-being. Communication though is a two-way street of course, so please do check in on a regular basis with me so that we can be in regular communication during this time.

The work of the Church continues. We celebrated Laetare Sunday this past Sunday, though our rejoicing on this Rose Sunday was a bit subdued. We also blessed John Anderson’s new Deacon’s stole (made by Jean Sando) and his brand-new Dalmatic.

In addition to our weekly Masses, our Vestry also met on Sunday by Zoom. It was a productive meeting but one in which we all realized how difficult it is to meet everyone’s needs at this time.

Our wardens, Jean and Jessica, communicate on a daily basis (oftentimes many times a day). Please keep your wardens and Vestry in your prayers as well.

The big questions for the near future, of course, concern John Anderson’s ordination and Holy Week.

John Anderson’s ordination: I have been in contact with Bishop Keith Whitmore about whether the April 4th date for ordination is still feasible. As we all know, this situation changes day by day.  Earlier last week, we were weighing the option of a small ordination service on April 4th, which could then be live streamed. Since then, the situation has become more dire and it has become abundantly clear that the quarantine will continue into at least the first week of April. The concern on our part and for Bishop Keith is the matter of travel. Bishop Keith is 74 and squarely within the range of vulnerability for this virus. With that in mind, we must simply prepare ourselves for a postponement the ordination. John is fully aware of this and is willing to do what needs to be done. Please do keep John, Jessica and their family in your prayers at this time. This is just one more unavoidable disappointment for him in an already frustrating process.

Holy Week: it is becoming more obvious that the quarantine will remain in effect past the originally planned deadline of April 1. That means that it is becoming starkly clear that our Holy Week liturgies will be closed to public worship. However, we will continue to do those liturgies, though we will reduce them greatly, and will pare down the liturgies themselves.

The revised schedule for Holy Week is as follows:

Maundy Thursday Mass will be on April 9 at 7:00 p.m. as planned. There will be no foot washing.

There will only be one Good Friday liturgy on April 10 (no Stations of the Cross). The liturgy will be at 12:00 p.m.

I debated about whether we will do the Holy Saturday liturgy, but it is one of the most meaningful liturgies of Holy Week, and one that speaks loudly to us at this time. The Holy Saturday liturgy will be at 10:00 a.m. on April 11.

There will be NO Easter Vigil Mass on April 11.

We will celebrate Easter on April 12 at our regular time of 11:00 a.m. The baptism planned for Easter Day is rescheduled for another time.

All the Masses will be live streamed, as well posted to the YouTube Channel.

This is where are as we enter another week of this strange, new reality. I reiterate the message that I have continued to preach throughout this time: do not fear. Do not let anxiety and despair win out in this situation. Our God of love is close to us through all of this.

In my sermon last Sunday, I shared this:

We will get through this.

We will gather again in our church building.

We will again shake hands and hug at the Peace.

We will again share the Body and the Blood of Jesus at Holy Communion at the altar again.

We will all sit down at our post-Mass luncheon and eat our fill again.

We will all go out and do the ministries we have all been called to do again.

And this time we are going through right now will seem like a strange and truly bizarre dream.

Please hold this truth close to you as we make our way through this desert-time.

Continue to stay put, wash your hands, be safe, and pray. Pray for St. Stephen’s, for the Church, for our Nation and for the world. Please pray for me too. Know that all you continue to be included in my daily prayers. I miss those of you whom I cannot see in person. But we will see each other soon.

Fr. Jamie+ 

this week at St. Stephen’s

Due to Corona Virus, all our liturgies are being livestreamed through the St. Stephen’s Facebook group: https://facebook.com/groups/52039214842

For those who do not have Facebook, we have also started a new St. Stephen’s YouTube channel, on which all our videos will uploaded:

Wednesday March 25 – The Feast of the Annunciation
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/John Anderson, preacher
James Mackay, music

Sunday March 29  5 Lent
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Livestreamed Mass/Pledges/Prayers and concerns

Our first livestreamed Mass last evening was a rousing success! At last count, we had close to 200 people view the Mass. If you missed it, please check it out on our Facebook group page: 

Thank you to Jessica Anderson and Paul Sando for helping with the technical aspects.

Thank you to Jean Sando for preaching a wonderful sermon.

Our Sunday morning Mass will be livestreamed this Sunday March 22 at 11:00 a.m.

You can participate at home by using a few online sources:

The Book of Common Prayer can be found at: https://www.bcoponline.org

The hymns can mostly be found at: https://www.hymnary.org

This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, so we will also be blessing the dalmatic and stole that will be given to John Anderson at his Diaconal ordination.  


Please make sure you keep up on your pledges during this time. Please feel free to mail in pledges, send by online banking or by using the “donate” button on our website: stephensfargo.org

Your pledges and offerings are very important to us at this time.


Most importantly, please know that you are all in my prayers at this time.

I will continue to update you on information as it comes up. Please also check out the Facebook page, where members may also post their prayer requests and concerns.

Fr. Jamie+  

Our first livestreamed Mass on our Facebook group

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The sign on St. Stephen's front door

This week at St. Stephen's

All Public Liturgies are now cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis. Please participate in our Masses livestreamed through our Facebook page: facebook.com/groups/52039214842

Wednesday March 18
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/Jean Sando, preacher
James Mackay, music
Livestreamed through facebook.com/groups/52039214842

Sunday March 22  4 Lent/Laetare  
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Blessing of Diaconal vestments
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Livestreamed through facebook.com/groups/52039214842

All public services cancelled/Livestreaming begings TONIGHT

Dear St. Stephen’s-

I will be following the Diocesan directive and close all liturgies at St. Stephen’s to the Public beginning with tonight’s Mass.

However, all Masses will be livestreamed beginning tonight on our Facebook St. Stephen’s page: facebook.com/groups/52039214842/

Join us this evening via Facebook for our 6:00 p.m. Mass. Jean Sando will be preaching on St. Patrick.

Please continue your prayers for St. Stephen’s, the Diocese, our nation and the world during this time.

Fr. Jamie+

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear St. Stephen’s-

The Diocese has directed all congregations in the Diocese to cancel all public services.

Please pray for St. Stephen’s, the Diocese, our nation and the world during this time.


Fr. Jamie+

Monday, March 16, 2020

A Statement from the Rector

MARCH 16, 2020

The Wardens and I have been in almost constant contact over the last few weeks discussing how St. Stephen’s should respond to the Coronavirus crisis. We have taken tentative and precautionary steps, trying to follow Diocesan standards and the example of other Episcopal congregations.

            Yesterday (March 15), after Mass, the Wardens and I met with Dr. John Baird, St. Stephen’s member and semi-retired from Cass County Public Health in Public Health and General Preventative Medicine. John, as you all know, is well-trained and well-prepared in how to respond to pandemics. After that discussion, and after deep prayer, and in consultation with the Wardens, I made the decision to close the doors to public worship at St. Stephen’s beginning on Sunday, March 22.

            This was a hard decision for me. I have been committed to walk a middle road between the extreme reactions to this crisis. I am also of a very strong conviction that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is an important source of spiritual consolation in times of crisis.

            However, as I have said again and again, my main commitment is to the health and well-being on our congregation. I do not want St. Stephen’s or anything we do here to be the reason one becomes ill. I would rather err on the side of overreacting and being safe, than be guilty of underreacting and causing further illness to others.  

My main priority as your priest is your health and well-being, both spiritually and physically.

            With that in mind, I am asking the congregation of St. Stephen’s to do the following:

MASSES: Beginning on March 22, we will be suspending regular attendance at both the Sunday and Wednesday Masses. Please note that Mass will still continue to be celebrated “in house,” but with only Fr. Jamie, John Anderson, James Mackay and a very small group of assistants. Beginning this Wednesday, March 18, all of our Masses will be live-streamed so that everyone may participate in the Mass via Facebook.

FACEBOOK: I know that several members of our congregation have avoided Facebook for various reasons, and I am empathetic to those reasons. However, for the sake of remaining in community with St. Stephen’s, I am asking St. Stephen’s members to please join Facebook, if for no other reason than to join the St. Stephen’s Facebook group.

            Please know that you can join Facebook under an “alias” so that no one will know it’s you. Also know that just because you join Facebook does not mean you have to accept “friend requests” from others.

To join the Facebook St. Stephen’s group, please go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/52039214842/ Press the ‘Request to Join” button. That request will be sent to me. I am the only one who sees it and I am the only one who “approves” members to this group

If you have any questions about this, please send me an email or a text and I will help walk you through it. Please do not send me emails or comments about the “evils” of Facebook. I do not have the time or the energy to discuss those matters at this time.  

In addition to the live-streamed Masses (which one can either watch live on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. or Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. or at any time after those times), regular updates will be listed on the Facebook group. I will also update our webpage regularly, as well as our blog (ststephensfargo.blogspot.com)

INTERCESSIONS: Please send your prayer intercessions to me at my email frjamieparsley@gmail.com or by text or by Facebook message. Everyone on the prayer list will be prayed for during the Masses and during my own personal daily prayers.

CONTACT: I, along with John Anderson, will make every effort to make regular pastoral contact with all of you during this time of social isolation. I will be making phone calls or sending emails or text messages to check in. Please respond to these communications so we can remain in contact with each other.

To make my job a bit easier, please regularly check-in with me if you are able just to let me know you and your loved ones are well.

IF YOU ARE ILL: If you are ill, or just in need of contact or prayer, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time.

PLEDGES/OFFERINGS: Please do keep up your pledges during this time! Please know you can still mail offerings through regular mail and by pressing the “donate” button on the webpage (ststephensfargo.org)

PRAY: Please PRAY! Pray for our congregation, for our members, your wardens, your vestry, your organist and musicians, your Candidate for Holy Orders as he prepares for ordination, and me, your priest.

Pray for your neighbors, our country and all those affected by this crisis throughout the world.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Keep healthy and keep safe! Please socially/physically isolate as best you can during this time.

Also, please forgive any lapses or information that doesn’t get conveyed. The Wardens, the Vestry and I are all working overtime to keep St. Stephen’s running and on task during this strangely uncertain time, while also trying to maintain our own health.

In my sermon yesterday, I preached that the message we receive from God again and again throughout scripture is, “Do not fear.” That message speaks loudly to all of us today. The God who loves us and knows us intimately is telling each of us right now: “Do not fear.” Please hold these words close to you as we journey together through these uncharted waters.

Jesus, you lived in a time in which illness and mass sickness were common,
you knew the loneliness, the weakness
and the degradation times of stress and uncertainty bring;
you knew what times of fear entail.
Jesus, your suffering is the only hope,
the only reconciliation for those who endure these issues.
Be with us all as we grapple with these uncertain times.
Be a promise to us
that these present anxieties will cease;
be the hand that we can hold;
be present, Savior, for we need you now.

Fr. Jamie Parsley, Rector

Please keep in contact:
Website: Ststephensfargo.org
Blog: ststephensfargo.blogspot.com
Twitter: twitter.com/ststephensfargo
Facebook group: facebook.com/groups/52039214842

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

From the Rector and the Wardens regarding the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases at St. Stephen's


As we have said from the beginning, we do not want to contribute to the existing anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus crisis, and we have, in the last few weeks, made some real steps in moving toward keeping our congregation safe. However, as the crisis grows, a few other safeguards need to implemented.

Coronavirus is now a stark reality in the United States. Just this week, the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown, Virginia, came down  with it, and unknowingly exposed 500 members of his congregation. On March 11, 2020, the first official case of COVID-19 in North Dakota was diagnosed.

We have received some suggestions from the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota regarding how congregations in the Diocese should proceed. We have adapted those suggestions to our own unique situation here at St. Stephen’s

It is also important to remember that, in addition to Coronavirus, we are now at the peak of the Flu season. It is just good practice to take some very definitive actions the spread of illness at St. Stephen’s.

With that in mind, we are asking the congregation of St. Stephen’s to do the following:

+ HOLY WATER FONTS: The holy water fonts (namely the baptismal bowl in the narthex and the font near the sacristy) have been emptied and disinfected and will remain empty throughout the duration of Lent. Sand has been placed in the fonts as further reminders of our Lenten observance.

+AT THE PEACE: Please refrain from shaking hands at the peace or at other times (before and after Mass, for example). Waving, elbow bumps, waving the peace sign, bowing, etc. are all perfectly acceptable in place of shaking hands or hugging. Please use hand sanitizer after the Peace.
Fr. Jamie will not be shaking hands either at the door before Mass or during the Peace. He will share the “peace sign” with others, will return “elbow bumps,” bows, etc.

+ AT THE OFFERING: We will not be passing the plates for the foreseeable future. Offering plates will be placed at the front of the nave, where the first pews are located.

+ AT HOLY COMMUNION: We are asking that, at Holy Communion, only the Bread be taken by the congregation.

PLEASE REMEMBER: Holy Communion in one kind (i.e, just the Bread) is full and complete Communion in and of itself.

+COFFEE HOUR: The Vestry has decided to pare down the existing coffee hour. Beginning this Sunday (March 15) Vestry members will now serve the coffee hours. We will offering cookies, donuts, etc., which will be handed out by members of the Vestry using gloves and tongs, and using disposable utensils. Those scheduled for coffee hour during Lent are relieved of their responsibilities until Easter.

+ HAND SANITIZER/WASHING HANDS: Please take full advantage of the hand sanitizer in the nave and elsewhere throughout the church. Also, please wash your hands thoroughly.

+ IF YOU ARE ILL: please refrain from coming to church or church meetings. However, if you are unable to come to church, please contact Fr. Jamie so he can offer you an alternative for Holy Communion (an at-home visit) and include you in the intercessory prayers of St. Stephen’s.

+ SOCIAL ISOLATION: If you are feeling the need to socially isolate for the sake of not being exposed or exposing others to potential illness, please feel free to do so. However, if you do so decide, please consider other ways to continue contact with the congregation (i.e. email, Facebook, Twitter, etc). I will be making regular updates on the St. Stephen’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/52039214842/. We are also in the beginning process of posting televised episodes of both our Sunday and Wednesday Masses on the Facebook page.

Please also remember that these are all only temporary changes at St. Stephen’s. We will resume our tried and true practices once the threat is passed.

FINALLY, please be assured that there are no plans to cancel church. We will continue to celebrate Mass on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings as we always have. It is our tradition as Christians that during times of crisis, the Church and its life-giving Sacraments are places of refuge during these hard times.

Most importantly of all, please pray. Keep the Church, St. Stephen’s, those who have been affected by COVID-19, our nation and all of our fellow neighbors in your daily prayers during this time. Keep your eyes on Christ and his healing, saving, life-giving Presence. And let us move through this uncertain time together, in spirit and unity.
God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all of us
who wait or work in uncertainty.
Bring us hope that you will make us the equal
of whatever lies ahead.
Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.

Fr. Jamie Parsley, Rector
Jean Sando, Senior Warden                  Jessica Anderson, Junior Warden

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Join us this week at St. Stephen’s

Wednesday March 4
6:00 p.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/Dan Rice, preacher
James Mackay, music

Soup supper following

Friday March 6
6:00 – Stations of the Cross

Sunday March 8  2 Lent
11:00 a.m. – Holy Eucharist
Fr. Jamie, celebrant/preacher
Children’s Chapel
Coffee Hour following
Diocesan Discernment Task Force at St. Stephen’s