Monday, November 30, 2015

Picture Advent: Hope

Here's the picture of Hope for both Jamie Guthrie and Grandma Frankie: Scarlet's first birthday.

Picture Advent!

St. Stephen UMC members and friends are invited to "Picture Advent" as our devotional observance during this season of preparation for Jesus' birth. The full schedule of daily devotions is described in this chart (click on the chart for a full-size view):

Send your photos to our website email, Photos will be posted as often as they are received.

To get us started, Rev. Nancy DeStefano has submitted this photo as her picture of "hope" accompanied by a meditation from the website:

How do you picture hope? In the midst of the troubles of this world where do you find God's hope? Consider this reflection from Sacred Space:

We are here for a project so audacious that something within us finds it hard to believe: we are here to transform ourselves and our world. If we cannot believe this, it is because we have downsized our beliefs. It is our greatness rather than our littleness that intimidates us. But hope can heal us, for hope unsettles us with the passionate unrest that propels us toward great things, and it is imagination that gives us the entrance ticket into the hope-filled world of possibility. We can hope in God, for God is the true fulfillment of everything for which we long and desire. God promises us that the best is yet to come.

How will you picture Advent this year?

St. Stephen Supports Native Americans' Sovereignty

Here is a photo of the quilt square that represents St. Stephen UMC's support of the Mississippi Band of the Choctaw in its defense against Dollar General, which is resisting the prosecution of a supervisor for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old store intern. The quilt was made for St. Stephen by Cynthia Astle at the invitation of Rev. Nancy DeStefano and introduced to the congregation on Sunday, Nov. 29. Following is latest information from the organizations sponsoring a demonstration Dec. 7 in which the Monument Quilt will be displayed:

"FORCE and NIWRC are organizing a demonstration on December 7th at what could turn out to be the most devastating Supreme Court decisions for Native Americans in half a century.

"Despite the fact that its store supervisor sexually assaulted a 13-year-old, Dollar General is fighting the survivor’s family and the survivor’s tribe to avoid paying any penalty for the assault of a minor interning at their store. If ruled in Dollar General’s favor, this case would severely limit all American Indian Nations' ability to protect their citizen from crimes like the sexual assault this young person experienced.

"Native women experience sexual assault 2.5 more times than any other ethnic group. 88% of perpetrators of violence against Native women are non-Native. Sexual Assault in Indian Country is already at a crisis level and this decision could make it worse."

For more information, visit The Monument Quilt website.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Our Bishop Urges Us to Welcome Refugees

In the wake of the attacks on Paris and Beirut and the backlash against refugees, North Texas Bishop Mike McKee has issued a strong statement of support for welcoming refugees of all nations to the United States. He bases his support on his own experience as a pastor and on Matthew 25. We encourage everyone to read Bishop McKee's statement here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Beyond Bethlehem to Aid Refugees

United Methodists are joining together to gather resources that will aid refugees during this holiday season. This video featuring the Rev. Mike Slaughter introduces the "Beyond Bethlehem" project.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Faith, not Fear

As Americans debate national security and refugee aid, here as some observations from the top executive of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society:

Find the General Secretary's full comments on the refugee crisis here:

And here is the response of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), our relief and recovery agency located at the General Board of Global Ministries:
Read more about this at

Friday, November 6, 2015

Council Meeting and Charge Conference Coming

Charting St. Stephen UMC's course for the coming year will take place Sunday, Nov. 8, at two meetings. 

First, the monthly All Church Pot Luck Lunch & Church Council will take place at
12:30 p.m. after worship. Everyone is welcome to both the lunch and the council meeting.

Next, the annual Charge Conference will take place at 6:00 p.m. at Ridgewood Park UMC, 6445 E. Lovers Lane in Dallas. We are part of a "cluster" of churches that will meet. According to United Methodist rules, the Charge Conference is the annual official business meeting of the congregation. We will report our activities to Metro District Superintendent, the Rev. Cammy Gaston, and take any votes required by our church law, the Book of Discipline, for administration in the coming year. This includes voting on the slate of congregation leaders selected by the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee led by our pastor, the Rev. Nancy DeStefano.

These meetings are essential to organizing our church administration to fulfill the ministry and mission of St. Stephen UMC. Everyone who can is encouraged to attend both meetings in order to receive information and to vote on leadership and finances. Those who can't attend are asked to pray for St. Stephen's leadership and for the future of our congregation.  

Mid-Week Service Begins

Offering spiritual respite from busy days, St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Mesquite will begin a mid-week service of communion and prayer Nov. 4.

The Rev. Nancy DeStefano, St. Stephen’s pastor, will lead Holy Communion at 6 p.m. each Wednesday. The contemplative service will include times of silent prayer and meditation, and is slated to last about 30 minutes. The United Methodist Church welcomes all Christian believers to participate in Holy Communion.

St. Stephen UMC’s vision is to share God’s unconditional love with all the world. The church is located about one mile west of I-635 at 2520 Oates Drive, Mesquite, TX. For more information, call the church office at (972) 279-3112.