Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Equality Is the Law of the Land

As a Reconciling Congregation, St. Stephen United Methodist Church rejoices in the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court decision that rules marriage as a civil right open to all people including same-gender couples. At the same time, we await instruction on how The United Methodist Church, which officially opposes same-sex marriage, will respond to this legal development. Here is a letter from our pastor, the Rev. Nancy DeStefano, on today's events.

A Letter From The Pastor

Dear Church Family,

Today is indeed an historic day and a day in which we can celebrate and affirm once again that equality, justice, freedom and integrity is God's wish for ALL people and All truly does mean ALL!!

As the pastor of a Reconciling Congregation this is an especially happy day!  The work that we have done and the stand that St. Stephen has taken over  our entire history is once again affirmed!

This is a day to celebrate and this Sunday we will certainly gather to give God thanks for the blessing of being in a church that seeks to include ALL people, no exceptions.

We also recognize that our work is not finished.  Just as the Supreme Court decision years ago making it illegal to ban inter-racial marriage did not end racism, we know this decision will not end the opposition to the rights of the LGBT community.  In fact, it may intensify the efforts on the part of some to find ways around the ruling and ways to continue discrimination. Now we must be diligent and courageous in our work to assure that justice for all is realized everywhere for everyone.

Also we know that many in our families, our neighborhoods, our jobs and our faith will be saddened, even outraged, by this ruling.  They sincerely believe that this decision is wrong. In their pain and fear, there will be backlash. There will be hateful and mean words. This is not a time for us to gloat but to continue to love All, even those who do not return the love.  If love is truly to win in each of our hearts we must refrain from striking back.  Rather we must proceed in confidence that God is working for the good for all people, pray that hearts will be changed, and stay focused on the goal.

Isaiah 43:19   "See,I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

The work of God in building the kingdom continues.  We are blessed to be co-builders with God.  May we perceive the new thing God is doing, persevere in our commitment and rejoice in this step forward in total confidence that with God love wins!!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vacation Bible School Is Coming!

Come sing and dance, play games and make crafts and watch Bible stories come alive in this year's Vacation Bible School "Jerusalem Marketplace." We will dress in costume and share marketplace activities. We'll create crafts such as pottery, weaving and jewelry-making. Each day we'll see Bible stories about Jesus come alive through daily dramas taking place around the marketplace well.

The entire family can enjoy the activitie that are geared for children ages 4 through 12. Children under 4 are welcome, but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian age 18 or older.

There is no charge for the program, but registration is required in order to provide enough snacks and supplies for participants. Click here for online registration.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Prayers for Phoenix Witnesses to Love

As we did on Pentecost Sunday, let's continue to pray for the community in and around Phoenix, AZ. In addition to the campaign against The Fountains UMC in nearby Fountain Hills, Phoenix has faced armed demonstrations outside a local mosque. Fortunately, hundreds of Christians and others – possibly as many as 1,000 people – turned out to stand with their Muslim neighbors against the tide of hatred. Please send our courageous sisters and brothers in Phoenix all the spiritual support we can muster as they witness to the power of God's Love! And may we take their example as our model if and when hatred arises here in the Dallas area.
Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. Photo Courtesy of Rev. Rob Rynders, UM pastor