Monday, August 28, 2017

Events Kick into High Gear in September

Get ready to kick into high gear with church events starting in September!

All the UMC Reconciling Congregations will be marching together in the PRIDE Parade on Sept. 17, led by the St. Stephen UMC float! This year the celebration will be spread over two days, with the Festival (with information booths and a family zone) happening on Saturday, Sept. 16 and the Parade itself on Sunday, Sept. 17. Volunteers are needed to man our booth on Saturday, to help build the float, and to walk in the parade.

In order to facilitate as many folks getting to the parade as possible, the Worship Committee and Pastor Roy Atwood are planning a shorter service (without our usual third Sunday Communion) that day. We will also celebrate St. Stephen’s 58th birthday that Sunday and invite you to bring your Pennies from Heaven donation to that service. A Taize' service is being planned for Sept. 24; more details coming from Worship.

The fall is the time for many special observances including Laity Sunday on Oct. 15, and Music Heritage Sunday on Oct. 22. Charge Conference will be Oct. 22 at 6 pm at White Rock UMC. Our Love Feast will be Nov. 19. Also, in the evening of Nov. 19 will be a combined Thanksgiving service of the four Mesquite area UMC’s at First UMC.

Mark your calendars NOW so you don't miss any of these exciting opportunities for witness, fellowship, and service!

Standing Up for Love

Several St. Stephen UMC members joined some 3,000 Dallas folks on Saturday, Sept. 19 at a downtown rally to stand up for love against the tide of racism and white supremacy that has washed over the United States this summer.

Joining the crowd outside Dallas City Hall are (clockwise from left) Gina Hedgecock, Jessica Fulenwider, Michael Munden, Tom Zolnerwich, Keith Fulenwider, Nina Thompson, Teddi Fulenwider and Amy Martindale.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Join in Our 'Visible Witness'

Today, Aug. 19, is a big day of "visible witness" for St. Stephen UMC folks. We will gather at 5 p.m. at the church to carpool to the Combined Reconciling Churches dinner at Greenland Hills UMC starting at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., some will depart Greenland Hills for the "In Solidarity" rally at Dallas City Hall scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
Some notes on today's events:
If you have a St. Stephen T-shirt, please wear it so we'll be visible, whether or not you're going to the rally.
The Combined Reconciling Churches dinner is a time for us to get to know the folks from the other six LGBTQ-affirming congregations around Dallas. It's a typical Methodist potluck, so bring a dish to share and your biggest smiles.
Keep in mind that the heat index is forecast to be 101 degrees at 7 p.m. today. As much as you may wish to attend the rally, please take care of yourself FIRST if you have any health concerns regarding extreme heat. St. Stephen will be well represented at the downtown Dallas event, and you can still support the rally with your prayers.
At all times, remember our vision: To share God's unconditional love with the world.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Racism, White Supremacy Are Not of God

Interfaith clergy marched in Charlottesville, Va., as a counter-protest to
white supremacy demonstrations Aug. 11 and 12.
Meme Courtesy of a Facebook friend

By Cynthia Astle
St. Stephen UMC Communications Chair

The racially motivated violence that occurred Aug. 11-13 in Charlottesville, Va., poses a new challenge for the people of St. Stephen United Methodist Church. We are proud to say that our influence sparked the desegregation of the Mesquite Independent School District in the 1960s, but in the decades since our visible witness against America's history of slavery and oppression, specifically of African Americans, has slackened.

During the Aug. 13 Council meeting's open forum, those of us in leadership discussed the events of Charlottesville and what St. Stephen's response could be. In the brief time we had, we reaffirmed our commitment to resist the evil of racism (as we promised Sunday during the reception of new members), but we were not able to come to a plan of specific actions.

In hopes of informing and energizing more discussion in the near future, and in a spirit of prayer, I'd like to offer the following suggestions for our consideration. They come from an article written by the Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt serves as the Rueben Job Professor of Spirituality at United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and directs the Job Center for Spiritual Direction. An Episcopal priest, Fred is a friend and mentor of mine and the author of several excellent books, including "What God Wants for Your Life" and "The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times."

From Dr. Fred Schmidt via Facebook:

"Plainly and without question, both the hatred and prejudice expressed last night (Aug. 11) and the attack on counter-protesters today (Aug. 12) are murderous acts. Neither the words nor the actions of these self-styled supremacists are protected by the Constitution. Nor is there any way in which to justify behavior of this kind as even remotely 'Christian.' Indeed, the religious and patriotic patina wrapped around the rhetoric of this group is reminiscent of the entirely cynical manipulation of the Gospel by Adolf Hitler and his inner circle.
  • We need to condemn actions of this kind without qualification.
  • Do what we can to foster a climate in which such actions face collective resistance and condemnation.
  • Build on the progress we have made in race relations.
  • Recognize the places where healing has yet to take root and strive to do what we can to foster progress.
  • Practice personal vigilance that opens our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit in places where our own attitudes and prejudices remain unredeemed.
  • Stand alongside our brothers and sisters who are the victims of groups like this.
  • Contradict, at every turn, the efforts of those groups to wrap their behavior in the mantle of the Church or the Constitution.
  • And support the lawful prosecution of anyone who incites violence or commits murder in the name of any creed.

"As much as I appreciate the feelings that prompted the visceral reaction of Virginia's governor when he told the protesters in Charlottesville to "go home," in truth, this behavior should have no home among us."

In addition to Fred's suggestion, as Communications Chair I think it's important for St. Stephen folks to know that our resident bishop, Bishop Michael McKee, issued an episcopal letter over the weekend urging North Texas pastors and churches to stand up to the sin of white supremacy. You can read his letter here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

School Supplies Due Sunday, Aug. 13

The Outreach committee is requesting school supplies. Our food distribution families will choose their supplies and the remainder will be taken to Florence and Shands Elementary schools.

This year we ask that you donate ONLY the items listed below.  We have chosen these items because they are the most requested and the ones that sometimes are needed because of cost.

  • #2 PENCILS (12 PACK)

Please bring all supplies to the church Aug.13.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A 4-Minute Video with Lots of Heart

Tom Council recommended this animated short video that was recently profiled on KRLD Radio. As a Reconciling Congregation, we feel it's important for us to understand what LGBTQ teens go through when forming their first relationships (as if adolescence wasn't hard enough!).

Does Anyone Have a Freezer?

The Outreach committee is in need of a freezer for the monthly Food Distribution program. If you have a freezer that you would be willing to donate or sell (for a really super low price), please contact the church office or contact Barbara Caton.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Special Music This Coming Sunday

We look forward to special music this Sunday! Our homegrown opera star, Andrew Simpson,  and Danielle MacMillan will sing "Ave Verum Corpus" by Karl Jenkins for the offertory at St. Stephen UMC, 2520 Oates Dr., Mesquite, TX. Service starts at 10:50 am. All are welcome.