Sunday Formation Begins Sept. 16

As Christians, we are always being formed intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually throughout our lives. We are not finished being formed until our death. That is why the parish offers formation in various forms for adults as well as children and youth. 

The fall schedule for Sunday Adult Formation begins this Sunday, September 16. There are two offerings which will start at 9:30 a.m. Faithful Families is for that Faithful Families is for children, youth, and adults who are helping to raise them. This intergenerational offering will be held in the Bentley Room, upstairs from the office wing. 

The other offering will be a series of forums which will culminate in a new class focusing on introductory spiritual disciplines. All begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude by 10:20. Here is the line up with locations: 

 September 16-23: Make a Joyful Noise: An Experience of Choir; Nave 

This is a two session Open House to experience the ministry of the choir and to consider participation in this group as part of your spiritual practice and as an approach to the Holy   

September 23: St. Stephn’s Vision: Strategic Ministry; Havens Center 

St. Stephen’s spent last year in discernment of our call as a parish. Now the Vestry would like to share the fruit of that effort and the ways this plan will shape our community. 

September 30: Faith in Action; Havens Center 

The Service Ministry Team of the parish will lead us in a process to uncover what is most important to each of us as citizens as we approach the election season and the next session of the legislature. This offering will be informed by our work with The Metropolitan Organization. 

October 7: Animals of Blessing; Pecore Hall 

In observance of St. Francis Day, we will gather with our pets to celebrate all the ways our pets and the animals of creation enhance our knowledge and love of God and each other. Joining with the families from our School we will invite our pets to church as we share stories, activities, and treats. 

October 15-November 25: The Way of Love; Havens Center 

What is a spiritual life and what are practices which create and nourish it? Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has created this introduction to a rule of life inviting us to turn, learn, pray, worship, bless, go and rest. The Kadosh team will facilitate this course. You can learn more at https://www.episcopalchurch.org/explore-way-love

Changes in People and Places

There are several changes that have occurred in St. Stephen’s staffing over the summer and in the use of our space. 

The position of parish administrative assistant has been eliminated.  A new joint position with the School, Main Campus Administrator, has been created.  Sylvia Swain has been moved to this new role.  The duties of the Main Campus Administrator will include hospitality to all who enter our campus, maintaining security, controlling the facilities calendar, managing our outside users, and coordinating the work of our volunteer office angels.  The duties of this role will be performed from the front desk so that there is always a person stationed to greet people and to answer the phones.  So if you have questions about booking a room for a class or meeting, calendaring your wedding or funeral, getting certified for Safeguarding God’s Children or People, getting a key or access code, ordering supplies, prices for space rental for meetings of outside groups, contact Sylvia Swain.

A new workroom has been created on the first floor to allow staff and faculty a central location to get their mail, make copies, and execute projects.  The office angels will also use this space.  Office supplies will also be maintained here. 

The Sexton position has also changed.  The Church and School have contracted with Educlean to clean our campus.  This has allowed the sexton position to become focused on maintenance of the campus, in conjunction with our Maintenance Supervisor.  John Veillon will continue to help with the set up of events and on Sunday mornings, but the bulk of his duties will be on maintenance and not cleaning. If you have questions or concerns about items that need to be fixed or cleaned, contact Juan Rodriguez, our Campus Maintenance Supervisor.  He communicates directly with the custodial services company.  John Veillon is the member of our staff who is responsible for weekend set up and take down, making coffee, and ensuring contact with first responders.

Bob Hymson, our former Director of Business and Operations, left in July for a position in Austin.  The School is in the process of searching for a new person.  The Church receives support from this role, but the position is funded by the School.  This person is a resource to the Church’s finance committee and handles issues of human resources, budget, cash flow, and insurance for the Church.

Toni Morales, St. Stephen’s Church and School’s Director of Communications, will be leaving her position next week to move to India.  Toni has done excellent work expanding the reach of St. Stephen’s in both print and online.  We will miss her.  Interviews for a new director are ongoing and an offer will be issued soon.   Contact the Director of Communications when you would like to include an announcement in the bulletin or our online newsletter, have a prayer request, want to post something on our St. Stephen’s Facebook page, or want to share a photograph or story idea.

Ryan Hawthorne, the Youth Missioner and Interim Director of Spiritual Life, will be moving offices to the first floor.  This move will afford her more access to Church youth and students. Contact Ryan when you want to volunteer to work with children or youth, have ideas for Christian Formation for adults, have questions about the format of Safeguarding God’s Children or People, ask her questions about our School, or  offer to share your skills with our afterschool program in our Makerspace.

- The Reverend Lisa Hunt

My Hair is Falling Out and Other Ways of Dealing with Change

change ahead graphic.jpg

I was recently in an Uber going to the airport and engaged my driver, a tech person who had been laid off recently, in a conversation about his work and plans.  He extolled the wonders of disruption as a value, an unmitigated good.  It was also the case that his personal life had been filled with disruptive change.

Is disruption an unmitigated good?  Is the upset of order usually creative or is it just destructive?  What makes the difference?

My most profound recent experience of change was engaging in the bishop election in Newark. What struck me as I was going through it and in its aftermath was my physical response to the emotional and spiritual change that was in the offing.  My hair started falling out.  Not big clumps, but lots of individual strands over the months.  My hair dresser noticed it and commented; I got tests because I thought my thyroid might be out of whack.  But as time went on, I realized my coming baldness (that’s what I feared), was connected to my anxiety about change…even though elements of the prospect were exciting.

In the Bible, there is an ambivalence about change.  For example, in Exodus we are told that God considered wiping out the children of Israel because of their faithlessness and grumbling, but Moses pleaded with God and the Holy One had a change of mind.  In much of the Bible there is an insistence that God does not change.  Similarly, there is exhortation for human beings to repent, which is to change from evil and to choose good, but there is also commandment to stay steadfast—to not change.

There are many changes in our culture and at St. Stephen’s right now.  We are embarking on the next stage of our capital campaign.  We are saying good bye to staff we have valued and loved:  Bob Hymson our Director of Operations and Finance, has taken a position in Austin; Toni Morales-Awobokun, our Director of Communication and Growth will be moving to India and leaving us in mid-September.  We are rethinking our Christian Formation offerings and space.  We are beginning to implement the Strategic Plan and reorganizing our ministries to support it.  People are leaving St. Stephen’s and new folks are joining.  It is a lot!

While our collective hair may not be falling out, it is true that some or many of will not experience these disruptions good.  Some of them will not be, but we won’t know until we have time to live into the changes and weigh their effects.  Others of us thrive on adventure and experimentation.  The Gospel metric that is most important is do the changes bear fruit? 

So as we head into the fall and a new year of learning, let’s watch for the buds of fruit and for the hair balls.  May we bear with one another in love in the bonds of peace.

- The Reverend Lisa Hunt

General Convention Resolution

Last week during the General Convention, a woman deputy from Colorado was not admitted to the floor of the House of Deputies while nursing her infant. This happened to my sister in 2015 as well. 

Because the entire deputation and several women of other deputations rose resistance, the President of the House of Deputies apologized later that day, and said all women will be permitted to nurse their infants under one year on the floor of the House. Precedent for this existed within the US Senate earlier this year, when Tammy Duckworth brought her baby to the floor of the Senate after a resolution was passed unanimously. 

We women deputies and past deputies were not satisfied by this ruling, because parents sometimes need to be with their infants whether or not it is feeding time, and this should not prevent a parent from serving as a deputy. We also discussed that many parents nurse their babies past one year, and no extended nursing child should be denied this practice because their parent is a deputy. So, we spent all of yesterday and last night crafting a resolution that will ensure infants under one year are permitted on the floor of the House of Deputies. 

On Friday July 6, my sister, Deputy Michael Funston from Kansas, currently a nursing mother, filed a resolution containing these clauses. It has been named D087, and will go through a legislative committee soon, before making it to the floor of the House of Deputies. 

The resolution will read as follows, unless it is amended by the Rules of Order committee: 

Amend House of Deputies Rules of Order II: Parents Nursing or Bottle-Feeding Children

Resolved, That House of Deputies Rules of Order IV(A) is hereby amended as follows:

(A) Floor Privileges. No one will be admitted to the floor except Deputies, officers of the House, and:

(1) the Treasurer of the General Convention;

(2) other persons authorized by the President or Secretary, to assist in the conduct of the business of the House;

(3) other persons invited or authorized by the President;

(4) infants under one year of age with a parent or guardian who is a deputy, with space provided to permit feeding while on the floor and access to voting while feeding; however, a nursing parent will not be asked to wear a cover or move to the designated feeding area;

(5) children over one year old who require nursing or bottle-feeding; provided that children are permitted only while feeding; a nursing parent will not be asked to wear a cover or move to the designated feeding area;

(6) caregivers of children, to bring a child to a feeding parent when the child needs to be fed, escorted in and out as directed by the President.

Explanation

No parent deputy should have to choose between serving the church and being a parent.

The first years of life are vital to the development of children, and the bond that is created through parental feeding is an important component in this development. It is important for the child’s immune system, and in the case of nursing, it’s important for a parent to nurse regularly for their health.

On Monday, July 9, this resolution was passed by the committee on Rules of Order.

 The Reverend Sarah Knoll Sweeny
The Reverend Sarah Knoll Sweeny

David and Goliath Speak to Us Now

David and Goliath Speak to Us Now

As we are grappling with the human cost of our country’s policies on immigration and the treatment of children in this system, I have felt such a mixture of emotions.  Outrage, disgust, concern, compassion, fear, conviction, pride have all flooded my mind, consciousness and heart this week.  I have become increasingly aware of how strong and fragile our moral compasses are as a nation and as Christians in the face of difficult economic, legal, political, and ethical challenges.

They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love - Celebrating Pride

They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love - Celebrating Pride

One of my favorite songs students sing in chapel at our day school is, They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love. I love to hear our students sing out, “we will work with each other, we will work side by side. And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

The Rev. Lisa Hunt Remains Rector

Dear St. Stephen’s Community,

I am writing to inform you that I am staying in Houston as rector of St. Stephen’s! The clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese of Newark have elected another Reverend to be the next Bishop Diocesan. While I am honored to have been considered for this ministry, I know that the Holy Spirit is at work and that the right call has been made for us all.

I am thrilled to be continuing my exciting ministry among you. We have much to accomplish together and I am anticipating with joy our work to make our dreams become reality.

While this election process provided me an important outlet to reflect on the meaning of my call, my husband Bruce and I are sure that this decision is God’s will for us now.

 The Reverend Lisa Hunt

The Reverend Lisa Hunt

 

I am one of four nominees for the Bishop Diocesan of Newark

Several months ago, I was invited to enter a confidential process to discern a call to be the Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of Newark, in New Jersey. I have been raised up for election to this ministry, along with three others. I am sharing this news with you now because I want you to hear it from me, as it is shared with the people of the Diocese of Newark this morning, and I need to ask for your prayers. I am committed to my ministry here and excited by it, and I feel I must be faithful to what may be God's calling. Whatever happens, I know we will all be serving God with faithfulness.

Diocesan Council Recap by Laura Thewalt

Episcopal Diocese of Texas 2018 Council was held in Waco February 15-17. St. Stephen's delegation was Carvel Glenn, James Ozga, Gary Patterson, Laura Thewalt and Rev. Lisa Hunt. 

Thursday's highlights included the opening Eucharist at First Baptist Waco with the Rt. Rev. Jane Alexander, Bishop of Edmonton preaching. Following the worship service we celebrated 40 years of women's ordination in the Diocese of Texas with a video presentation as well as several women clergy of the diocese sharing their experiences in ministry. St. Stephen's represented by wearing t-shirts with Helen's photo on them. 

Friday began the business of council starting with bible study and plenary sessions which included speakers from Project Curate (kyo͝oˈrāt)  Matthew, Secunda and Brandi sharing authentically how they are working on social justice and racial reconciliation in the fifth ward of Houston, encouraging the attendees of council to look for way to practice the same in our own communities and neighborhoods.

Saturday elections for Standing Committee, Executive Board and other bodies were held. Also, a presentation about the search and call process for the next Bishop Suffragan of the West region featuring artwork by committee member and St. Stephen's own Carvel Glenn. Also on Saturday, Council took up the approval of the Diocesan budget where our Rector, Rev. Lisa Hunt spoke about the culture shift in the Diocese to being a well-resourced Diocese as it relates to the compensation of the top-paid Diocesan staff against the backdrop of all clergy compensation. The amendment Council voted on was to cap the highest paid Diocesan staff at 5% with the difference being reallocated to Rural and Hispanic ministries. There was a vote by tellers and the margin of defeat of the resolution was 75 votes, illustrating the issue resonated with many at Council. The Bishop's address largely focussed on the matter of vocations in the future of the Diocese. 

The Diocese of Texas Council report is also on the EDOT website

 Gary Patterson, "Helen Havens", Laura Thewalt, Lisa Hunt. Missing: Carvel Glenn and James Ozga.

Gary Patterson, "Helen Havens", Laura Thewalt, Lisa Hunt. Missing: Carvel Glenn and James Ozga.

Laura M. Thewalt