Dear St. Stephen’s Community,
I am pleased to announce that I have called two new staff members to assist St. Stephen’s in our parish ministry. At our Annual Parish Meeting, the Vestry and I shared with you the new strategic plan for our future. In order to achieve those goals, the Vestry and I have worked together to create a staff configuration which we hope will support us in realizing our shared vision.
The two new positions are that of Missioner for Congregational Development and Priest Associate. The Missioner for Congregational Development will manage the non-clergy staff of St. Stephen’s, conduct lay leadership development training, implement and oversee small groups and evangelism efforts, and other duties related to the fulfillment of the strategic plan. This will be a part-time position at 32 hours per week.
The other new position is the Priest Associate. The Priest Associate will be a liturgical minister who will preach and celebrate the Eucharist regularly and occasionally teach and offer pastoral care. This is a very part-time paid position at an average of 8-10 hours per week.
As rector, I will continue to offer pastoral care, do the pastoral ministries of burials and funerals and I will preach and celebrate Eucharist regularly. I will continue to exercise primary responsibilities for the oversight of the parish, the capital campaign, and the Church/School collaboration. I recognize that my gifts do not lie in implementation administration.
Ryan Hawthorne will continue to exercise her ministry at our Day School as the Interim Director of Spiritual Life and as Youth Missioner to our EYC.
With joy, I welcome the Reverend Ryan Beaty as our new Missioner for Congregational Development and the Reverend Sarah Knoll Sweeney as our new Priest Associate.
Ryan is not a new face to our community, having served for four years as the chaplain of St. Stephen’s School from 2012 – 2016. He holds degrees and graduate certifications from Southwestern University, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and Rice University in the areas of divinity and non-profit leadership. In addition to St. Stephen’s School, Ryan has previously served at VillageHouston Church as founding/lead pastor (where his wife Korista Lewis is now the lead pastor, and he continues to serve today as a member of the leadership team), as well as in denominational and parish leadership in Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri. He has also founded and leads Sanctuary Network, a mentoring and care ministry from ministers and family members across denominational lines in the Houston area.
Ryan will have regular office hours during the week at the church and join us for worship at least one Sunday a month. He will assist me in implementing the plan, overseeing the organizational restructuring. He will office on the first floor, moving into my office, next to the Head of School. His first day in the office will be Monday, February 12, and will be with us on Sunday, February 18. Please make him feel welcome.
Likewise, Sarah is no stranger to St. Stephen’s. She and her husband, Jami, and son, Ira, have worshipped with us for four years. Sarah is an ordained Episcopal priest who currently serves full time as Director of Spiritual Care Education at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. She teaches pastoral care courses throughout the Episcopal Church and supervises accredited units of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) year-round. Before starting with the seminary this fall, she served as a CPE Supervisor at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital for four years.
Sarah will be with us on average 8-10 hours per week. She will share liturgical ministries with me: preaching, celebrating the Eucharist, assisting in designing our prayer, and occasionally teaching. She will attend our staff meetings. She will be maintaining her full-time vocation as a seminary instructor and travels often in that capacity, so her time and focus with us is narrow. Her excellence in preaching and knowledge of our community through her attendance among us will be invaluable. Sarah will be sharing an office with me upstairs in the Little Room, adjacent to the Sumners Room. Her first day with us will be Sunday, February 18.
I am excited to have these new colleagues and for us to have the benefit of their skills and perspectives in this critical season of our ministry.
The Reverend Lisa Hunt