church news

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