Rector’s Report 2014/15

Pencil Sketch of St StephensThe year 2014/15 was a splendid year for St Stephen’s. The most joyous occasion of the year was our 20th Anniversary Celebration, which was marked by the ordination of two new priests (Fr Michael Belt and Fr John Novicki) and a deacon (The Rev. Mr Wiley Hawks), as well as the setting apart of a sub-deacon (Mr Dan Bursi). It was also the 25th anniversary of my call to the rectorship of St Stephen’s.

What’s more, this June the parish will host the Annual Diocesan Synod. And during the course of it, The Rt Rev. John Vaughan, our Bishop Ordinary, will, God willing, ordain two deacons, Dan Bursi and Mark Newsome, and confer Anglican Orders on Episcopal priest, Robert Ludwig.

Frs Belt and Novicki have already made their mark on the parish. Fr Novicki has taken on the role of Youth Director, while Fr Belt has joined the preaching rotation.

Meanwhile, the indefatigable Deacon Hawks, together with Happy Riley, our Director of Pastoral Care, has continued to expand the parish’s ministry in our local health care facilities and retirement communities.

St Stephen’s provides chaplains for organisations including the U.S. Navy League, The Ancient & Honourable Mechanical Company of Baltimore and the St George’s Society. We also offer pastoral care and support at The Joseph Richey Hospice, Union Memorial Hospital and The Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Our clergy and pastoral care staff conduct regular church services at retirement communities and nursing homes, including Glen Meadows, Mays Chapel Ridge, Powerback at Brightwood, Genesis at Mays Chapel, Lorien at Mays Chapel, College Manor, Broadmead and Roland Park Place, as well as occasional services at other communities including Heart Homes, Blakehurst, Edenwald, and Keswick.

The parish continues its monthly collections of non-perishable foodstuffs and household goods for At Jacob’s Well, a charity that helps Baltimore’s mentally ill homeless population.

I am also very glad to report that Anne Hawkins, who retired after 15 years as a much loved Director of Pastoral Care, continues her work on a voluntary basis—and not just with pastoral care. Annie’s culinary talents are legendary and, thankfully, she continues to share them generously, especially with her very popular Afternoon Teas.

The Friday morning Bible Study is led by Brock Johnson, who also does sterling service as Director of Adult Education, lay reader, Sunday School teacher, and catechist.

The Knitting Circle—mentored by Cindie Baker—meets in the parish hall on Thursdays at 10am to produce beautifully crafted comforts for the patients at local health care facilities, retirement communities and folks on the parish sick list. New members are always welcome.

Adric, our choirmaster and organist, has taken over as editor of the newsletter following the departure of Don Ruthig.

Joyce Perlberg and her faithful dog Misty have retired as leaders of the Mail Room Team. Meanwhile team members Mar Bopst, Anne Hawkins, Barbara Parker, and Happy Riley would be overjoyed if a few more volunteers arrived to help them. (By the way, If you change your address or if you’re going away for few days, please let them know so they can make the necessary adjustments to the mailing list.)

The Parish Life Committee has gone from strength to strength under the joint chairmanship of Priscilla and Dick Huffman. The remarkable success of both the 2014 Cookie Walk and the 2015 Garden Party are, largely, a testament to their organising ability.

Mark you, scarcely less vital for the success of the parish’s social life are Martha Miller, prototype for the Energizer Bunny, John Karlsen, a man with a remarkable talent for interior decoration, and Colby Hawks, whose exquisite taste and remarkable diplomatic skills, ensure both the Cookie Walk and Garden Party run smoothly.

The Parish Life Committee organised a host of other events, including a diet-busting Shrove Tuesday Pancake & Sausage Supper. The committee’s Silly Summer Suppers ran through the summer and into the fall, attracting an enthusiastic following not only among parishioners, but among folks in the neighbourhood.

The parish owes a considerable debt of gratitude to the Vestry for its work in overseeing the parish’s affairs. John Cobb, Rector’s Warden (who is currently recovering from by-pass surgery) and Registrar Sev Miller have done sterling work revising the Parish By-laws. Their results of their handiwork will be presented to the upcoming Parish Annual Meeting.

Last year the parish bade farewell to People’s Warden Don Ruthig and his wife, Karen, who have moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Donna Szper, who is still recovering from a serious illness, also tendered her resignation from the vestry. The vestry invited long time parishioner John Woodall to take Donna’s place.

The vestry also recognised that, with the expansion of the church buildings, the job of People’s Warden—the officer responsible for the church fabric—has become an onerous burden for just one person, Therefore the members also appointed John Woodall and John Karlsen to succeed Mr Ruthig.

Thanks are also owed to vestrymen are Gordon Turner, People’s Warden Emeritus, and Paul Douglas, warden’s assistant emeritus; William Hawkins, our hard-working treasurer; Dr Kirby von Kessler, Brock Johnson, and J. Brice Richardson, who is also a member of the diocesan Standing Committee. At this year’s annual meeting, we shall be filling three vestry positions. The nominees are: John Woodall, J. Brice Richardson and Sev Miller, all retiring ves- trymen.

The building and grounds have never looked better, thanks to Grounds Chairmen Martha Miller and Dick Huffman, Buildings Chairmen Don Ruthig (now retired), John Woodall, and John Karlsen, not forgetting Brock Johnson (a.k.a. ‘Sparkles’), who lead a team of enthusiastic volunteers, including Colby Hawks, Judy Elliot, Sev Miller and Bill Hawkins.

Thanks to the creativity of Adric, Organist and Choirmaster, the Choir of Men & Boys has maintained a remarkably high standard despite an absence of boy trebles.

We are always on the lookout for trebles, experienced singers, as well as probationers and learners. If you know a boy who would enjoy singing and who would appreciate a splendid musical education—all for free—please let us know his name. We’d love to hire him.

The choir have maintained their splendid Choral Evensong programme. These services are generally sung on the first Sunday of the month. In addition, the choir sings regular services of Choral Eucharist and Choral Mattins. The officiant at Mattins and Evensong is usually Peter Threadgill, our head lay reader.

Our lay readers are Gordon Turner, Paul Douglas, Brock Johnson, Bob Reynolds, Dr Kirby von Kessler, and Chris Browne.

St Stephen’s Ladies Who Lunch, under the leadership of Joyce Perlberg, have enjoyed another year of fellowship and fine dining.

The Altar Guild, led by Priscilla Huffman, Ellen Reather, Judy Kight, and William Spicer, has had another busy year. Membership is open to both men and women. If you are interested in this vital work, please contact the parish office or an Altar Guild member. We are also looking for more ushers—particularly for the 11:00 AM Sunday service.

Our thanks goes to Sunday School teachers Diane Novicki (who also leads the Junior Altar Guild), Tracey Gushue, Tracy Collins, Alison Belt, and Brock Johnson. The Sunday School teachers ran a highly successful Vacation Bible School in 2014 and are hoping for even greater success this year.

Our talented Flower Guild continues to deck the sanctuary with spectacular floral arrangements. It was hard to imagine the church appearing more beautiful than it did at Christmastide, until we saw the Easter flowers.

Almost last, but very far from least, our long suffering treasurer Bill Hawkins would like to remind you that finances always get tight as summer approaches. Family vacations tend to play havoc with church cash flow. If you are planning a trip, Bill would very much appreciate it if you paid your pledge before you went away, rather than upon your return.

Meanwhile, if you would like to keep abreast of parish affairs, check a date, read a sermon, hunt through ancient newsletters or just browse generally, our website is the place to do it. You will find it at our web address: www.ststeve.com. GPH✠

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