From The Pastor’s Desk

Pastor Jen Hoffman Email:

Spring is here and Easter is almost upon us! As we give thanks for sunshine and warmer weather, declining Covid numbers and vaccines, we also give thanks for a future that holds more opportunities for us to begin to gather. Thanks be to God for the strength and patience and perseverance we have been given over the last year. God is truly faithful and I thank each of you for your patience during this unique season of the church. Although it will still be some time before things truly look like they “used to” at St. Stephen, it is with great pleasure that I
write to you about our plans leading up to and beyond Holy Week.

For starters, we have moved to Phase One (see Phase One details on page 4 of this newsletter). This means that staff and small church groups may meet at church during the week observing
our protocols for masks and social distancing. Any groups who wish to meet (like quilters, committees, etc.) should let Mark know when they are meeting and where so we are able to
clean the space after it has been used.

Palm Sunday: To prepare for Palm Sunday, we will be making palms available for pickup at church on Thursday and Friday, March 25th and 26th, between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, and Saturday, March 27th between 1 and 2 pm. The palms will be located just inside the doors to the parish hall. Please join us for a live-stream of our Palm Sunday
worship at our usual time, 9 am on March 28th.

Maundy Thursday: We will be offering “drive through communion” out in front of St. Stephen from 12-1 pm on Thursday, April 1st. Please drive up to the doors by the elevator and Pastor Jen will distribute communion using the bread/wine cups we used during our worship at the park. We ask that you come masked, remain in your cars, and approach from the
direction of 6th Street for better traffic flow. All who come will be served! Then, join us for our live-streamed worship at 6:30 pm. It would be helpful for you to have a bowl of warm water and a towel available for use during the service. We will be engaging in hand washing in lieu of our traditional foot washing.

Good Friday: Our Good Friday service will be live-streamed at 6 pm on the evening of April 2nd. Please join us as we present worship centered around a dialogue called “Jesus and the Adversary”.

Easter Sunday: We will have two services on Easter Sunday. One will be an in person service at 8 am, and the second will be a live-streamed service at 9 am. If you desire to attend the in person service, please call the church and leave a message with your name and how many in your household will be attending. We will be observing social distancing and
requiring masks. There will not be live singing, but we are including communion. When you arrive at church you will be given a communion cup to take to your seat, which will be opened by you at the appointed time during the service. A trash receptacle will be available for you to dispose of the empty cup following the service. For our live-streamed service we will be doing our traditional Easter service with singing and communion.

Following worship on Easter Sunday, the Council will be meeting at their regular meeting time to discuss further re-opening plans. We do not have a date yet, but it’s likely we will have one following that meeting. Although we are excited about the prospect of gathering again, there are many factors that contribute to our decision making. Thank you
once again for your patience! For those who are wanting to wait longer to return, know that we are committed to providing a live-stream experience in addition to what we provide in terms of in person worship when that happens.

Whew! That is A LOT of information! Feel free to read it and read it again, highlight it, jot notes, and make reminders for yourself. God bless us as we prepare for and engage in Holy Week observances. And thanks be to our risen Lord for renewed life and resurrection hope!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Jen