From The Pastor’s Desk

Pastor Jen Hoffman Email:

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are
called according to God’s purpose. Romans 8:28

Grace and peace to you. By now, you should have received my letter to you
regarding the end of my call here at St. Stephen. 2020 and 2021 have been full
of so much change and transition that it is difficult for me to present you with
one more. But I was reminded on Pentecost of just how much the Holy Spirit
works through times like these.

Growing up watching my dad preach from the pulpit each week and engage with
church members, I always wondered how he knew when it was time to move on.
When I finally asked him, he said, “I stay until I feel I have used my gifts to stretch them in all the ways
that I can, and then I make room for the next person to do the same in different ways. And I pay
attention to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it gives gentle nudges and sometimes they are more direct,
but they are difficult to ignore.” And of course, he prayed. A lot.

These nudges have become not so gentle for me over the last two years. And in all honesty, I didn’t
want to acknowledge them because I am comfortable here at St. Stephen. I have enjoyed my work of
preaching and healing and listening and building relationships and teaching. I have enjoyed quilting
with you and having coffee and desserts after church while checking in with you. I have been blessed to
engage in the sacraments with you: to pour water over the heads of the newly baptized, to place
crosses on the foreheads of those who, at least for now, are leaving us, and to place the bread and wine
in your hands as you knelt at the rail. I have enjoyed watching your children grow and celebrating
milestones with them, and I have been grateful for the trust you placed in me as we walked through the
more difficult moments of your lives together, wrestling with faith, illness, difficult news, heartache,
fear, and disappointment. I couldn’t have asked for a better first call. But I know deep in my soul that
you need what the person who follows me will offer, and I pray you will be open to it. There is so much
richness to be found in the Body of Christ here at St. Stephen, but there is also so much potential for
further learning and growth.

In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that it is necessary for him to go away so that the Holy Spirit can
show up and work among them, revealing truth to the world. I am not Jesus, but it is now my time to
step away and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the next step on your journey together here and guide you
forward. I am already praying that what the Holy Spirit reveals will bring you life and a renewed sense
of purpose.

A blessing and prayer: Gracious God, give the people of St. Stephen all that they need in the days
ahead as they move through this time of change. May God, who loves you and calls you into
meaningful work, walk with you, bringing all things together for good. Amen.

Pastor Jen