Loaves & Fishes Service Day

Several St. Stephen’s parishioner families join in the Loaves & Fishes ministry at Woodlake Lutheran in Richfield last Friday, October 15, serving 60+ dinner guests a meal of potato and turkey soup, balsamic roasted veggies, and cheesy bread.

The Bizal, Case, Cruz and Kent families had a great time working and serving together – Look for communications in coming months for the next opportunity for you and your family to serve!

Loaves and Fishes (L&F) has been serving hot meals to those in need throughout seven counties in Minnesota since 1982 and St. Stephen’s has served with L&F for many years.

Parishioners Join in Back-to-School Picnic

Returning to school is an exhilarating time for most children. But for families experiencing housing instability, this time of year can be a daunting experience.

This August, St. Stephen’s parishioners, along with volunteers from 5 partner congregations, were fortunate to join in a joyous back-to-school picnic that celebrated families who have “graduated” from Beacon’s Families Moving Forward (FMF) shelter program into stable housing.

The picnic was a great opportunity for the FMF staff, volunteers and families, some of whom are now a part of FMF’s Keys to Success program in which St. Stephen’s participates, to reconnect while being treated to a barbecue dinner. Along with games, face painting and health and wellness information, each child received a backpack which they eagerly filled with new school supplies donated by two of the sponsoring congregations.

Our parishioners, Kris Newcomer, Cathy Cella, John Ellingboe, Janet Hecht and Lisa Taylor had a great time joining in the celebration with all the families, staff and partner volunteers from Westminster Presbyterian, Valley Community Presbyterian, Colonial Church, and Trinity Lutheran.
A special thanks to two of our newest members, Janet and Stephen Hecht, for donating the backpacks!

White Earth Trip – Perspectives From Our Rice Lake Partners

This July, 28 youth and adults headed north for a 1 week mission trip at White Earth Indian Reservation. The mission team served in several ways with the people of Rice Lake. One team built a raised platform and beautiful communion rail for the Episcopal church while the other team led a camp and activities at the Boys & Girls club doing crafts, games, and stories along with serving lunch for about 50 kids every day. (See the photo gallery below.)

Below we share a letter from the Rice Lake leaders, who have served as our partners for four years, sharing their perspectives and thanks for the team’s work.

Dear Saints of St. Stephens,

When I was a kid…the most fun thing we did early in the summer was a week of what we called “day camp”!  It made our summers for sure!  I still see the faces of the saints who helped to put it on, though I suspect most are now running a camp in heaven. 

My point?  I can tell you that I see the same expressions in the faces of the mission group from St. Stephen’s and the same sheer delight in the faces of our Rice Lake kids!
Our Church family from Edina truly continues to make a deep and lasting impression of love and fun and caring in our hearts.

“The Summer Fun Days” is always anticipated anxiously by our Rez kids and it seems a perfect example the gospel … to me… it is like seeing Jesus in shorts and t-shirt… running around a gym shooting hoops with our kids or sitting with them in a quiet moment and communicating care and  connectedness  even without words.  The visit of the chair of the local council with extra treats and t shirts for us to give away is additional evidence of your impact.

Then the Christ as Carpenter always emerges in the ministry of the dedicated work crew, who this year brought a communion rail to St. Philip’s.  It is simply incredible to see.

I took one of our Elders to see it yesterday for the first time.  On my arm, he stood near the rail for a long moment saying nothing, then reaching to squeeze my hand he said softly, “Oh Jackie…to receive the meal of Jesus at the rail made by the carpenter’s crew is a holy thing.  “The Carpenter’s Crew…I like that”, I said.   “Tell them will you?”… “Yes, I promise I will”.  The Elder said no more to me on the way back to his small house, but the blessing was clear and loud.

So, this note of thanks is from your Family in Rice Lake, and St. Philip’s.  You have family here…you have touched our community, and please know the Rice Lake Community stands with arms open in gratitude and enduring relationship.

Chi Miigwetch, Jackie Bernacchi+, Al Fox Sr. Warden

We look forward to the 5 anniversary year in 2018!!

We love Sharing Our Stories! Read more here

Do you have a Sharing Our Stories idea?
Let us know! Send an email to communications@ststephens.com.

A Place to Call Home

Collaboration of congregations provides housing for once-homeless young adults                    

4,080 youth and young adults are homeless and on their own on any given night in Minnesota; 200-300 of whom are in the southwest suburbs. For youth and young adults, the path out of homelessness is a long and perilous one.

These are the facts that astounded St. Stephen’s parishioners attending a meeting hosted by Edina Community Lutheran Church (ECLC)  in 2013. The purpose of the meeting was a discussion on homelessness in the southwest suburbs and it sparked a calling in our parish that culminated this week with the opening of the 66 West Apartments in Edina.

In 2014, St. Stephen’s was invited by ECLC to join with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative and 3 other congregations in a project to provide stable, safe housing for young adults in Edina. Since that time, our church family, along with ECLC, Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer and Richfield United Methodist Church, have rallied around 66 West.

“The power of this collaboration of congregations has been amazing” said Jackie Sullivan, a St. Stephen’s parishioner who serves as the parish representative on the 66 West Task Force and on the Beacon Board of Directors. “The public testimony of people from the collaborative was noted by the city officials who ultimately gave approval for the project.” But the work didn’t stop there.

“The way our parish has supported this project has also been wonderful,” remembered Sullivan “it was a very proud moment when I stood in front of the parish to announce the city approval of the project to the rousing applause of all.” Since then, congregations in the collaborative have raised funds, lovingly made quilts, and most recently, gathered household goods. All with a goal of giving these young adults a helping hand as they lift themselves onto a new life path.

This week, several St. Stephen’s parishioners served at 66 West as residents moved into their new homes. “The residents were clearly excited, but also trying to take it all in” said parishioner, Mary Tomback. Dale’s Closet, an on-site room containing all of the items collected to help residents stock their apartments, was overflowing with options. “Several of the residents were clearly surprised by the opportunity to select new housewares” said Tomback, “we were so honored to be able to help them choose items for their new homes. The quilts, in particular, were greatly appreciated.”

Today we want to offer a BIG THANK YOU to the parish for all the support of 66 West. New opportunities to serve the residents will be shared in the future. For now, on-going prayers while the residents settle in are welcomed and encouraged. If you have questions or a calling to serve, contact Jackie Sullivan or Mary Tomback.

Do you have a Sharing Our Stories idea?
Let us know! Send an email to communications@ststephens.com.