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Annual Report. Where Do We Go From Here?

Jan 31, 2021

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The purpose of our annual meeting is to review the financial and spiritual health of our church over the past year, to elect new members to our parish Vestry, and to consider new things. I present the dean’s report on the state of the parish in the context of the scripture appointed for the day. Everything we do here, everything we consider and the way we work out our life together, must be framed by the gospel. Please, please, please, let’s not pretend this is not a spiritual enterprise. It is the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, which inspires and identifies the people of the Episcopal Cathedral of St Stephen as God’s ministers in life and in mission.

I use that word intentionally, as the Latin minister (the lesser one) implies there is a Magister (greater one or Master).  Who is our greater one?  (Jesus, whom we follow).

Our scripture lessons today are challenging, because their narrative offers an illustration of their underlying teaching. The Letter to the Corinthians speaks of food offered to idols, but it is less about dietary choices than it is about the necessity of choosing priorities in a Christian life. The eighth chapter of that epistle focuses on the transformative power of loving God, which Paul understands as being superior to knowledge. What we think we know about how things have always been done is less important than turning our hearts toward God and God’s desire. The gospel passage is less about the initiation of Jesus’ teaching and healing than it is about his authority over all things. As Jesus acts within his authority, his words and deeds bring blessing and healing. The resistance of others to Jesus is rooted in their fear of loss of power and authority. Like new wine in an old wineskin, the power of Jesus overcomes the obstructions his opponents try to construct.

We might ask ourselves in what ways this challenging year has invited us to re-prioritize our common life? What have we done out of our love for God in order to deepen our community? How does this love impact our building up ministry for God’s sake? How have we engaged the power of Jesus Christ to serve people who dwell outside our tradition? Ultimately, we need to be about God and God’s mission to love the world.

We had a strong beginning in 2020. Finishing up three years as our Sr Warden, John Dernbach said at our last Annual Meeting that he felt the parish had strong momentum, and that looking ahead, he felt Team St Stephen was in place. Our music director resigned his teaching position in early February and moved to Maryland in May. In early March, we moved to virtual worship due to the pandemic, expecting to return in a few months. We celebrated Easter services online. In July, Jordan Markham joined us and Shayna Watson moved to her next parish. Our return to in-person services in July allowed us to gather in small groups if we remained masked. There were two autumn weddings in the Bishop’s Garden. We produced a zany stewardship musical. As infection rates increased, we returned to virtual services in November and livestreamed our Christmas services. 2020 was a long, strange year. Team St Stephen was resilient and managed challenges.

In the most sub-optimal circumstances, grace overcame evil and we experienced many blessings.

  • We accelerated our commitment to innovation and moved rapidly into digital ministry. Thanks to Ryan

Tobin and Lindsay Gottwald who worked smart phone cameras, and to the Bishop’s office which subsidized the purchase of a video camera, we mostly succeeded. We expanded our worship community to include people from other cities and countries. Much of our regular programming has continued online.

  • We developed small group ministries of prayer, reclaiming the Anglican tradition of public Morning

Prayer and Compline: 433 services in 2020. Our church is on the web and in the world, although we cannot gather in a large group.

  • We renewed our work around racial, social, and economic justice, studying scripture about justice, working through books on systemic racism, building relationships with other churches, expanding our support for the needy and vulnerable in Harrisburg (pantry & NOEL program).
  • We conducted a virtual stewardship program and cottage meetings to discern for future planning.
  • We were able to continue repairs and renovations to our historic property (projects funded by endowment and surprising generosity of individual parishioners).
  • Thanks to the generosity of our members, and to some serious cost-cutting, our parish balance sheet was balanced at the end of the year.

Our experience has changed us. Many of us are acutely aware of our need for community. Many have turned toward a deeper connection with God. This pandemic season of Coronatide has rendered the message of the Gospel even more urgent, as the fragile nature of our mortality and our need for God and each other have been clarified. We have learned that the Jesus we follow is more powerful and more important than just a teller of interesting stories. We have learned that we need God. Only by the victory of Christ over death can we at last be freed from the false promises offered by the idols we have constructed. There is no privilege, no investment, no party, no human power or local tradition that can shelter us from suffering or death. Ultimately, only the God of Love can save us. Moving forward, we need to decide in what ways we will proclaim that message, not just with our lips but by actions. We cannot address the needs of the world with old solutions, because the cultural river has moved on. We must offer a clear spiritual vision to an increasingly unchurched world that has a deep need for the message of Jesus and little use for an institutional church.

There are some indications that 2021 will not be an easy year, for the wider community or for our parish.

The ongoing pandemic and slow distribution of vaccines continue to make it unsafe to gather in person. Our Bishop has extended the practice of Communion Under Special Circumstances through Lent. We may be looking at late spring or summer for re-entry to services. Frustrating at best. The pandemic has weakened the economy and recovery will likely be sluggish. We are weary of living life virtually and dispersed.

We are resilient and we will manage. Thinking of the big picture, considering what is best for the whole community, and celebrating successes will help us. St Stephen’s can move forward because there is good news even in difficult times. We have new members and five new pledges this year. We are experimenting with Zoom worship, so participants can see faces and hear voices of the community and not just the celebrant. Our very faithful finance team has trimmed our budget to reflect the predictable income of pledges as well as a likely decrease in sources of ancillary income (plate donations, flower donations, building use fees, and so on). With diminished income, our Vestry is scrutinizing the sustainability of our ministries. We accepted the gift of a Baldwin concert grand piano, which now lives in our sanctuary. We are making plans to replace our organ, because the acoustic elements are damaged/need rebuilding and the digital elements are beginning to fail.

As we make our way through 2021, please let us remember that in the Body Christ, while there is diversity of members there can be no division (no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no woman or man). As we move forward, it will be most helpful for us as a fairly large community to recall what our mission is here in Harrisburg. While it is unlikely that anyone can recite the parish or diocesan mission statements, it should not be difficult to remember that we are all about constructing a life in the presence of God. That is really It. That is what we are about, as individuals and as a community of faith. We are trying to figure out how to build a relationship with God in the midst of our complicated and finite lives. In this difficult season of pandemic, I encourage you to lean on the power and authority of Jesus Christ, and to remember that all we do must in some way point to that.

As a community, it is appropriate that we offer our thanks to the many who sustain, enrich, and expand the ministry of God in this place.

Staff: Saint Cindy Harbert, the Rev Canon Fred Miller, the Rev Deacon Michael Nailor, Michael Frascella, Jordan Markham, Micalagh Moritz, Bee Kaiser, Gene Schofield

Prayer leaders: Fred Miller, Michael Nailor, Michael Pasenelli, Bill & Marcia Davis, Chloe Selles, Micalagh Moritz, Dolores Rizzuto

Teams of lay leaders: Our Wardens and Vestry, Gerry Garber & Community Connections; Bldg & Grounds esp Tom Long & Jim Elliott, office esp Betty MacLaughlin & Toni Koch; Margaret Messner & the Altar Guild; Christy Forsythe & flower guild, choir, Bee Kaiser & the children’s formation team, John & Ellen Harles for Adult Forum, Mike Pasenelli & the Bible study group; Wil Everhart & the Finance and Endowment committees; Tech and Social Media teams; Peter Robelen & Allyson Green Martin & our stewardship team; Stephanie Pasenelli, Jessica Clemmer, Judy Clemmer & Adrian Hennessy for hospitality; the Board of SSES; the many volunteers for Sycamore House; our choir; ushers, greeters, Peter Robelen &lectors, lay eucharistic ministers, and acolytes; MBTR Anne Yellott & Jayne Abrams, priest associates (Fred Miller, Dan Morrow, Bill Murphey, John Sivley).

As we decide where we will go from here, may we always keep in our sight whom we serve and for what reason.

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Serve in WorshipAcolyte

Acolytes carry the cross and torches at processions and help the priest prepare for Holy Communion. This ministry is ideal for youth (grades 7 and up), and is also open to adults. A brief training session is offered to help you learn the job. Acolytes are scheduled on a rotating basis.

Clergy & StaffAmy Welin

Dean | Email: adwelin@ststep.org

The Very Rev. Dr. Amy D. Welin has been serving as the Dean of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral since August 2017.

Prior to her priestly ordination, Amy worked as an instructor of medieval and world history, an insurance claims processor, and a pastoral associate in a large mid-western church. Before accepting the call  of the Cathedral Church of St. Stephen in Harrisburg, she served a variety of parishes in the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, as a member of the Standing Committee and the Chapter of Christ Church Cathedral.

One of the founding members of the Episcopal Clergy Association in Connecticut (ConnECA), and a prior board member of the Network of Episcopal Clergy Associations (NECA), Amy devotes her energy to issues of clergy and parish wellness.

Married to Greg Welin, who is also an Episcopal priest, and mother of four young adults, Amy likes to garden and practice yoga in her free time.

Clergy & StaffCindy Harbert

Administrator | Email: charbert@ststep.org

Cindy Coombs Harbert joined the staff at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in 2017.  Most of Cindy’s professional career has been centered around non-profit administration.  Cindy holds a BA in social work and education from West Virginia Wesleyan College and has completed graduate coursework in counseling at Messiah University. The mother of two adult children, she enjoys traveling, volunteering in the community, watching field hockey, and exploring new places that she hasn’t visited before.

Clergy & StaffFred Miller

Canon Pastor

The Rev. Canon Fred Miller began on staff as Canon Pastor for spiritual care July 2020.

Fred is a MDIV graduate of the Episcopal Divinity School with graduate studies in Congregational Development at Seabury Western Seminary, and marriage and family counseling at Trinity Counseling Center, Princeton. He served 4 parishes in New Jersey before coming to Central PA at All Saints’, Hershey. After receiving certification with the Interim Ministry Network he served in NJ, & Kansas, before returning to this diocese, working in Altoona, State College & Williamsport. Serving with the YWCA as a volunteer, retired Red Cross volunteer and as a previous College Chaplain in two states has opened the possibilities of living into the Episcopal Church becoming a bridge to interfaith relations.

Married to Kris with whom we proudly share three children, now grown. Fred enjoys outdoor activities, simple meals, and quiet conversation.

Clergy & StaffGene Schofield

Parish Nurse

Gene was born and grew up on family farm in MN. After getting her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, she worked at a Navy hospital where she met and married her husband, Mike. The mother of 4 (Kirsten died of CP complications at age 40) she keeps busy with her children, her 9 grandchildren and her great-granddaughter. Gene returned to work in nursing after her children were in middle school with her last position being a Hospice nurse until her retirement in 2008. Gene is available to assist the newly diagnosed, helps with securing durable medical equipment and checks in with those on our prayer list on a weekly basis.

Serve in WorshipGreeter

Greeters are the public face of the Cathedral on Sunday mornings. Our greeting team welcomes guests and members alike, and helps guests find a seat and matches them up with a member to assist them in the service.

Clergy & StaffJordan Markham

Director of Music

Jordan R. Markham studied at The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He is a classically-trained lyric-baritone, pianist, organist, and conductor, having previously studied under the Grammy-winning baritone, William Sharp and soprano Susan Solomon Beckley of Bucknell University. For two years he was a professional chorister at The Washington National Cathedral, and was a paid chorister and soloist in The Handel Choir of Baltimore. While with the Handel Choir, he sang the tenor solo role of Apollo in Handel’s Semele, the tenor solo in Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (both with full orchestra), and the tenor solo in Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in The Lamb. Prior to this, he sang the baritone solo in Rossini’s  Petite Messe Solennelle with the Peabody Singers and most recently has been heard singing the baritone solo in The Seven Last Words Of Christ by Theodore Dubois, accompanied by a full orchestra.

Throughout the past decade, Mr. Markham has performed at The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Nobuo Uematsu, composer of the soundtracks for the Final Fantasy Games. He has also sung at Carnegie Hall, The Boston Symphony Hall, and the Jackie Gleason Theatre. He has been active in the musical theatre scene for over a decade directing, accompanying, and acting in theaters throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland. Mr. Markham has most recently been seen in South Pacific with The Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, as “Jimmy” in Reefer Madness, “Peter” in Bare: A Pop Opera, and as “Chip” in The 25th Annual Putnum County Spelling Bee, for which he was also the music director and whose cast received a nomination by Broadway World for Best Ensemble. He has also performed onstage with the Peabody Opera in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and  Cosi fan tutte, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen.

Mr. Markham is currently the Artistic Director and Conductor of The Central Pennsylvania Womyn’s Chorus, and a co-founding member of Allegro con Fuoco, a keyboard duo with Tyler A. Canonico, and proudly serves as the Director of Music and Organist at St Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 

Serve in WorshipLay Eucharistic Minister

Lay Eucharistic Ministers (LEMs) assist the clergy at the altar by distributing Holy Communion to members of the congregation. LEMs are scheduled based on their availability to serve one or more Sundays each month. This ministry is open to all baptized and confirmed members of the church, after attending two hours of training and receiving a license from the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania.

Serve in WorshipLay Worship Leader

Do you have an interest in leading prayer and worship services that do not require ordained clergy? By receiving a license as a Lay Worship Leader from the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, you will be able to lead the congregation in Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and other prayer services. This ministry requires significant study and preparation, and is open to all baptized and confirmed members of the church. 

Serve in WorshipLector

Lectors proclaim the Word of God by reading from the Old Testament and the New Testament during worship services. Lectors are scheduled based on their availability. All interested persons are eligible to become lectors by attending a 30-minute orientation session.

Clergy & StaffMicalagh Moritz

Director of Formation for Young Adults and Youth

In 2021, Micalagh transitioned into the role of Director of Youth & Young Adult Formation. She previously served as the Sycamore House Program Director, starting in 2017. She has over 15 years of experience in various community nonprofits in Harrisburg, Belize, and Washington, DC.

She majored in Human Development & Family Science in college, and continued on to receive her Masters in Social Work. She has a counseling and therapy background, which is applicable to many areas of life-both on the job and off. She has worked with youth and young adults in many different settings, including through Harrisburg-based after-school programs, through the Sycamore House, as Director of a study abroad program in Belize, and through teaching college courses locally.

She is passionate about helping to create healing spaces for people to grow and learn, exploring the intersections of faith and justice, and building bridges between people of various backgrounds. She is also passionate about spiritual formation as an integral part of building community.

Micalagh lives in Harrisburg and can often be found riding her bike up Riverfront Park, in a local café, or walking to Broad Street Market. She is married to Joshua Moritz, a middle school Case Manager and farmer at heart, and they have 2 children who attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. 

Clergy & StaffMichael Frascella

Facilities Manager

Michael Frascella has served as our part-time Facilities Manager for several years.  He works diligently to see that our campus stays beautiful, our buildings are problem-free, and that there are inviting and welcoming spaces for all who enter our doors.  Michael is a member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral and is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of 4. 

Clergy & StaffMichael Nailor

Deacon

Michael was born and raised in Mechanicsburg, PA as a member of First Evangelical United Brethren (United Methodist) where he was active throughout childhood and as a young adult.  He came to the Episcopal Church while he was in college at the University of Pennsylvania.  The pioneering women of the “Philadelphia Eleven” had just been irregularly ordained and the church was struggling with the role of women in leadership. Michael was drawn to a church that was willing to deal with – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – the important social justice issues of the day. 

Agreeing to disagree but still staying in communion around the Holy Table appealed to this English teacher and debate coach throughout his 41-year career in education.  Michael serves the Diocese of Central PA as a deacon at St. Stephen’s Cathedral as he has since his ordination in 2018. He also works at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Serve in WorshipPrayer Leader

Prayer Leaders lead the Prayers of the People during worship services. Prayers are led from among the congregation, with prayer leaders adding a prayer of their own choosing to reflect the needs of the moment. All persons are eligible for this ministry — a brief orientation session is available to help prepare you for leading prayers.

Service OpportunitiesArtsFest

Downtown Harrisburg

Artsfest is always held the weekend of Memorial Day, Saturday through Monday, with St. Stephen’s members serving hot dogs, hamburgers, snow cones and beverages, while tours of the Cathedral are offered along with free organ concerts every hour. The profits from our ArtsFest work are all dedicated to a selection of service groups in the city.

Service OpportunitiesCommon Ground Cafe

Allison Hill - Harrisburg

When is a breakfast more than just a meal? When it is a community center, a kids’ craft session, a book nook for adults, a reading program and book giveaway for children, an opportunity for family members and neighbors to visit in a warm, welcoming place.

Please join the volunteers and community members who make all of this happen on the last Saturday of every month at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg at 1508 Market St. We serve about 250 people at each breakfast, so we need cooks, waiters, greeters, coffee servers, readers, a set up crew, dishwashers, piano players, and anyone who just wants the best breakfast in town!

Service OpportunitiesDowntown Daily Bread

Downtown Harrisburg

Downtown Daily Bread is a soup kitchen located at the Pine Street Presbyterian Church. Their mission is to provide services for the homeless & feed the hungry (40,000 meals/year) 7 days a week including weekends & holidays. On the first Sunday of every other month from approximately noon until 2 p.m., St. Stephen’s serves the food trays and then helps clean up afterward.

Service OpportunitiesLittle Free Food Pantry

Jessica McClard launched the grassroots mini pantry movement on May 2016 in Fayetteville, AR, when she planted the Little Free Pantry Pilot, a wooden box on a post containing food, personal care, and paper items accessible to everyone all the time no questions asked.

Service OpportunitiesRMMS

We participate in an organized program to support and encourage refugees hoping to make the U.S. their home.

Service OpportunitiesSt. Barnabas Children's Ministry

Uptown Harrisburg

St. Barnabas was founded by our own Bishop Charlie McNutt and Bishop Guy Edmiston from the Lower Susquehanna Synod. Located in Uptown Harrisburg, St. Barnabas offers children ages 7 – 12 an 8-week summer day camp. A variety of experiences allow spiritual, emotional, physical, educational & social growth. St. Stephen’s provides food for the children, along with volunteers to prepare, serve and clean up.

Service OpportunitiesSusquehanna Harbor Safe Haven

Uptown Harrisburg

Operated by the ecumenical group Christian Churches United, Susquehanna Harbor is a residence for homeless men. St. Stephen’s, along with other churches and service groups, is responsible for staffing the 25-unit overnight shelter several weeks each year.

Clergy & StaffStuart Scarborough

Property Manager

Rev. Stuart Scarborough, Deacon, joined St. Stephen’s Episcopal Cathedral part-time as a Property Manager after migrating northward from the Diocese of Maryland when his wife, Rev. Anjel Scarborough, was called to be Rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Hershey. Prior to relocating, Stuart spent 13 years managing facilities, including three years as Facilities Operations Director for St. John’s Episcopal Church and Parish Day School in Ellicott City, MD and, before that, ten years as Director of Operations at the Claggett Center, Maryland’s Diocesan conference, retreat and camp center in Adamstown, MD. Prior to this, Stuart, who has a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech, worked for 20+ years in manufacturing. Stuart and Anjel have two adult children; Martin, who lives in Cockeysville, MD and Erin, who lives in Newark, DE.

As Property Manager, Stuart will oversee the care and maintenance of all the Cathedral buildings and property. In addition to this part-time role, Stuart is also serving part-time as Property Manager for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. In this role, Stuart will look after all buildings and properties that are owned by the Diocese, but are not parishes. Further, Stuart has been assigned as Deacon to Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church in Camp Hill.

Serve in WorshipTechnical Guild

Are you looking for a behind-the-scenes way to get involved? Consider joining our technical crew and learning to operate our sound and light systems. Sound and Light Technicians facilitate worship services by ensuring that sound levels and amplification are appropriate, and that lighting is used to highlight the liturgical action. Some training is required.

Serve in WorshipUsher

One of the primary functions of an usher is to guide guests and members to various parts of the Cathedral (restrooms, parlors, nursery, etc.) and to assist with any special needs (e.g. wheelchair access). Ushers are also trained to summon help in the case of any emergencies.