It's the season of change across The United Methodist Church as new pastoral appointments are announced. St. Stephen UMC is among the North Texas congregation that will experience a pastoral change beginning July 1.
Our season of change began May 12 as we bid farewell to our pastoral intern, Ernest Bryson. Ernest graduated May 18 from Perkins School of Theology with a master of divinity with honors. He also – to his surprise and joy and to our pride – earned the Albert C. Outler Award for the best theological essay of the academic year. Named for Perkins' great theologian and scholar, The Outler Award is the top theological honor among many awards given each year by Perkins. A contingent from St. Stephen celebrated with Ernest, his family and friends with a delicious Mexican dinner at Mariano's Hacienda. Attending were Helene and Lee Pulley, Pat Fuller, Marlene O'Connor, Lisa Tinsley and Cynthia and John Astle. Ernest, his wife Maricela and their son David are on their way to the Longview area, where he will become an associate pastor at The Church at Lake Cherokee, a Disciples of Christ congregation. Godspeed, Bryson Family. You will be missed!
A side note to Ernest's graduation: Not many of us at St. Stephen know that among the many honors at Perkins are TWO awards related to our congregation. The William K. McElvaney Preaching Award is given to the student who preaches the best sermon on a social issue. The Jerry W. Hobbs Worship Award is given to the student who shows the most creative, imaginative skills in designing and leading worship. St. Stephen has influence on the life of United Methodism that goes beyond our local reach.
The next impending change for St. Stephen UMC will be the retirement of Rev. Ann Barton during the 2013 session of the North Texas Annual Conference. Ann will give a video reflection on her ministry during this year's conference June 2-4 at First UMC in Richardson. These videos will be interspersed with other activities during the annual conference sessions, so it's not possible at this time to say when her reflection will be shown so that we could attend to see it. This procedure is a change from past practices of the conference business sessions.
Ann and Dave have purchased a home in the Casa View area and will be moving out of the parsonage sometime in the middle of June. That will give the Trustees time to do some maintenance and repairs on the parsonage before the arrival of our new pastor as of July 1, the Rev. Nancy DeStefano. Nancy and her husband Ed have met with St. Stephen's Staff-Parish Relations Committee and both they and our representatives feel this appointment is a good fit for our congregation, especially in the areas of worship and social justice ministries. SPRC shortly will announce plans for a farewell reception for Ann and Dave and a welcoming event for Nancy and Ed.
Finally, there's a change on the horizon that not many people have heard about yet. Margaret Fincher, our longtime, faithful and expert financial secretary, has announced her plan to "retire" from her volunteer position at the end of 2013. The Finance Committee is seeking someone to succeed Margaret who can learn from her during the remainder of 2013. If this is a service to which you feel called, please get in touch with Finance Chair John Astle.
Be sure to read our newsletter, the Whatchacallit, and our website regularly to keep up with all the new and exciting transitions going on in our wonderful congregation!