Great Are Your Works, O Lord
Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are your works, O Lord,
pondered by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:1-2)
My first six months as St. Stephen’s pastor have been a whirlwind of activity and meeting people. Thank you for the ways you have welcomed me and my family. First impressions matter so here are some of mine.
I’m heartened by the commitment to St. Stephen’s ministries, from the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the Church Council, to the Property Committee’s diligence in maintaining our beautiful almost-100-year-old building, to the Altar Guild’s care in preparing our sanctuary for weekly worship, to the Tech and Worship Teams’ behind-the-scenes planning, to the bonds of affection and compassion you so easily share with each other. These are all marks of a healthy congregation.
I am encouraged by the regular stream of visitors and guests we’ve encountered on Sunday mornings, some simply passing through Wilmington, others looking for church community where they can grow in faith and practice following Jesus. Nothing fills me with greater hope than to have kids in worship, helping us see familiar experiences in new ways.
Our external partnerships are “pearls of great price” and steppingstones to future ministry opportunities. I am excited to see what possibilities arise from our continuing collaboration with Lutheran Community Services through the food pantry. Bootless Stageworks’ support for emerging artists, often including our LGBTQ neighbors, aligns with our identity as a Reconciling in Christ congregation. By offering space to New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and Abundant Life Faith Center we share the gospel with more people, from different traditions, than we could do by ourselves.
Finally, St. Stephen’s is blessed by a strong staff whose work makes everything else possible and enjoyable. I’m grateful for Claudio’s joie de vivre and his eagerness to learn the ways of Lutheran church music; for Kanchalee’s hospitality, attention to detail even while multi-tasking, and excellence in running our food pantry; for Bonnie’s kindness and dedication to caring for our building as if it were her home; for Tony’s and Armand’s cheerfulness and willingness to pitch in where help is needed. It is a pleasure to come to work each day.
Like every congregation, we have challenges ahead of us. The future won’t look like the past. Yet, God is faithful. As we love, invite, and serve our neighbors, we will have many reasons to give thanks for God’s good works among us.
With joyful anticipation for all that is to come,