Walking laps, sharing stories, making new friends, and lighting luminaria are all part of Relay for Life events held to benefit the American Cancer Society. The recent Relay for Life of Marlborough Hudson at Ward Park, Marlborough, attracted 19 teams of walkers, as well as supporters who came to reflect, listen to music, dance, bid on silent auction items, walk a lap, and pledge their dollars to fight cancer.
The Saint Stephen Lutheran Church team was the top donation group, bringing in $9658 of the event total of $26,648 and including five of the top ten individual fund-raisers.
“I was absolutely floored by the amount that our team raised,” said St. Stephen pastor Joseph Graumann. “As a cancer survivor, I take Relay for Life personally. Each year, I take this time to remember where I’ve been and to honor all those who helped me be here today. What better way to fight cancer than to spend a day in community with others?”
Along with the pastor, the team included, from Marlborough: Melanie Whapham (team leader), Dave and Martha Domke, Pam Narahara, Judy Kellogg, and Bill and Deb Roberts; Hudson residents Harold and Elizabeth Greer and Jane Woolsey; and Andrew Kaye from Shrewsbury.
“Thank you to all who donated, walked, volunteered and prayed for great weather!” Melanie Whapham commented. She added that although St. Stephen had a strong turnout, overall participation was down and next year’s Relay will be seeking more business participation and possibly a date change from the typical first Saturday in June.
Thousands of pieces of clothing went to new homes last weekend, along with shoes, purses, scarves, and costume jewelry. The event was the Spring Clothing Giveaway at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, where everything was free, in great condition, and arranged to create the atmosphere of a store.
The 12th giveaway on May 11 attracted 166 people, all of whom left with one or more large bags of clothing, including spring jackets. Record keepers said 97 coats for men, women, and children were given away, close to the typical 100 winter jackets, coats, capes and fleece pullovers that people select at the fall giveaway. St. Stephen holds two clothing “sales” each year, one in spring and one in the fall, just before Thanksgiving.
The church reaches out to area agencies, and schedules a special time for agency-referred people to shop first. This year, 41 individuals, representing more than a dozen agencies, got first look at the store. The general public came on Saturday, May 11, and Martha Domke, co-leader with Jane Woolsey, said people were lined up outside the church from 8:45 on, more than an hour before the 10 am opening.
Clothing donations come from parishioners and their friends and neighbors. To maintain the quality of the offerings, there is no public drop-off. Instead, donors are asked to wash, fold, and sort donations by gender and size, bring them in the Sunday or Wednesday before the event, and become a sales associate for a little while by arranging them in the store. Dozens of people participate in some aspect of each giveaway. “It takes a village,” Martha Domke noted.
For the past few giveaways, committee members who are also members of Thrivent, a financial services company, have been able to obtain seed money through the Thrivent Action Team initiative. Along with donations, this is used to fund the Giveaway, and has included the purchase of clothing racks and storage containers, and also packages of underwear for men, women, and children, distributed at the Giveaway.
For more information about the church, visit saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org) The church is a Reconciling in Christ congregation, inviting people of every gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, marital status, or class. Parishioners come from Marlborough, Hudson, Berlin, Northborough, Southborough, Westborough, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, and Bolton. Worship services take place on Sunday at 9:30 am.
PHOTO: Clothing Giveaway volunteers at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlboro, get out the clothing racks to begin set-up for the 2018 event. This year, the Spring Clothing Giveaway will be on Saturday, May 11, from 10 am to noon. Pictured, from left: Leeann Brewitt, Marlea Dutt, Martha Domke, Barbara Parente, Yong Hee Spiller, and Maggie Leddy.
The warmth of spring and the heat of summer are approaching – really! With rising temperatures comes the need for a different wardrobe. When a family has an already stretched budget, and now faces gift giving occasions like weddings and graduations, along with food and clothing needs, the dollars may fall short. At the Spring Clothing Giveaway at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St. (Route 85), Marlboro on Saturday, May 11 from 10 am to noon, no dollars are needed. All the clothing is FREE, along with accessories such as costume jewelry, purses, shoes, belts, and scarves.
Clothing is in good to excellent condition. Most is arranged by size, with some on hangers, to create the feeling of shopping in a store. There are sections for men’s and women’s clothes, and a separate room for children’s clothing. Adult clothing is seasonal, but there may be fall items in the children’s room, recognizing that parents like to plan ahead for the next size and season. Shoppers can bring their own bag, or take a bag provided and fill it with whatever they can use. The event is open to the public, regardless of need; recycling advocates are welcome to this giveaway, just a few weeks after Earth Day.
Donated items come from Saint Stephen parishioners and friends who give clean, popular, wearable items that customers will take and use, believe they are helping not only individuals but also the earth, keeping good clothing out of landfills. Although the May 11 event will be the 12th giveaway the church has offered, donors seem to never empty their closets, and always have 1000s of items to offer. Martha Domke of Marlboro and Jane Woolsey of Hudson are co-leaders for the spring giveaway.
Five services at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, will mark the week of April 14-21. The Christian Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on April 14. The 9:30 am service will start outside, weather permitting, where worshipers will be given palms, and process into the church. “Like those in Jerusalem, we raise our palms in adoration of Jesus as he enters the holy city,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann. The choir anthem, “Cry Out Hosanna! Hosanna!” by Gilbert M. Martin will reflect the theme.
The next two services take place on Maundy Thursday, April 18, when those gathered will commemorate Jesus’ last supper with his friends, and Good Friday, April 19, when worshipers will hear how an instrument of death becomes for Christians the tree of life. Both services will be at 7:00 p.m. and each will include special music.
Candlelight, contemplation, cross decoration, communion, and even a christening will all be part of the Saturday, April 20 Easter Vigil that begins outside at 7:15 pm, just before sunset. Take a break from Easter preparations to hear parishioners’ personal stories based on biblical texts, and share in the joy of both a baptism, and the reveal of what the St. Stephen Art Guild has created for the large outside cross.
“As our annual Easter art project, we will cover the cross in stained-glass like colors, showing us that the cross is the lens through which God’s light shines,” said Pastor Graumann. In previous years, the cross was arrayed in a hand knit coat of yarn squares, and wreathed in flowers. Baptism is a much older Easter Vigil tradition, the pastor notes. “Since the early church, Christians have traditionally baptized newcomers at Easter Vigil. This year, as we celebrate Jesus’ passover through death into life, we rejoice in baptizing a new member.”
From now through April 10, worshipers at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, can get both food – and food for thought at the Word-Up Wednesday soup supper and holy communion church service. Come at 6:30 each Wednesday for a simple soup and bread supper and stay for a service that will examine liberation theologies, centering on LGBTQ identities, disability, ecology, and others.
“Each Wednesday, we gather in prayer, break bread, have some soup and discussion, then conclude with sharing the wine, just as the earliest Christians gathered,” says Saint Stephen Pastor Joseph Graumann.
Wednesday worship provides “an opportunity for people who can’t get to church on Sundays to come and experience Jesus,” says the pastor, as well as something less formal than a traditional Sunday service for people who might want two weekly options during Lent. It more resembles gatherings in the first century church where “early Christians sang songs you didn’t need a hymn book for, shared stories of their ancestors, talked about God at work in the world, and shared communion,” he added. At St. Stephen, everyone who wishes to share the bread and wine is welcome at communion.
In addition to Word-Up Wednesdays, the weekly Sunday worship takes place at 9:30 am, followed by coffee and fellowship. Sunday School for children from pre-school through grade 6 takes place during part of the service.
Six youth and two adults from St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, headed south for the February school break. Rather than a typical tropical vacation destination, their goal was Washington, DC, where they not only engaged in traditional volunteering at a food bank and a soup kitchen, but also spent a full day on Capitol Hil. While there, they met with ELCA Advocacy, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s ministry that works for change in public policy through political channels on behalf of biblical values such as peacemaking, hospitality to strangers, care for creation, and concern for people living in poverty and struggling with hunger and disease.
“This year’s mission trip demonstrates a changing understanding of youth education in the ELCA,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann, who along with youth leader Sarah Maston, chaperoned the group that includes Zach, Caitlyn, and Samantha Gogan, Emily Haley, Abby Maston, and Emma Keledjian. In addition to finding out about the church’s priorities in Washington, the group met with their local elected officials and had a full tour of the Capitol.
Also on the agenda for the 5-day trip was a visit to Luther Place Memorial Church, built in Washington, DC in 1873 as a memorial to peace and reconciliation following the Civil War. The neo-Gothic building resembles the shape of a ship, and is well known for its stained glass windows picturing twelve reformers. Luther Place has renovated neighborhood row houses, opened its doors to the homeless and later formed and worked with a multi-denominational coalition to open a facility to shelter and house people in need, and founded the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, now a national program that places hundreds of volunteers with social-justice oriented organizations.
St. Stephen parishioners surprised Pastor Joe last Sunday with a very special birthday cake for his milestone 30th birthday. The elaborate confection, created by Glenn Maston, was inspired by the Jeopardy game board– and the 2006 appearance by the then 17-year-old Joe Graumann’s appearance on TV’s Teen Jeopardy. He advanced to the semifinals of the popular show.
A top layer of the sheet cake, made from icing-covered and removable graham crackers, indicated three categories: pop culture questions from 2006, birthdays, and biblical numbers (answers: 30). By carefully removing the crackers, the answers were revealed in the cake below. Those attending the post-service coffee hour had a choice of devouring either white or chocolate cake below.
Although the cake was baked and decorated by Glenn, a cake enthusiast whose avocation is to create fancy, simple, and even strange cakes for all occasions, it is obvious that St. Stephen’s youth played a part – many of them have Pastor Joe’s Jeopardy photo on their phones, Glenn noted.
Check out the photos to see all the details in this incredible cake!
Throughout the world, Christians are celebrating Epiphany, or the 12th Day of Christmas in a variety of ways. Closer to home, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, will present a choir cantata, “Follow the Star, Follow the King,” at the 9:30 am worship service on Sunday, January 6.
Although choral music will be the focus, the presentation will also include readings. The Biblical scriptures that tell the Advent and Christmas story are “punctuated with themes of light,” notes the program description. Follow the Star, Follow the King is the journey from spiritual darkness to light, culminating in the birth of Jesus.”
While the choir will present both familiar and original music, led by St. Stephen Music Director Stanley Hanson of Hudson, those who attend will also have the chance to sing Christmas carols and participate in a worship service that includes Holy Communion.
Sunday will be a busy day at St. Stephen Lutheran Church. “A Campfire Nativity” is the theme for this year’s annual potluck dinner and pageant, which will begin at 4 pm. Children and other parishioners will play the roles of all the people – as well as animals and angels – who were part of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. Liz Greer of Hudson is coordinating the event.
As Thanksgiving ends and the Christmas season begins, Christians mark the pre-Christmas season of Advent, a “time of holy preparation,” notes the Rev. Joseph Graumann, pastor of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough. “We look to the past and celebrate our ancestors while looking forward to Jesus coming among us.”
To focus on Advent, the first season of the Christian church year, St. Stephen will offer a series of Wednesday evening services at 7 p.m. on November 28 and December 5, 12, and 19. Everyone is welcome to take a step away from the sometimes frantic Christmas preparation to participate in the “Word Up Wednesday” services, which will offer discussion and Holy Communion, as the series moves from a season of darkness into light. One of Advent’s most prominent symbols is the candles lit at the beginning of each week.
“In the first week of Advent, one candle is lit amidst the darkening skies,” said Pastor Graumann. “Week by week, the number of candles grows to turn darkness into light. This is what we celebrate; moving from the darkness of the present age to the light of the presence of God.”
The Advent services will focus on how the light of Christ breaks into a dismal world. “As Christians, we bear that light within us and share it with others.”
To celebrate Christmas, St. Stephen will offer a 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service, with candlelight and carols, and music from voice and handbell choirs, and a 9:30 am Christmas Day service. Both will include Holy Communion.
Hello Saint Stephen Lutheran Church members and friends. Join us January 13 @ 3PM for some great hockey with the Worcester Railers at the DCU center. We will be getting group discounted rate seats for the afternoon game. These tickets will make great stocking stuffers for Christmas. Sign up on the sheet on the narthex table. Looking forward to seeing you at the game! See Ken LaPlante for more information on ticket prices.