Beginning Wednesday, March 8, there will be more than prayer, Bible study, and communion at the Word-up Wednesday service at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough. The 6:30 pm weekly gathering will include a “Simple Soup Supper.”
On March 8, a brief service at 6:30 will precede the meal, which will start at about 7:00 pm. Because the pastor will be away that week, worship will be led by parishioners, and will not include communion. For all other Lenten services, March 15 through April 5, the 6:30 service will be led by pastor Joseph Graumann, will include communion, and the soup meal will be incorporated into the service.
Wednesday worship provides “an opportunity for people who can’t get to church on Sundays to come and experience Jesus,” says Pastor Graumann, 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.
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. In addition to Wednesday services, worship takes place each Sunday at 9:30 a.m., followed by coffee and fellowship.
The photo above is from the February 22 event to burn last year’s palms, so the ashes could be used in the March 1 Ash Wednesday services at noon and 6:30 p.m.
Members of St. Stephens held a bake sale to raise funds towards a goal of giving 500 cans of hearty soups to the local food pantry. Spending $350 at the sale, shoppers went home with cookies, cakes, brownies, breads, applesauce, and pies made by church members.
The effort continued on Super Bowl Sunday, with an in-house “Souper Bowl,” and parishioners brought more hearty soups, stews and chili, for a total of 375 donated cans. In addition to bake sale profits, a grant through the Thrivent Financial Action Team Project enabled the church to purchase about 200 cans toward the goal.
“We will definitely exceed our 500-can goal,” said Jane Woolsey, a member of the Social Ministry team that coordinated the effort. “The cash will be used to purchase other canned and boxed meals as requested by Hudson Food Pantry.” The hearty soups are very popular, Woolsey explained, because they are both nutritious and provide a meal in a can, and it has been a challenge for the food pantry to meet the need. In addition to Woolsey, team members are Donna Lambert, Norma Dubois, and Harold Greer, Melanie Whapham and Deb Roberts.
Whether you are into the trending Settlers of Catan or Quirkle, enjoy classics like Monopoly or Tabu, or prefer the simplicity of Candyland or Chutes and Ladders, there is something for you at the Thursday, February 23 Games Night from 6 to 9 pm at St. Stephen.
While the goal for Games Night is simply to provide an evening of fun, and perhaps a break from the doldrums of winter, others may see it as an educational opportunity. Some studies say board games improve the brain while others claim they build social skills.
In addition to games, refreshments will be provided. Adults, teens, and families with children are all welcome to the event, but RSVPs are requested for food and table planning purposes.
2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and commemorations are taking place all over the world. Historians credit the start of the Reformation to German monk and university lecturer Martin Luther, who famously posted his “Ninety-five Theses”on the church door in Wittenberg. No one expected the results – religious, cultural, and political upheaval that many say changed the world – or the breadth of evangelical reforms in Christian teaching and practice that followed.
Although church division was a result of the 1517 actions, in 2017, unity is a focus of celebrations, with an excellent example right here in Marlborough, Massachusetts. St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, and First Church Congregational, Marlborough, have formed a Reformation 500 committee and recently met to plan events.
Immaculate Conception pastor Father Marc Bishop noted that the churches are “emphasizing what we have in common, ‘One Faith, One Lord, One Baptism.’”
The group chose Saturday, June 3, for the celebration. The day will begin with an ecumenical worship service at First Church, which will include the common prayer developed last year by The Lutheran World Federation and The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in cooperation with a group of noted theologians, to mark the 500 years of the Reformation.
“After so many years of division in the church, celebrating in prayer and service together reflects this special community here in Marlborough, ” said St. Stephen pastor Joseph Graumann.
The day continues with an afternoon service project, spearheaded by First Church pastor Kazimierz Bern, whose “Feeding of the 500" alludes both to the 500th anniversary and (a portion of) Jesus’ miracle, and seeks to provide a healthy meal to local people in need, with donations from local restaurants and service by volunteers.
Activities will culminate with a concert at Immaculate Conception, featuring the voice choirs of all three churches and the bell choirs of two.
In addition to the pastors of the three churches, committee members include: Marybeth Gamber, Stan Hanson, Kathy Ireland, Steve Kotsopoulos, Ken LaPlante, Roger Mansen, Barbara Parente, Susan Pellerin, and Melanie Whapham. Ms. Whapham agreed to chair the committee, with support from Ms. Ireland.
Although the Word-up Wednesday service at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, was begun as an Advent church opportunity for those who might not be able to go on Sundays, the alternative service has resonated with those who attended, and will return next month. Word-up Wednesday will resume, beginning at 6:30 pm on February 1.
Old Testament prophecy, contemporary poetry, easy-to-sing music, and participant Bible study are all part of the new service, which more resembles a gathering in the catacombs than a formal service in a cathedral. The weekly 6:30 p.m. worship lasts about an hour, and includes communion.
“This is a opportunity for people who can’t get to church on Sundays to come and experience Jesus,” said Pastor Joe. “It’s a great choice for people who want to learn,” he adds, and, through the Bible study discussion, to “be part of the conversation.” Word-up Wednesday is designed to be “meditative, spiritual, and relevant to today.”