September signals back to school for some. For others, this the time for a new program or learning experience. Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough is combining both fall themes with a new schedule that expands Christian Education and moves the worship time forward 30 minutes, to 10 am.
Starting Sunday September 15, a “Lutheran Learning Hour,” aka Sunday School, will run from 9-9:45 am. Lessons for all ages will be based on the same readings as in church. In September, for example, themes will include “God’s Mercy Includes Everyone,” “Honesty in Wealth.” and “How Mercy, Not Success Matters.” Bible stories will include the Parable of the Lost Sheep and Poor Lazarus and the Wealthy Man.
A new inter-generational teen and adult class is in the 9:00 am Sunday School schedule, along with returning classes for young children up to grade 4, and middle grades 5-8 learners. Previously, a shorter Sunday School time for children took place during part of the church service. The new offering will provide time for more depth and discussion, and allow all ages to attend both Sunday School and the service.
Worship at 10 am
The Saint Stephen worship service will begin at 10 am, a half hour later than the current time.
“This move shows that we are committed to having a place for people of all ages at God’s table,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann Jr. “Our schedule offers flexibility to parents, children, and everyone else.” In addition to a well stocked play area within the worship space that gives children a place to play near parents and be involved in worship, there is a nursery adjacent to the sanctuary. What will be new starting September 15 is that the nursery will be staffed every week by volunteers.
“Saint Stephen Lutheran Church is all about relationships,” Pastor Graumann added. “We get to know each other by learning together, and just as you might develop a friendship by asking about your friend’s life, we learn about God to develop our relationship with the divine. Come to learning hour, worship, or both.”
What will not change on September 15 is the existence of the popular after-church coffee hour, although it will start a little later. Coffee hour will be from 11 to noon.
Samuel Maston of Hudson, 17, is among fourteen voting members from the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church In America who will attend the August 5-10 ELCA Churchwide Assembly In Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sam joins an impressive list of local delegates, including Synod Bishop James Hazelwood, as well several hundred others – pastors and lay people from all over the country.
“I’m really excited for churchwide, “ said Sam who is looking forward to major elections and is “generally curious as to how the whole thing is going to play out. I don’t have any preconceptions or ideas. By the end I hope to have a better understanding of how the church operates on a national scale.” As a member of the ELCA’s Youth Core Leadership Team, a national group of just 12 youth, Sam became more aware of the churchwide assembly, and filled out an application.
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the primary decision-making body of the church, “is a process of communal spiritual discernment,” said presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. The group will meet “to discuss and make decisions about how to go about God’s work as a church.
This year the assembly will gather under the theme ‘We are church.’” Voting members, Bishop Eaton noted “meet with confidence in God’s grace around word and water, wine and bread, to carry on their work on behalf the entire church.”
Over the course of the assembly, voting members:
• Hear reports and review the work of churchwide officers, leaders and units;
• Receive and consider proposals from synod assemblies;
• Elect officers, board members and other leaders as specified by the constitution or bylaws;
• Establish ELCA churchwide policy;
• Worship together;
• Adopt a budget; and
• Conduct other business related to the ELCA churchwide organization.
“Together,” noted the ELCA Bishop, “we will worship, pray, engage in Bible study, deliberate and conduct business in plenary sessions.”