With 30,000 young people and leaders assembled in one place, speakers who inspired, community service that encouraged further action, and connections made with individuals and groups, the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston made a big impact on the teens from SSLC and their leaders. Those who attended were Caitlyn Gogan, Samantha Gogan, Zach Gogan, Matt Haley, Abby Maston, Sam Maston, Deb Gogan, Pastor Joe and Sarah Maston.
What surprised Sam Maston “was the sheer numbers. Thirty thousand people is very hard to visualize and imagine, and not until the first night with everyone gathered in the stadium did I know what 30,000 people looked like.”
In the stadium, the small numbers mattered, too, and Samantha Gogan remarked on that.
“I was impressed by the seemingly small connections that we made in the stadium and in the gathering in general, like flashing our lights across and doing patterns during the mass gathering, high fiving everyone you see, and trading bracelets.” Sam added, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that much joy and kindness in one space before.”
Both Sam and Samantha agreed that the speakers offered powerful stories and insights. Theologian and author Nadia Bolz-Weber “talked about how God’s grace really is for everyone,” Sam related. The Rev. Will Starkweather told his story, one of “darkness and self harm,” and how with faith he came to realize, “there’s grace for everything, because God’s grace is never ending.”
Samantha spent her community service day learning about human trafficking. “It is important that people are made aware of it.” She wants to share her new awareness with the people of Saint Stephen and the larger community. “I want to participate in the Red Sand Project at the church or at the school. You put red sand into the cracks of side walks to represent the people and cases who fall through the cracks and don’t get the help they need . You write inspiring messages to the hotline for human trafficking. The project helped me to understand human trafficking and what we can do to help stop it.”
A takeaway for Sam was a realization that “God really changes everything. This was exemplified through all the stories I heard during that week, and am only beginning to truly grasp.” Recognizing that” the rest of the world isn’t always as nice those gathered in Houston, united through Christ. It’s our job to bring God’s love and grace to one another. If not us, then who?”
Every three years, 30,000 high school youth and their adult leaders from across the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America gather for a week of faith formation known as the ELCA Youth Gathering. Along with music, worship, and Bible study, they take part in small group interactive learning in a 700,000 square foot learning center, huge gatherings in a stadium, a Synod day where they connect with others from their geographical area, and a community service day, with participants serving at almost 100 venues throughout the Houston area over the course of the gathering.
Relay for Life of Marlborough Hudson takes place this Saturday, June 2, from 10 am to 10 pm at Ward Park in Marlborough. Saint Stephen Lutheran Church is well represented, providing the keynote speaker, a 15-member team, and two members of the Executive Leadership Team.
Team members include Leeann Brewitt, Dave and Martha Domke, Betsy Field, Pastor Joseph Graumann, Elizabeth and Harold Greer, the Maston family, Ann Weston, Melanie and George Whapham, and Jane Woolsey. The team is in a respectable fourth place in their fundraising as of this writing. To donate or join the team, go to www.facebook.com/RFLMarlboroughHudson. When directed to the website, scroll down to find the team list.
Melanie Whapham and Deb Roberts are members of the Executive Leadership Team. Planning meetings are held monthly for ten months every year.
Pastor Graumann, who provided a moving and insightful talk last year, has been invited back to again offer the keynote address, which kicks off the event at 10 am. Sometime after that he will volunteer for something quite different – a 15-minute stint in the dunk tank!
Last year, the Saint Stephen team earned the prize for best decoration, and this year, with a Flaming Flamingos theme, they hope to do it again.
When the sun goes down at every American Cancer Society Relay For Life event, hope shines the brightest. During the Luminaria Ceremony, which will take place between 8:45 and 9:15 pm, hundreds of luminaria will light the track to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has taken too much.
Support the Relay by stopping by during the day. Listen to the keynote, take a lap with a team member, bid on an auction basket, play a lawn game, buy a snack or a meal, enjoy some oldies music, and watch or participate in the dancing, ranging from Zumba to belly dancing to country.
Serving at a soup kitchen, cleaning up a camp, and working at a food warehouse were among the “vacation week” activities for a group from Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, MA who traveled to Philadelphia for a recent 5-day mission trip. Pastor Joseph Graumann and youth leader Sarah Maston accompanied eight teens: Caitlyn, Samantha and Zachary Gogan, Matt Haley, Aline and Emma Kaledjian, and Abby and Sam Maston. They were part of a volunteer group of 22 teens and six adults from Central Massachusetts involved in LIPY (Lutheran Inter-Parish Youth).
Four from Saint Stephen chose to volunteer at a senior living facility, where they played balloon volleyball and board games with the seniors, and joined them in arts and crafts. “We also ate lunch with our senior friends every day,” Sarah Maston noted. “The kids really enjoyed getting to know the seniors and their personalities.” For those who remained at Camp Innabah, in Spring City, PA, where they stayed overnight, their days were taken up with grounds clean-up and painting to help prepare the facility for summer campers.
The pastor chaperoned at a soup kitchen at the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. “We arrived ready to help, “ he said, “but instead through their gracious hospitality and education, they helped us to see the realities of life in North Philadelphia. This is a church that changed alongside its neighborhood to be a center of justice and solidarity, and many churches would do well to follow their example.”
For Sam Maston, the working at Share Nourishing Community, a food bank, was “ a wonderful experience and I really enjoyed helping others.” Volunteers packaged food into boxes, and sent them to both organizations and individuals. “We got to interact with some buyers as we helped them load the food into their vehicles.”
After completing their volunteer service, the entire group worshiped at Grace Lutheran Church in Royersford, PA. “It was very beautiful!” Sarah Maston said.
For more information about the church, visit www.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, Stow, and Bolton.
Spring weather is approaching – really! – and with it comes the need for a different wardrobe. For some families, spring and summer gift-giving occasions compete for the same dollars needed to purchase clothing or food. The people of Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St. (Route 85), Marlborough would like to help by offering an Accessories and Clothing Giveaway on Saturday, April 28 from 10 am to 1:00 pm.This is the tenth Clothing Giveaway the church has offered over the past five years.
Gently used clothing for men, women, babies, and children, will be offered for free. Clothing is in good to excellent condition, and most of it is arranged by size, with many items on hangers, to create the feeling of shopping in a store. Accessories, such as shoes, belts, bags, scarves, and costume jewelry will also be available, at no cost.
Adult clothing is seasonal, but there may be fall items among the children’s clothing, since parents often like to plan ahead for the next size and season.. Those who come can bring their own bag, or take a bag provided and fill it with whatever they can use.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an average person throws away 70 lbs. of clothing every year totaling 21-24 billion pounds going into landfills annually. Just about a week after Earth Day, Saint Stephen parishioners and friends who donate 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.
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.
Five services at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, will mark the week leading up to Easter. The Christian Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday on March 25. St. Stephen’s 9:30 am service will start outside, weather permitting, where worshipers will be given palms, and will process into the church.
“Like those in Jerusalem, we raise our palms in adoration of Jesus as he enters the holy city,” noted Pastor Joseph Graumann. The next two services take place on Thursday and Friday, March 29 and 30, both at 6:30 p.m. On March 29, known as Maundy Thursday, “we commemorate Jesus’ last supper with his friends. On Good Friday, we gather around the cross on the day Jesus died to hear how an instrument of death becomes for us the tree of life,” the pastor added.
An Easter Vigil will take place at 7:15 pm on Saturday, March 31. As the sun sets, there will be an unveiling of a cross of flowers, marking the new life that springs from it. With Easter morning comes a 9:30 a.m. festival service, celebrating Jesus’ resurrection with Word, Sacrament, and special music from the bell and anthem choirs.
“The St. Stephen Anthem Choir will sing G. F. Handel's exuberant setting of Hallelujah, Amen and Lani Smith's rousing Love So Amazing , a setting of the 15th century Latin Hymn O Sons and Daughters,” said Stan Hanson, music director. Handbell musicians will also offer a selection. “The St. Stephen Ringers will play Michael Ryan's jubilant Let Joyful Alleluias Ring!, a piece that weaves together four triumphant Easter hymns.” Hanson will play organ
voluntaries that will include music of J.S. Bach and Charles-Marie Widor.
Following the service, there will be a potluck brunch. The public is invited to all services as well as the brunch that features spring favorites made by church members and friends.
For more information about St. Stephen Lutheran Church, visit www.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, Stow, Sudbury, and Bolton. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the nation’s largest Lutheran church, with approximately four million members split into 65 synods, or territories, across the United States and the Caribbean.
Samuel Maston, the son of Sarah and Glenn Maston of Hudson, has been chosen as one of 12 youth from around the country to serve on the Youth Core Leadership Team of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Those selected meet regularly to grow in leadership and mission to the church, and plan the Annual Youth Leadership Conference that takes place in November. Each year, six youth are added to the team for the two-year commitment, and six are sent out from the team with their enhanced leadership skills.
Sam travels to Chicago this week, for the first of three required on-site meetings, where he will meet fellow participants as well as the six outgoing members. In addition to the three meetings, team members participate in monthly video conferences.
Sam filled out an online application in January. A member of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Marlborough, Sam was confirmed last spring and continues to be active as an acolyte, an assisting minister, and a member of the youth group, which engages in both outreach and social activities. He planned and ran the recreation/games phase of the summer Vacation Bible Camp and is currently a member of the committee that is planning an auction of goods and services to benefit the youth group’s June trip to the ELCA National Gathering in Houston.
Sam was at a tennis clinic when he got a call and a text to tell him he made the leadership team. “I said sweet! This is awesome.” He said he was “surprised, but I felt pretty good.”
He is a sophomore at Hudson High School, enrolled in honors classes. Sam is on the tennis team and plays clarinet in the band as well as for the Claflin Hill Youth Orchestra. He also plays the piano, sometimes offering a selection in church.
“Church is a fairly big part of my life,” Sam noted. “I enjoy the church family at St. Stephen and the youth group.” Commenting on the many outreach projects the group engages in, from wrapping sweatshirts for veterans to buying toys for children to going on mission trips, Sam said, “Helping other people feels good.”
“Sam is such a blessing to our congregation,” said Pastor Joseph Graumann. “We are so happy that he will be a blessing to the whole church.”
There were 33 applicants for the six available spots, noted Molly Beck Dean, Interim Program Director for Youth Ministry for the ELCA. “The six outgoing YCLT members and three adult advisors were the selection group. Everyone read all applications, did some personal praying and discerning, and then we talked about those who stood out.” She said Sam’s “speaking of adaptive leadership, acknowledging that sometimes leaders have to make the tough choices and the importance of making sure everyone feels heard,” were things that stood out in Sam’s application.
For more information about St. Stephen Lutheran Church, visit www.saintstephenlutheran.com or the church’s Facebook page. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the nation’s largest Lutheran church, with approximately four million members split into 65 synods, or territories, across the United States and the Caribbean.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin was the February book choice for the St. Stephen Book Club, which met this month at church with Bev Broz and Leeann Brewitt hosting. Lunch was topped by a lively discussion about the novel. The next meeting will take place at Jan and Tom Conlin’s home on March 2, when members will be discussing My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. New members are always welcome.
Wednesday, February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day around the world, but also Ash Wednesday in Christian churches, and the day Word-Up Wednesday services will resume at 6:30 pm at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough.
As love is the focus for Valentine’s Day, it is also compatible with Word-Up Wednesday worship, notes St. Stephen Pastor Joseph Graumann.
“As society celebrates love with hearts and chocolates, Saint Stephen Lutheran Church also offers a chance to celebrate a very different kind of Love. During Lent, we walk with Jesus to the cross, where God’s love is poured out for all of us. This Ash Wednesday, we begin to look to that cross, to remember our own mortality, and to celebrate the depth of God’s love; love even to death.”
Old Testament prophecy, contemporary poetry, easy-to-sing music, and participant Bible study are all part of the service, which more resembles a gathering in the catacombs than a formal service in a cathedral.
Valentine’s Day began as a Christian commemoration. “Saint Valentine died for the sake of God’s love,” the pastor added. “He literally loved us all to death. What better way to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day than to celebrate God’s love to the depth of who we are.”
Word-up Wednesday takes place weekly at 6:30 pm; Sunday worship at St. Stephen is at 9:30 am, with Sunday School running concurrently, followed by coffee and fellowship.
For more information about the church, visit www.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, Stow, Sudbury, and Bolton.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is the nation’s largest Lutheran church, with approximately four million members split into 65 synods, or territories, across the United States and the Caribbean.
Pastor Joe installed the members of the 2018 Congregation Council on Sunday. From left, they include Frank Dutt, Jane Woolsey, Marlea Dutt, Dave Ross, Harold Greer, Anita Phelan, Elaine Recklet, Barbara Parente, Stan Hanson, and Sarah Maston (not in photo). Harold, Anita, and Stan were welcomed as the new members. Norma DuBois and Ken LaPlante, who completed their terms on council, were thanked for their service. Ann Gibson photo