“Resilience to Brilliance” is the intriguing theme for Word Up Wednesday worship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, during Advent. On three Wednesday evenings in Advent – December 4, 11, and 18 – worshipers will gather at 7 pm to light candles in the dark and learn how hope makes for resilient communities.
“The earliest Christians were resilient in the face of tough times,” notes Pastor Joseph Graumann, “and our faith equips us to be resilient, too.” There may be parallels between Jesus time and today, with attitudes of the rich and powerful and how they viewed “the regular folks who struggle to get by.” As Christians prepare for the coming of Jesus, “the light that brilliantly shines in the darkness, we also prepare for the kingdom of God,” the pastor adds. “This is a kingdom where all are loved and everyone has what they need.”
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.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
After sessions on resilience, St. Stephen Lutheran Church invites worshipers to celebrate the brilliance of the Christmas season at 4 pm or 7 pm Christmas Eve and 10 am Christmas Day.
Children are welcome at all services, but the 4 pm service will be particularly family-friendly. Music offered by voice and handbell choirs will characterize the 7 pm service.
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.
Music spanning the centuries, and ranging from familiar hymns to modern secular works will be part of an organ concert at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough on Sunday, November 24 at 5:00 pm. The concert is free and the public is invited.
The concert will feature the Woodberry & Harris pipe organ, recently acquired as a gift from Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Shrewsbury. One of about 30 organs the Boston-based Woodberry & Harris made, it was constructed in about 1892 and served its first congregation in Abington for 60 years. It was then considered worn out and stored for several decades. Tthe organ was rebuilt for the Shrewsbury church in 1982 and was disassembled, fine-tuned and reassembled at St. Stephen this summer.
Stan Hanson, the music director at St. Stephen, will play a program designed to showcase the various sounds and diversity of the small pipe organ, and will open with Trumpet Voluntary, from John Stanley (1712-86). Ein Feste Burg ist Unser Gott, a choral prelude from Johann Nicolaus Hanff (1633-1711) follows. It is based on the familiar Martin Luther hymn, A Mighty Fortress is our God. Dietrich Buxtehude’s Nun Bitten Wir, also a choral prelude, comes third, and then the audience gets the opportunity to sing.
Hyfrydol is a popular hymn tune by Paul Manz (1919-2009). A variety of lyrics have been set to this tune, thus people know it by many names. At this event, just a week before the start of Advent, concert-goers will sing it as Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.
The program also includes Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, J.S. Bach (1685-1750) from Cantata 147, arranged by Hal H. Hopson; Prelude and Fugue in E-minor (BWV 533) “The Cathedral” J. S. Bach, and three pieces by American composers: Impromptu, David Lasky (born 1957), Variations to the Sicilian Hymn, Benjamin Carr (1769-1831), and Trio in a Style of Bach, “Alles Was Du Bist,” Billy Nalle (1921-2005). Hanson notes that both the Lasky and Nalle selections are examples of music drawing on theatre organ styles.
Concluding the concert will be Festival Toccata, Percy E. Fletcher (1879-1932), which “demonstrates without apology the full tonal resources of this instrument,” Hanson said. His hope is to “give people an appreciation of the organ not only as a church instrument but also capable of exhibiting other styles of music.”
Hanson, a resident of Hudson, has been the music director at St. Stephen for 12 years, but got his first job as a church organist at age 16, more than 50 years ago. At that time, he played the piano, and needed a little instruction to make the transition. Attracted by the “color and sound of the organ, I knew it was something I wanted to do.” He went on to study organ in college and beyond and has served churches in Maine, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
He holds a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from the University of Akron and has taken additional graduate study in organ, education, music education and musicology, and church music at Boston University, Framingham State College, University of Lowell, Curry College and Westminster Choir College. He also studied improvisation at Westminster Choir College with Otto Kramer. He is a Colleague of the American Guild of Organists.
Stan began piano lessons in the third grade, and continues not only to play piano during church services, but also teaches piano part-time at Mascari Piano Studios. In addition to playing the organ and piano at worship services at St. Stephen, Hanson directs the choral and handbell choirs. He has been active in community music, having been piano accompanist for the Worcester Youth Chorus and the Rivers Edge Youth Chorus and he served as music director for several shows at Hudson High School. While music has been a loved and active avocation for Stan, his career was in administration and transportation logistics.
For more information about St. Stephen Lutheran Church, visit the church’s Facebook page or website, www.saintstephenlutheran.com. Saint Stephen is a member of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (www.elca.org). Sunday worship is at 10:00 am, preceded by Sunday School for all ages at 9:00. Coffee and social hour takes place at 11:00.
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, Maynard, 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.
Word Up Wednesday Worship returns to St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Marlborough for three sessions at 7 pm on October 9, 16, and 23. Worshipers will reflect on the Reformation, which marks its 502nd anniversary in October.
The Reformation is known as the period of history begun with Martin Luther nailing his “95 Theses” to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany on October 31, 1517. At the time, the Catholic Church was selling “indulgences,” or certificates forgiving sin, to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Luther opposed this, and his 95 Theses ignited a movement claiming God’s forgiveness was given freely. Some say the Reformation changed not only Christianity and culture, but ushered in the modern age in countless ways.
More than 500 years later, Reformation has become much more than simply a period in history; it is a core value of the Lutheran community. Much of the Lutheran movement gathers around the conviction that the church is “always reforming." In October, those who attend Word Up will examine three “Modern Reformations.”
On October 9 at 7 pm, the topic will be the Second Vatican Council and how this season of change for the Roman Catholic Church changed Lutherans, too. The October 16 session will celebrate the role of women in ministry. On October 23, those gathered will look at changes in the understanding of gender and sexuality, particularly unfolding welcome to the LGBTQ community.
Worship will be led by Pastor Joseph Graumann. “While some religions pride themselves on exclusivity, Lutherans affirm that Jesus welcomes everyone,” he said. “Our church commits itself to change for the sake of greater inclusion.”
St. Stephen Lutheran Church was filled with people and music as the worship service on September 29 began with the blessing of the Woodberry and Harris pipe organ, a gift of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church. Used for the first time at a St. Stephen Sunday service last week, the 1892 tracker organ served other congregations in the greater Boston area for many years.
Mt. Olivet purchased the organ in 1981, and had it rebuilt using a combination of professionals from the Andover Organ Company and church volunteers. It served the Shrewsbury congregation from 1982 until earlier this year when the church closed and offered the instrument to SSLC. Once again, John and Fay Morlock from Andover Organ Company were involved, this time “primarily taking the organ apart and putting it back together,” John said, with the addition of manufacturing some new parts and modifying older parts. To change the pitch, he modified the pedal mechanism, moved the trackers that play the pipes, added a pipe and moved notes to add one at the bottom. The Morlocks, as well as many former parishioners from Mt. Olivet, attended Sunday’s service.
Music included hymns, a choir anthem, and a postlude that showcased both the range of the organ and the skill and enthusiasm of music director Stan Hanson. Members of both the voice and handbell choirs participated. Stan says the organ “is exquisitely voiced to lead our worship services and interpret organ music from all periods. For a small tracker instrument, there are sufficient tonal resources to accompany congregational singing and interpret some of the ‘grand’ music composed for the organ,” he added.
A lovingly rebuilt Woodberry & Harris pipe organ with more than 120 years of providing beautiful music in churches around Massachusetts has found a new home at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough. The organ will be blessed and officially heard in its new home on Sunday, September 29, during the 10 am worship service. The public is invited.
Stan Hanson, St. Stephen’s organist and musical director, says the organ “is exquisitely voiced to lead our worship services and interpret organ music from all periods. For a small tracker instrument, there are sufficient tonal resources to accompany congregational singing and interpret some of the ‘grand’ music composed for the organ,” he added.
The organ is a gift of Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church in Shrewsbury, which recently closed. Not only the organ, but other worship items, including a sanctuary cross, candle holders, and paraments were given to St. Stephen.
One of about 30 organs the Boston-based Woodberry & Harris made, it was constructed in about 1892 and served its first congregation in Abington for 60 years before it wore out, was sold and stored for Andover Organ Company employee Richard Westerdale in a garage until he moved in 1981. John Morlock, another employee, was a friend of the Reverend Cliff Gerber, pastor of Mt. Olivet who hoped his church could acquire an organ, but knew the budget would be tight.
Mt. Olivet purchased the organ in 1981, but beautiful music at that point was just a idea, since the antique tracker organ required extensive and expensive rebuilding. Morlock suggested an economical alternative, a combination of professional rebuilding of the chests and working parts and skilled, loving labor by parishioners who refinished the organ and lent a hand with the literally heavy lifting.
A local artist with knowledge of early decorative arts, Molly Porter, took on the task of restoring the original designs that had been painted on the organ’s case pipes, and decided to volunteer her time and materials as a labor of love. The organ served the Shrewsbury congregation from 1982 until this spring.
With the gift of the organ to St. Stephen Lutheran Church came the need to disassemble the instrument, transport it from Shrewsbury to Marlborough, and reassemble it. Once again, John Morlock of Andover Organ Company, along with his wife, Fay, became involved. Morlock says although his work was “primarily taking the organ apart and putting it back together,” it also included manufacturing some new parts and modifying older parts. “The original pitch of the organ was sharper than what is used today,” he added, so he revised the pedal mechanism, moved the trackers that play the pipes, added a pipe and moved notes to add one at the bottom. “I took many of the pipes back to the shop, and made them speak better.” Morlock said they also made modifications to the upper structure, “so we’d have something to lean on as we tuned the organ.” Tracker organs should be tuned once or twice a year, he added.
“I am really glad the folks of Mt. Olivet saw fit to keep the organ in playable condition and the folks of St. Stephen wanted to give it a home,” Morlock said. Just like the people of Mt. Olivet, who treasured the instrument, Morlock has a special place in his heart for the Woodbury & Harris pipe organ. John and Fay were married at Mt. Olivet, and the organ played.
At the September 29 service, parishioners will give thanks for the generosity of the people of Mt. Olivet and bless the organ to the Glory of God. This festival services will feature the organ as the church commemorates St. Michael and All Angels.
A special organ concert will be held at St. Stephen Lutheran Church on November 24, at 5:00 pm, when music director Stanley Hanson will showcase the sounds of this fine, small tracker organ.
Saint Stephen Lutheran Church Music Director Stan Hanson demonstrates some of the capabilities of the new organ.
The Woodberry & Harris organ, fully assembled at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, ready for the September 29 service.
Close up of 3 pipes from the organ at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, painted in its original 19th Century design.
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.”
Music, games, Bible stories, crafts, snacks, and science projects will all be part of Vacation Bible Camp at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton Street (Route 85), Marlborough, Monday, July 29 to Friday, August 2, from 9 am to noon.
Register now by clicking here. Suggested fee for the entire week is $15 to $20, and scholarships are available. Although pre-registration is appreciated, walk-ins are also welcome.
“To Mars and Beyond” is the theme for this year’s program, which is open to children from Pre-K through Grade 5. With the church sanctuary decorated to resemble outer space, and a friendly alien puppet with a human friend on hand, the young “Voyagers” will enter an atmosphere of adventure and learn about how God is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine.
Each morning, participants will play games, create arts and crafts, conduct science experiments, sing, and hear Bible stories, as they discover how God shows them how to “go beyond” with faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and hope.
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. Sunday worship is at 9:30 am.
Music, games, Bible stories, crafts, snacks, and science projects will all be part of Vacation Bible Camp at Saint Stephen Lutheran Church, 537 Bolton St., Marlborough, Monday, July 29 to Friday, August 2, from 9 am to noon. Co-leaders Ann Gibson of Maynard and Dianne Bruno of Hudson will be joined by a volunteer staff of SSLC adults and teens.
“To Mars and Beyond” is the theme for this year’s program, which is open to children from Pre-K through Grade 5. Register your child now, by going to https//cokesburyvbs.com/saintstephenlutheran. There is also a link on the Saint Stephen Lutheran Church website: www.saintstephenlutheran.com. Those who are able are asked to donate a fee of $15-$20 per child. Scholarships are also available.
With the church sanctuary decorated to resemble outer space, and a friendly alien puppet with a human friend on hand, the young “Voyagers” will enter an atmosphere of adventure and learn about how God is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine. Each morning, participants will play games, create arts and crafts, conduct science experiments, sing, and hear Bible stories, as they discover how God shows them how to “go beyond” with faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and hope.
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.