Parishioners at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlborough, welcomed a new pastor earlier this month, and the warmth of that welcome has brought joy to Pastor Rheanna Goodrich and her family as they settle in to their new home in Marlborough. “The call has been amazing so far,” says Pr Rheanna. “The congregation has been so welcoming to our family, and super supportive.”
At St. Stephen, the new pastor is “looking forward to getting to know everybody here, working with people to figure out what comes next.” Her focus is both the church and the Marlborough-Hudson community. She notes that “a lot of people don’t know Jesus, a loving, benevolent God. There is so much pain and brokenness.” The call of the church, she says “is to help heal.”
Pr Rheanna comes to SSLC from Michigan, where she has spent the major portion of her life, but New England is also in her background. Born in Montana, she lived with her parents and sister in New Hampshire from age 2 to Grade 4, and has fond memories of outdoor activities. “We ran around in the woods all the time and loved playing outside.”
Her family attended Baptist and Episcopal churches, but she came back to her Lutheran roots in Michigan during her high school years. Her faith was important, but Pr. Rheanna didn’t realize then that it would become her vocation and went on to earn a BS in English with a focus in Creative Writing at Central Michigan University. After graduation, “I quickly realized I needed a job and went into business,” she recalls of her time spent managing apartment complexes. “Then God got involved.”
Active in her congregation leading programs, and serving as council president, the thought of becoming a pastor emerged, but she was unsure “whether I wanted to take on the responsibility in my 20s.” She was now married - she and Mara will mark their 21st anniversary this summer. Talking with Mara and her pastor, eventually “there were enough signs that I couldn’t ignore it. This was in my heart.”
She enrolled in the five year program at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, and daughter Kaili, now 12, was born during this time. Pr Rheanna accepted a first call to a church in Au Gres, MI, “a lovely, rural community experience,” and a second call to Bridgeport, MI, closer to Mara’s work.
Accepting her third call meant a move to Massachusetts for the family of three and four cats. “It is fabulous to be back in a place of diverse culture, people, language, and food,” she says. The family likes the outdoors, especially hiking, biking, and camping. Pr Rheanna also enjoys creative writing, including science fiction as well as poetry. Among many new and old adventures, she would love to try snowshoeing again, take Kaili to Hampton Beach, to experience it as she had as a child, and all three would like to explore Salem, and the history of a very distinct era.
“We were looking for a new adventure,” Pr. Rheanna says with a smile, adding that “New England is a homecoming for me and had everything we were looking for.”
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. Sunday worship is at 10 am, with Sunday School at 9.
Melanie Whapham, second front right, who delivered the completed kitchen kits to Fresh Start Furniture Bank, with Fresh Start volunteers, from left: Jocelyn Milton, Donna Zinck, Ann Cattarin, (Melanie Whapham), and Sarah Giansante.
Volunteers at St. Stephen Lutheran Church packed 22 bags with kitchen items for Fresh Start Furniture Bank. From left, Martha Domke, Peg Harbert, Paula Blomquist, Joni Schaulkhauser, and Melanie Whapham pause for a photo.
Members of St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Marlboro, packaged 22 kitchen-themed welcome bags for clients of Fresh Start Furniture Bank, filled with cutting boards, measuring cups, strainers, mixing bowls, cooking utensils, and more, and delivered them this week, along with specialty items, ranging from baking pans and cookie sheets to toaster ovens and wire whisks. Extra and additional items filled another half-dozen bags, and boxes with small appliances topped off a rolling cart as volunteers transferred them from the church to a vehicle for delivery to the Hudson-based Fresh Start.
The project was made possible by donations from those who attended the recent jazz concert presented by The Rebecca Pagano Quartet as part of St. Stephen Presents, a quarterly musical program. Music lovers were asked to bring kitchen gadgets or small appliances as their admission fee to the well-attended event. Many also made cash contributions. More than $500 was donated. Another $500 from Thrivent Financial was used to purchase additional items people who are setting up new households might need. (Thrivent is a Fortune 500 financial services company that sponsors generosity programs; Thrivent members from St. Stephen applied for the funding for the Fresh Start kitchen kits.)
“We were delighted to partner with an organization as exciting as Fresh Start Furniture Bank,” said Martha Domke, who along with Melanie Whapham spearheaded the project through the church’s Social Ministry team. “Fresh Start has been very supportive of our efforts and we feel confident that the kits will go to deserving individuals and families. We look forward to working with them again in the future.”
“All of the volunteers at FSFB are happy, encouraging folks,” Melanie added. “It is hard not to catch their enthusiasm.” St. Stephen Lutheran Church has supported Fresh Start in a variety of projects over the years, she noted. A collection of small furniture pieces is a potential future endeavor.
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. Sunday worship is at 10 am, with Sunday School preceding it at 9 am.