From St. Stephen to St. Stephen’s
Sunday worship at St. Stephen Lutheran Church on June 26 will be a celebration, but one tinged with sadness as the Marlborough, MA church marks its last Sunday with Pastor Joseph Graumann at the helm. Pr. Graumann, who has been at St. Stephen since August 1, 2016, has accepted a call in his home state of New Jersey. Ironically, that congregation is St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, in Woodbury, NJ.
St. Stephen, Marlborough, was Pr. Graumann’s first call after he graduated from Gettysburg Seminary. He reflected on his time with his first congregation and what he looks forward to in his next call.
"My time in Marlborough has been a tremendous gift. St. Stephen is a dynamic and vibrant congregation that puts welcoming others and blessing its community at the center of its identity. They have shown me that same welcome and same blessing in my time here. Their culture of fun is something to aspire to going forward,” he said.
“While my current call is hard to leave, I am thrilled to be returning home to New Jersey. I look forward to being closer to family and friends and to joining another dynamic, welcoming congregation. There must be something about the name, ’Stephen!'"
For the people of St. Stephen, Marlborough, they will engage in the process of calling their next spiritual leader. In the Lutheran tradition, an interim pastor is assigned while the New England Synod looks for a new pastor to match the needs and goals of the congregation. Interim clergy are often pastors who specialize in this role.
The search and call process can take a year or more, and typically includes an online survey for parishioners, part of the thoughtful assessment and prayerful discernment about their work together in ministry and mission. St. Stephen Lutheran, as a congregation of the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is assigned a liaison, who works with both churches and candidates to share information and facilitate good matches.
In church calendar language, the time between Pentecost and Advent is also known as “ordinary time,” but the service on June 26 will be far from ordinary as it celebrates not only the Gospel, but also St. Stephen’s beloved pastor. There will be special music from the handbell and vocal choirs during the worship service, and a reception following the service.