June 2019 Newsletter (PDF)

From the Interim Priest

I was recently given a commemorative plate made for St. Stephen’s 125th anniversary in 1969. What struck me was the short paragraph written on the back of the plate.

For 125 years, St. Stephen’s Memorial Church has stood as a symbol of the gospel and as a beacon of concern for the people of greater Lynn. The present building was the gift of Enoch Redington Mudge in memory of his son, Lt. Col. Charles Redington Mudge, who was killed in the battle at Gettysburg in 1863. The neighborhood around the church has changed from decade to decade, but St. Stephen’s has always been and will continue to be an abiding source of strength to those who need assurance of God’s grace, and a haven of Christian love for all men.

Besides possibly adding “and women” to the last sentence, this could have been written this year to summarize the core values of St. Stephen’s Church. I find this remarkable because it is sometimes assumed that the social justice work of St Stephen’s is somehow something new.

How we reach out to our neighbors has changed but our desire to serve has been on going. The work of the Food Pantry, Youth Outreach, and Children’s programs including KIC Summer Camp and After School, Summer Learning, and Christmas Present Project for Kids are core to our responding to the love we have found in Jesus. This love is also reflected in our desired to help change the world around us. It is important that the Youth Pride Day celebration is on our front lawn for everyone to see. The work of the Beloved Community Team addressing white supremacy and racial bias comes from being followers of Jesus. Our support of ECCO fighting for the safety and right of immigrants also grows out of these core beliefs.

I also know that being “a haven of Christian love for all men (and women)” is not without costs. I am sure that some of the work St. Stephen’s did in the 1960’s was controversial. Yet, without knowing any details, we are the evidence that those conflicts were worked through. Our efforts today can sometimes be controversial. Our challenge is to continue to love and respect each other as we talk, pray, laugh, argue and cry about serving our neighbors. I am proud to say that I am a part of St. Stephen’s as we continue to be “a symbol of the gospel and a beacon of concern for the people of greater Lynn.”

The Rev. Tom Barrington