Author Archive | Megin Sewak


Dear St. Stephen’s Family and Friends,

It’s been a summer about home.  Like the work taking place on our community home of St. Stephen’s under the direction of our Property Team, Vickie and I have been about the same business here in Barrington.  This is our first summer at our home in six years.  It’s not that our house was under neglect, but a house is like the self; a house needs tending in order to be lived in and to serve as a home on all levels.  Our friends keep asking us if we’re getting the house ready to sell?  Our answer is:  we are enhancing our home as a place to live for years to come.  I’m not a big project guy by nature, but I did take down our screen porch by myself and was able to avoid catastrophe.  (Check out the picture.)  We will have a new patio installed within the next two weeks to go with a new air conditioner (the old one simply gave up its life) and new paint.  Taking down the screened porch opened up our family room to considerably more light and Vickie and I are adjusting to the beauty of being able to look out and see God’s handiwork.  All this leads me to a spirit of gratitude to God; for time, for love, for a home, for the resources, for family, for life.  While this is taking place our home at St. Stephen’s is being renovated as well.  New lights to see better and enjoy the light.  A new roof to cover all we value.  New ceiling tiles to honor our home.  The investment of parishioners to improve the look outside to go with the improved look inside.  Eventually all the love being given will open hearts and doors to the strangers who hunger for just such a home as St. Stephen’s.  All this leads to a spirit of gratitude to God; for leaders, for staff, for resources, for people, for faith, for love, for Jesus.   We are blessed indeed.

Looking forward to seeing many of you this weekend.  See you in Church.

Love and blessings,


Strategy Sessions and Goals, Part 2

Last week I wrote a bit about the church strategy sessions held earlier in the year. Today I am writing about the goals that were proposed as a result of those sessions. I say proposed goals because because they do not become designated goals until the strategy group presents them to the congregation and listens to the congregational feedback. In this step we will be looking to determine what the will of the people of the church is. It is for all of us TOGETHER to discuss and then move ahead with what the majority of the people decide is the correct course. This work cannot succeed unless the majority of the people believe in it and are behind it.

The Bishop’s Committee is still working to define and refine the proposed goals. In August we will present to the congregation our proposed goals in detail with proposed action steps and names of people responsible for accomplishing them. What I am presenting here is just an outline – just an appetizer to get you interested in hearing more.

In choosing these goals, our focus was to build upon what we do well, and also to strengthen our weaknesses so that St. Stephen’s becomes the best that it can be. The proposed goals can be divided into three categories: work that has already begun, primary goals (need to accomplish sooner rather than later) and secondary goals.

Work that is already in process

* Schedule a presentation of the strategy work and resulting proposed goals to congregation AND LISTEN TO THEIR INPUT

* Property improvements – most visible by the congregation at this point in time

* Structure and organize an Outreach Team

* Create a financial sustainability plan

Primary goals

* Increase ASA (Average Sunday Attendance) by 20% from May of 2017 to May of 2018. Our average attendance in May of 2017 was 83, so that means we are reaching for an average of 100 people in church (sum of attendance at both services) every Sunday by May of 2018.

* Have in place a complete Christian formation program for all ages for fall of 2017

* Establish a process of welcome, assimilation and involvement of new people

* Define and communicate membership and membership process for St. Stephen’s

* Deepen the integration of the Nursery School as a ministry of the church

* Examine the staffing structure for our church. The old model of full time rector with support staff is not financially possible at this point in time, so what combination of people and responsibilities will enable us to be successful?

Secondary goals

* Improve communication, particularly our web presence

* Examine and communicate the characteristics of a healthy church

This is not an exhaustive list. We certainly named many other worthy goals as we held our discussions. This list is our attempt to be realistic in what we can accomplish, needing to hold some other items for future work.

If you have any questions or comments about these proposed goals, our process in establishing them, or any other aspect of life at St. Stephen’s, please do not hesitate to talk to any member of the Bishop’s Committee. We welcome your feedback and your questions.

Cindy Willis, Bishop’s Warden

Thoughts on Strategic Planning from the Bishop’s Warden

In reflecting on our most recent strategic planning sessions, it is easy to see the hand of God at work guiding our discussions and deliberations. For this planning team, Fr. Al assembled a diverse group of people. The 15 people represented a range of ages, backgrounds, experiences, gifts and talents. Some folks had been Episcopalian for many years, some for only a short time. Some had lived in NW Pa their entire lives, some moved here from other parts of the country. All of these unique individuals came together wanting to answer only one question: how do we make St. Stephen’s, Fairview the best that it can be?

We began each of our four sessions with worship, including a Bible passage chosen to focus us on that morning’s discussion topic. During our discussions there were serious times, and there were times of laughter. No one came with a personal agenda, and all ideas and thoughts were considered and respected. Of course there were also plenty of yummy snacks.

First we took a walk through the parish history, which gave us a shared knowledge and understanding of what has happened in the past and how we got to where we are today. From there we discussed what we do well, and what areas need improvement. Those were mighty long lists!

As much as we wanted to, we knew that we could not do everything immediately, and so we had the tough decision of where to focus our attention first. What will help us the most to do God’s work in our part of the world – help us to welcome in and minister to God’s people? Eventually we decided on a group of goals including, but not limited to, new member welcome and incorporation, care and formation of members of all ages, financial stability, and the maintenance and repair of our property.

I will write in more detail about the goals in the next Voice of Vision article. In the meantime I invite and encourage you to talk to, and ask questions of, the Strategic Planning group: Don Inderlied, MJ Radock, Dorene Sommers, Brian Biggs, Dave Vogt, Steve Ropski, Susan Schuette, Jim Steele, John Rushe, Kristy Snyder, Missy Greene, Claire Wachter, and Megin Sewak.

Cindy Willis, Bishop’s Warden

1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, PA 16415 * 814.474.5490