Property Improvements at St. Stephen’s

I am so excited about all of the property improvements here at St. Stephen’s, and I hope you are too! As you look around the building, you will see evidence of some of the work going on. Some projects are visible and some are not, so I wanted to take a moment and give everyone an update. Also, thank you for being patient with the mess during the construction.

The flat, rubber roofing that is above the parish hall, kitchen, and part of the nursery school wing has been replaced by Northwestern roofing. There was tapered insulation installed and that will take care of drainage issues that we have had in the past.

There are also several electrical improvements in the works. Most of the light fixtures in the building have been replaced with LED fixtures. The remaining fixtures will be replaced in the next couple of weeks and all light bulbs will be changed to LED bulbs. The electrical panels are being replaced this week. All exit signs will be changed to LED signs and a new generator will be installed within the next couple of weeks. Blackman Electric is doing all of the electrical work.

All of the ceiling tiles in the building are being replaced. They have all been removed, the ceiling tile grid has been painted white and the new tiles will be installed within the next couple of weeks.

You may wonder how we are going to pay for all of this work. The Bishop authorized St. Stephen’s to spend $100,000 from the gift from Jean Mertens for property improvements. We are estimating that the total cost for the roofing, electrical and ceiling tile work will be $90,612. I have been working with a property committee that includes church members Don Meeder, Dave Vogt, Eric Schuette, George Willis and Mike Felmlee. We have looked at the need for the projects, reviewed all estimates and made recommendations to the Bishop’s Committee, and monitored the work that is being done. Once we have the final numbers for all of these projects, the property committee will meet and look at other projects that still need to be done at St. Stephen’s. A huge thank you to all of the property committee members for all their hard work!

You may also notice all of the beautiful landscaping that has been done. We had a wonderful opportunity to partner with an agency called PRI Community and they have done all of the landscaping at St. Stephen’s free of charge. PRI Community is a company that is dedicated to improving the public good through providing services to community organizations and businesses without cost. PRI Community works with Erie social service agencies to identify individuals living in Erie that would benefit from PRI Community employment. PRI Community provides employees with English language knowledge as well as technical trade skills. The goal for this program is for these individual to gain the skills necessary for future employment. PRI Community has spent four days this week, with a large crew of workers, working on our property. I invite all of you to take a stroll around our grounds and see the difference. It is quite impressive and we are very blessed to have this opportunity! PRI Community will be returning the week of August 14th for 3 days to clean the inside of our building top to bottom. Again, what a blessing!

This is certainly a very exciting time here at St. Stephen’s! Please contact me if you have any questions about what has been going on (814.474.5490,

Claire Wachter, Parish Administrator


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

1070 Dutch Road, Fairview, PA 16415 * 814.474.5490