This morning Mike Davis announced that The Rev. Paul V. Olsson will be joining us as our new priest in late November. See the entire announcement below.
Father Paul was born and raised in South Jersey. College took him to Baltimore, and an early interest in East Asian and international relations drew him to New York for graduate study at Columbia University. Following a career in university administratration at Columbia and NYU, Fr. Paul pursued his true calling to ordained ministry and attended The General Theological Seminary. Ordained in 1999, he went on to serve as Assistant at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church on the Upper West Side where he worked to develop the parish’s ministry with children and families. In 2003 he was called to St. Paul’s in Morris Plains New Jersey. He has served there for 17 years. When you meet Fr. Paul, you immediately know that he loves being a priest. Fr. Paul, though grounded in Anglican tradition, is keenly aware of the need for the church to address the many challenges of the changing times in which we live.
Gracious God, with joyful anticipation, we give thanks for the calling of Paul Olsson to serve as our new priest. May his appointment to this position be for him and for us a blessing. May we grow together in our understanding of mutual ministry, evermore seeking to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to love one another as he loves us and to demonstrate that love to our community and a world so desperate to hear good news.
As our prayers for him and his prayers for us rise to You in the days to come, open our hearts and minds to receive one another with hope and goodwill. Prepare us for the tasks You set before us.
In coming to the conclusion of the calling and appointment of a new priest for Saint Stephen’s, we give thanks for the Holy Spirit’s moving among us, inspiring our Vestry and Ministry Discernment Team in their deliberations. Grant them a sense of fulfillment in their work.
We also give thanks for the leadership shown by our wardens Mary, Mike, and Tom, Shannon our bishop, and Canon to the Ordinary Lynn Bates. Grant that their work together in ministry discernment for Saint Stephen’s might be the foundation for greater work to come.
And we give thanks for the Interim Ministry Team—Carole, Diane, Catherine, and Larry—who have proclaimed the gospel and administered the sacraments with love and faithfulness, helping us to see our past with greater clarity and to acknowledge with hope and determination who we are called to be.
For all that is to come, grant us wisdom, grant us courage, serving You, whom we adore. In the name of Jesus. AMEN.
Announcement from Mike Davis:
“I am excited and proud today to be introducing you to the next Priest at St. Stephen’s – the Reverend Paul V. Olsson. I’m excited because I really like Paul, and like what I see for our future with him leading us, and because the MDT and the Vestry would echo this sentiment. I’m proud because all of us – MDT and Vestry, but also all of you patiently waiting for the process to work – have done our jobs well in the face of significant stress from the pandemic, as well as the ever present stress of expectations, of personal lives to be lived, and of a not always efficient process for getting to this point.
Keep in mind, from now on, that this process was different from the usual for a couple of reasons, chief among them being our desire for a ‘Mutual Ministry partner’, which we felt was best expressed as Priest-in-Partnership – now officially Priest-in-Charge. Paul has embraced this role and all that it implies, and is equally excited to get started with us. What I’ve told the Vestry – more than once – I now say to you: we all have an obligation to insure that this unique approach to shared ministry is realized. And so we seek a shared ministry that includes us all – no exceptions.”
It is certainly unplanned, but entirely fitting, that Pauls’ tenure here will likely begin just before the beginning of the Christian year – Advent. It is likely, that is, that his first Sunday leading our services will be either November 22 or 29. I can’t wait. In the interim, Paul will be bringing a 17 year tenure at his New Jersey parish to a close, and making plans to be with us here in Addison County, Vermont. I ask your prayers for him, for the people of St. Paul’s, Morris Plains, NJ., and all who are linked with this significant change. God bless us all.
St. Stephen’s was well represented downtown today for the grand reopening of Main Street & Merchants Row along with the “first passenger train.” Many thanks to Amy and Larry for the photos.
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Meeting a Food Need in the community members of the Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community, based in Cornwall, organized food distribution activities in Middlebury, Salisbury, and Shoreham. Responding to a request through the Middlebury Area Clergy Association, several members of the St. Stephen’s congregation joined to help in the socially-distanced distribution of food to many families with children. Pictured here are Ed McGuire and Joe McVeigh helping outside Mary Hogan School on a rainy Wednesday in early September.
June 3, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ, As our hearts continue to break and our grief overwhelms us about racial injustice as well as the pandemic, there are 3 very concrete ways we can do more now to get involved in efforts for racial justice locally:
1) Join Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – you can find the group on Facebook (SURJ Middlebury). Also, email Joanna Colwell, firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the SURJ email list.
2) Join the Rutland NAACP – naacprutland.org. Annual dues are $30, $15 for youth. You become a member of the national organization and receive its excellent magazine, THE CRISIS.
3) Find something to read or listen to. This list is comprehensive: http://bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES. If you don’t know where to start, try reading THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS, by Isabel Wilkerson; and listening to the podcast Seeing White, produced by Scene on Radio.
Finally, let us continue to pray without ceasing for justice and peace.
The Leadership of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Middlebury, VT
June 2, 2020
Dear People of God in the Diocese of Vermont,
Yesterday, members of our diocese prayed and fasted as we joined people of many faiths to mourn the deaths of over 100,000 people from COVID-19. We also grieved the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade and countless others whose lives were taken because they were black. We lamented the grip of white supremacy that has allowed them no justice. We lamented and mourned morning, noon and night. We prayed and read our sacred texts, a balm in this troubled time.
Last night the president used military force to violently disperse peacefully gathered people, including our siblings of the Diocese of Washington. Just moments before, the president said he supports peaceful demonstrators. Clearly, this was a lie. I denounce the use of force required to clear his way to pose with a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square. Using precious objects of our faith as props in a display to uphold white dominance and violence is a blatant display of evil.
The words of our Bible are the lifeblood of our prayers. They teach us about peace, love and justice, and sustain us when we need hope. The words of the Bible connect us to the life and teachings of Jesus. Through him we have learned to love our neighbor and build beloved community.
The circumstances of the pandemic and the current unrest have brought this nation to a place where we can no longer deny the brokenness of a society that is built on the subjugation and oppression of many while a few control most of the economic wealth. The church must call out this systemic callousness and disregard for the dignity of human beings. We must realize that striving for justice and peace will make us uncomfortable and challenge many to give up their privilege.
We must reaffirm our renunciation of evil, and renew our commitment to Jesus Christ. Please pray for the people of St. John’s. Pray for the healing of our nation; that we would be healed from the viruses of racism and COVID-19.
Peace and blessings,
Watch our own Carole Wageman, via YouTube, with a thought for the word of the day – or the word until next time.
This page starts on April 6, 2020. Click here to view earlier Angel Card Reflections – Part I
Angel Card Message Number #14 4-21-2020
Angel Card Message Number #13 4-9-2020
Angel Card Message Number #12 4-8-2020
Angel Card Message Number #11 4-7-2020
Angel Card Message Number #10 4-6-2020
How are you living into and finding meaning in your faith during this extraordinary time? If you’re willing, share how you complete the sentence Faith-Filled Living is… You are welcome to submit more than one sentence by replying as indicated below. We’ll be sharing these sentences in the days and weeks ahead to spread comfort and joy as we journey together.
• Click here to fill out an electronic form.
• Or, please send an email to email@example.com with the Subject “Faith Filled Living Is”.
• Or, you can mail yours to the church, 3 Main Street, Middlebury 05753.
Faith Filled Living is
…breathing deeply, letting go, and remembering that God is the center of my life.
…sending a postcard expressing love and caring in some way to all the friends and relatives in my address book over the coming weeks. I have a huge postcard collection which I’ve gathered for years, but barely used recently.
…practicing patience and responding with love instead of anger.
…seeking God in the midst of the tasks and chores of my daily life and giving thanks often for being safe and nourished.
…learning to pray always, remembering especially as I pray all those who need God and who suffer in this time of great loss, anxiety, and uncertainty.
…characterized by compassion, love and the sharing of the great abundance given us by our God.
…an ever-present listening ear.
…doing all you can with all you have for all you can.
…is realizing that, in Auden’s words, we can still “stagger on, rejoicing.”
Jack DesBois will be featured as the cantor for Trinity Shelburne’s online The Great Vigil of Easter Saturday, April 11, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. service. Jack shared this YouTube with the text on the screen for his friends at St. Stephen’s as this evening approaches.
Saturday was such a beautiful day for a walk in the rolling hills by Lake Champlain; I picked up this branch of pine that had been torn from its tree and thought about all the ways we cling and are torn.
I remembered the Palm Sunday I was in Jerusalem, crowds of people thronged the streets following the white robes man riding a donkey. People of every color and tribe, different languages swirled around us as we were carried by the crowd from the Mt of Olives to Gethsemane, our trail of pilgrims flanked on each side by the young Israeli IDF soldiers, Ak47s at the ready, watching, poised. Not much changed I thought. How we cling to what we know and assume to be right. Only He knew that we have to die before we live, and sometimes we need to be torn away before we are freed to live.