“God’s Work. Our Hands”
As a congregation of Jesus followers, we are all instructed to help others. Those who work in the Social Ministry of our congregation research and raise issues of need and social justice in our local community, state, nation and around the world, and then let us know how we can all contribute. “When one congregation or a group of congregations gathers for service in their local communities, they are the church in that place, taking care of that part of God’s vineyard,” says Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
St. Stephen Lutheran Church is involved in the following ministries.
- Avalon: a shelter for battered women and children
- Avalon provides shelter and support to those experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault in the Greater Williamsburg area. By offering tools for safety, self-sufficiency, and empowerment, Avalon works to break the cycle of abuse and helps create a positive future. The congregation donates specific items to the shelter when the organization identifies a particular need. Contact Emily Rossiter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Community of Faith Mission: an emergency shelter program for the homeless
- St. Stephen teams with Williamsburg United Methodist Church to serve the homeless in our community who are housed at the Methodist Church. 50 St. Stephen congregants staff the shelter, providing meals for three days. Contact Jo Hanny (email@example.com) or Sandy Peterkin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Faith in Action: a social services organization
- Faith in Action fosters caring relationships between volunteers and members of the Greater Williamsburg area who are elderly, disabled or have long-term health needs. St. Stephen members aid the agency, which is devoted to helping older people live independently in their own homes. Contact Jeane Moore (email@example.com)
- FISH: an ecumenical emergency needs center
- St. Stephen members staff the Clothing Closet at FISH in November. They inspect, sort and label clothes that are then made available to those in need. In addition, nonperishable food is collected each week and distributed to FISH. Contact Dianne Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- From His Hands Ministry: feeding the homeless
- More than 50 members of St. Stephen, working in two teams, are involved in feeding some of the homeless in Williamsburg who live in area motels. Individuals make entrées, side dishes, salad and dessert. Members also provide water, pet food and toys for children. After the meals are assembled and bagged at church, they are delivered to the motels for distribution to those in need. Contact Randy Punchard (Randy4Golf@aol.com) or John Moravetz (email@example.com)
- Greater Williamsburg Outreach Mission (GWOM): a coalition of faith groups
- GWOM is an incorporated coalition of faith groups working in coordination with multiple local public/private social agencies. These groups are committed to the critical needs of the homeless, or those at risk of becoming homeless. Contact John Moravetz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The Grove Christian Outreach Center: a center providing services to the elderly, poor and disabled
- Cookie-making kits are prepared at Christmastime by St. Stephen Middle School students and then delivered to Grove. In addition, new sneakers are collected by St. Stephen members each August to be donated to children through Grove. Contact Marilyn Johnson (email@example.com)
- PORT: a winter shelter program for the homeless
- The PORT program is designed for interfaith congregations located in any area of Newport News to come together to open their parish or social halls and provide food and shelter for homeless individuals or families. Members of St. Stephen assist by checking in guests (up to 75 on any given night), providing meals (breakfast/dinner) and staffing the facility. Contact Randy Punchard (Randy4Golf@aol.com) or David Allen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Prayer Shawls: for those who need prayer
- People either come together to knit and crochet shawls, or they knit them at home. These are given to people who are ill or housebound, and to students as they graduate. Contact Carol Weirs (email@example.com)
St. Stephen Lutheran Church provides space for the following groups to meet:
- Al-Anon meets in the Conference Room/Library on Friday afternoons at 3.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meets in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evenings at 7 and on Saturday afternoons at 2.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness meets in the Fellowship Hall on Tuesday evenings at 7.
- We serve across the state as a leader among Lutheran churches in our response to the United Lutheran Appeal, which supports nine ministries, agencies, camps and schools associated with the Virginia Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
- We belong to the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, an ecumenical advocacy group to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The United States
- We respond to emergencies in our country with our time and money. For example, after Hurricane Katrina, some of our members made trips to New Orleans to help rebuild the damaged buildings.
- We engage in advocacy ministry through Bread for the World, which urges our national legislators to authorize more hunger relief around the world.
- We maintain a partnership with our sister congregation, the Mongai Lutheran Parish in Marangu, Tanzania.
- We support students through the Godparents for Tanzania program.
- Members of St. Stephen have generously supported schooling for students in Tanzania with financial gifts. One such student, Roggy, visited the congregation in September 2014. These gifts and interest make schooling possible for students at all levels, who would not be able to attend school without this support. Contact Marilyn Johnson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- We participate in Lutheran World Relief projects, such as constructing warm quilts and backpacks for worldwide distribution to refugees and to disaster areas.
- People meet monthly at St. Stephen to produce quilts that are given to Lutheran World Relief for use around the world. Contact Pat Jano (email@example.com)
- We support the ELCA World Hunger offerings.
- ELCA World Hunger is uniquely positioned to reach communities in need. From health clinics to microloans, water wells to animal husbandry, community meals to advocacy, gifts to ELCA World Hunger make it possible for the ELCA to respond, supporting sustainable solutions that get at the root causes of hunger and poverty. Contact Jim Ivey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- We support Lutheran Family Services of VA.
- Lutheran Family Services helps children in foster care find temporary or permanent families: they strengthen families so that they remain strong and intact; they help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live and thrive in their communities; they help children with emotional and behavioral challenges succeed academically; and they give support to caregivers and those grieving. Contact Ellen Bushman (email@example.com)