Outreach ministry is at the heart of the St. Stephens community. Here are some of our current projects:
As we do our grocery shopping, a number of us remember to buy peanut butter, cereal, or diapers to bring to church for Families Forward Food Pantry. Mary Beth Schipke keeps us apprised of the items needed, and she faithfully delivers the goods from church to the food pantry. In the summer, we also buy and fill back packs with supplies needed by local children to go back to school.
Families Forward is a not-for-profit organization that helps “families in need achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support.”
Homeless Ministry at Pepper Tree Park, Tustin
For some years now, first started by Lindi Willhite and her mother, Judi, St. Stephens parishioners have been reaching out to homeless people who live in the vicinity of Peppertree Park in Tustin. They offer a listening ear, a word of encouragement, food, waterproof mats to sleep on, and access to the laundromat to wash their clothes. Parishioners support this ministry with checks, quarters, and plastic bottles for cash.
“This ministry started out from my daily interactions with the various homeless people who, through unfortunate circumstances, make the park their home during the day. As I walked my dog, I soon recognized the ‘regulars’ and would say ‘hi’ as I passed by. Progressively, I stopped and had longer conversations with individuals as their trust in me grew. I started asking them what their needs were, both physically and spiritually, and started to fill their requests for food, clothing, pet food, tarps, etc. as I was able to. As the year and seasons went by, the ministry grew and St. Stephens became a wonderful partner in this ministry. We have collected and redeemed for cash plastic bottles to purchase warm jackets, tarps to protect people’s possessions, gift cards for local food places and laundromats, pet food, and socks. But most of all, it has allowed us to serve those who are often ignored by providing prayer and human connection.”
Worship at Silverado Memory Care
Twice a month, Bob Taylor leads a group from St. Stephen’s in ministry to residents of the Silverado Tustin Hacienda Memory Care Community. This assisted-living home cares for people with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions. The purpose of the ministry is to provide spiritual comfort, the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the hope of eternal life to about 25 residents who attend and participate on a voluntary basis along with staff, caregivers, and family members. We use an adapted Morning Prayer Service with single-use bulletins printed in a large font. We begin each service by welcoming and greeting the residents one by one. We sing hymns, offer a scripture reading and a brief homily. We pray for the nation, the world, for the residents, families and staff at Silverado, and we pray individually for each of the residents in attendance.
As Bob says, “This is a particularly rewarding and at times moving experience for our volunteers ministering to those in their final days who can be suffering from partial or total loss of sight, hearing, speech and other physical and mental challenges. Their faith makes them well. Praise the Lord!”
The Reverend Canon Dr. Alison Barfoot and Global Mission Mobilization
St. Stephen’s is spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to people in the far reaches of East Africa by supporting the ministry and work of The Reverend Canon Dr. Alison Barfoot. With a lot of cross-cultural and international experience in her parish background, Alison was called to Uganda in 2004 to become Assistant for International Relations to the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda. That same year, she founded Global Mobilization Ministries. Alison seeks out Africans who are active in evangelism and trains them to increase their capacity for cross-cultural ministry. She then launches these evangelists in effective mission and outreach. Alison’s ministry is bearing fruit through these missional leaders who are bringing about incredible victories in difficult places for The Kingdom of God.
Operation Christmas Child
Each fall parishioners stuff shoes boxes with exciting and essential items for boys and girls in three different age categories. These gift boxes become Christmas presents for children and teens living in impoverished parts of the world. This is “Operation Christmas Child” under the auspices of Samaritan’s Purse. We share in the joy of these young people who receive clothes, toys, school supplies, sports items, and toiletries, as well as Christian literature prepared in their language. We pray over the boxes and for their recipients. Terry Dixon heads up this ministry for St. Stephen’s, and she moves the boxes onto their next collection point before they are shipped overseas.
Six Peaks Mission Challenge
In recent years, The Diocese of Western Anglicans (DWA) has challenged parishes to raise funds for diocesan-supported missionaries working overseas and in the United States. Members of Stephen’s join parishioners from other churches to hike the three-mile trail at Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, CA. Hikers find sponsors, walk and talk, and stop along the way to pray for each of the missionaries, their ministries, and their needs. This event is held on a cool and sometimes rainy Saturday morning in January or February and provides a wonderful opportunity for exercise, fellowship, prayer, and support raising for our missionaries in the Anglican Communion.