By the Rev. Judith Jones, vicar of St. Stephen’s, Newport
St. Stephen’s is a small congregation. Though it would be easy for us to conclude that we can’t make any difference in Newport, we feel called to live as Christ’s body in the world. Since we sometimes feel more like a shoulder and an arm than a whole body, we work collaboratively with other churches and organizations to accomplish much more than we could do alone.
Every Monday night people who are hungry for food or good company come to St. Stephen’s for Stone Soup, a free community dinner. Members of our congregation prepare and serve the food on the first Monday night of each month, but the Presbyterians, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and Unitarians take turns preparing and serving food on the other Mondays. For the last several months an ecumenical group of musicians has been providing live music during the dinners, nourishing spirits as well as bodies.
On Wednesday mornings we have a lively ecumenical adult study group. Over the last couple of years we have covered a wide range of topics: an overview of the history of Christianity; a study of Genesis; women in the Bible; Christianity among the world religions; and a discussion of God at 2000, focusing on our beliefs about who God is (and who God is not). Currently we are reading and discussing Robin Meyers’ Saving Jesus from the Church. Our backgrounds are different, and so are our perspectives. The variety makes for engaging discussions, and we learn from each other.
Other collaborative efforts include our hosting PFLAG, a supportive organization for the LGBT+ community; our participation in Peace Village, which offers a summer camp that teaches peacemaking skills to children; our annual Christmas party for needy members of the Latino community; and our cooperative work with Grace Wins Haven and the Lincoln County Winter Shelter, which provide a day center and a shelter for unhoused people in our area.
By ourselves we are small, but with God’s help and in cooperation with other members of Christ’s body, we are mighty! Thanks be to God.