Newsletter Contents

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Sowing the Seeds, Oktoberfest, Bell Choir, College Survival Care Packages, Prayer List, The Parish Paper.


Sowing the Seeds

How many people do you know who are searching for some reason to believe in God’s love?  I’ll bet there are more than you think. They are all around you.  You might even be searching yourself.

Just think about it for a while. Who doesn’t want to feel safe and protected?  Who would not wish to belong to a group of caring, supportive, non-judgmental people who are equal partners in a fellowship held together and permeated by a gentle Power who is Love personified?  Who would not welcome a refuge of genuine peace in our turbulent world?

And yet, our numbers are down….

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves a few questions.

What are we really about? Are we this fellowship of caring, supportive, peaceful Love?

And, perhaps most importantly, how are we sharing this Love among ourselves and with others?

What can we do as the body of Christ in South Plainfield to uncover and exercise the gifts of the Spirit we are blessed with?   How can we, individually and collectively, express the joy, the peace, the love that is ours as Christ’s body in the world?

We must begin by fully realizing and accepting these blessings, these gifts so freely offered to us.  Only then can we be a blessing to others.

Think about it  and , more importantly, pray about it!


St. Stephen’s 16th annual




19th, 2013,

5:00 – 7:00 PM


Pork Roast & Gravy (hot dogs available for kids)


Red Cabbage

Green Beans

Apple Sauce

Mashed Potatoes




Authentic German Food

All You Can Eat.

Advance Ticket Prices

Adults:  $12.00  –  Seniors:  $9.00

Children 5-12:  $6.00 – Under 5 – free

For reservations, sign up in the lobby or call the Church Office 908-757-4474

              Reservations are recommended

But walk-ins accepted

Takeout Dinners will be available

All Proceeds to go to charity

St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 3145 Park Ave.,

South Plainfield, NJ 07080


Bell Choir


Would you like to play the bells in church?

We will be doing it again this year and would love to have more people involved.

All you need to know is how to count, that isn’t too hard.

Speak to Patty Newton and she will give you more information.




College Survival Care Packages were sent to: 

Ryan Billich – Northeastern University,

Tom Bowden – East Stroudsburg University,

Dennis Hansen – Rutgers,

Billy Heurich – Temple University,

Ryan Marcoux – Penn State-Altoona,

Sarah McCarthy – Savannah College of Art & Design,

Kaitlin McGinnis – College of DuPage,

Christina Naphor  – in Tempe, Arizona,

Emily Reineke – Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers,

Allison Yuschik – Kean University.

Thank you for your generous donations that make this project possible!


We pray, O God…


For the church across denominations and across the globe


For the well-being of all creation


For peace and justice in the world, the nations and those in authority


We pray for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, our Full Communion partners, and for the whole Church—may we find ourselves united by the Holy Spirit.


We pray for our home, the earth, which you have created and declared good, may it, and all of creation be so, be good.


We pray for those in authority, especially President Obama, Governor Christe, and Mayor Anesh.


We pray for all nations Lord, especially those in severe turmoil, such as Kenya, Syria, Egypt, and Pakistan.


For the poor, oppressed, sick, bereaved, lonely, and for all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit



Joe & Joy Billich

Eric Conrad

Agnes Czarnecki

Steven Goetz

Bob & Joan Hassard

Helen Henne

Miriam Mentzell

Len Merlo

Vera Millet

Alan & Nancy Moore

Jim Moore

Dave Rapp

Evelyn & Ken Troy

Gail Warren


Jim Albert, brother of John Albert

Tom Badolato, stepdad of Michele Billich

Ray Barg, friend of Pat Hasbrouck

Holly Bowen, friend of Sharon Gianneschi

Bernie Cherry, nephew of Orvie Hoffman

Sal Cortese, uncle of John Cortese

Bonnie & Fred Dauncey, parents of Sandra Cortese

Bob Dienst, brother of Marylou Johnson

Gerry Fein, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

Fran Hackett, friend of Bob Buck

Tom Hanlon, cousin of Barbara Pallister

Leslie Hansen, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

Kathy Hoagland, friend of Carol McCarthy

Mr. & Mrs. Janisiak, friends of Marilyn Scalisi

Hannah Johnson, granddaughter of Marylou Johnson

Kimberly Mongiovi, friend of Jeremy Cortese

Dolores & Eugene Neuzil, parents of Bonnie Lombardo

Velma Nietman, mother of Linda Nietman

John O’Sullivan, friend of Marylou Johnson

Natalie Romeo, friend of Marylou Johnson

Ralph Scarcelle, friend of Eloise Newton

Karly Sison, newborn granddaughter of Barbara Cibak

Julie Sulu, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

Greg Talbott, friend of Linda Hansen

Al & Sharon Vastano, uncle & aunt of Melissa Cortese

Beth Williscroft, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

David, friend of Barbara Pallister




The family of Mike Agunst

The family of Steve Rusnak

The family of Andrew Olah



For special concerns


For Bishop Tracie L. Bartholomew

For Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton




We give thanks, O God…


For the life and witness of the faithful departed


Mike Agunst

Steve Rusnak

Andrew Olah




Coeditors: Herb Miller and Cynthia Woolever –
October 2013 – Volume 21, Number 10
Copyright © 2013 by Cynthia Woolever

Growth or Decline? 10 Key Questions about Worship Attendance
Three out of four congregations attract the same number of or even fewer worshipers than they did five years ago. Review the following questions to determine if your church could take steps to attract and retain more newcomers.

1. Does your newcomer rate exceed your departure rate? Churches lose members each year—through death, transfers to other churches, members moving out of town, or people becoming less active participants. To maintain a stable and active membership, churches must offset any losses by welcoming new members. The average congregation loses 7 percent of its members each year. Therefore, for every 100 members, a church must add 7 newcomers annually for the church to remain the same size.

2. In any given year, what percent of your worshipers are visiting for the first time? On average, 2 percent of attendees in any given worship service are attending that congregation for the first time. Without first-time visitors, congregations shrink in membership over time.

3. What prompts someone to visit your congregation for the first time? Half of new members say they found out about the church they eventually joined because someone they knew mentioned the church or invited them to attend worship. More new members in conservative Protestant churches—two out of three—say they visited a church for the first time because of this personal invitation.
One out of four first-time visitors said they decided to attend services because they noticed the church building when they passed by. A small number—one in ten—said they were actively looking for a church associated with a particular denomination.1
What other factors increase the number of first-time visitors? Visible signage informs potential visitors about the kind of congregation it is and when services are held. Additional signage should designate directions if the church is set away from major
roads, building entrances, parking, the nursery, and other important areas of the church. Adequate sign-age signals to visitors that you are expecting them.
Additionally, an increasing number of people now “see” your church for the first time through the church’s website. Your website should be designed to meet the needs of both visitors and current members. On the home page, give visitors the essential information they need—the times of worship services, the church’s street address, a map showing the location, and how to contact the pastor and other church staff. Don’t make your potential first-time worshipers click through your site searching for basic information.2

4. What percent of your first-time visitors return for a second time, and again and again, until they become members? About one in three new members say they visited one other congregation before attending their current church for the first time. An equal percentage visited two or more churches before attending the present one. On aver-age, congregations can expect about 10 percent of their first-time visitors to become future members.
In a few fast-growing churches, as high as 30 per-cent of first-time visitors eventually join. Increasing both the number of first-time visitors and the per-cent that return is essential.

5. Why do first-time visitors decide to return? Research shows that newcomers name three factors that most impressed them as worship visitors and made them want to come back again: the friendliness of the people (40% mentioned it), the overall worship experience (36% gave this reason), and the quality of the sermon or homily (34% said this played a role in their decision to return).
Visitors often report that they were only greeted by the official greeters posted at the door and the pastor as they exited. Divide the sanctuary seating area into sections and station additional undercover greeters to look for visitors. If a fellowship time or study group follows services, ask the pew greeters to invite visitors to go with them. Having someone show the way is another demonstration of generous hospitality.

6. How does your church follow up with first-time worship visitors? Surprisingly, one in three new members said they were not contacted after their first visit to the church. Asking visitors to complete a visitor card is the first step in gaining the information for a later contact. Design a strategy that involves multiple methods (letters, postcards, emails, phone calls, or personal visits) based on the number of times some-one has visited. A first-time worship visitor would receive a different kind of follow-up than on subsequent visits.

7. What percent of your attendees are between 18 to 29 years of age? The aging profile of current members strikes many young people when they visit for the first time. That is because the average worshiper is 54 years old, 10 years older than the average American. Often the largest age group among attendees is worshipers over 65 years of age. In the average congregation, one in three worshipers is 65 years of age or older. Attracting 18 to 29 year-old visitors is not impossible. Congregations with a high concentration of emerging adults offer multiple points of entry into the life of the congregation such as non-traditional worship times and formats, study groups and age-specific adult education, opportunities to volunteer in community service, and social gatherings. An expert on best practices for young adult ministry argues that congregations should pay more attention to the church’s identity, not less.3 Even congregations
with small numbers of emerging adults can provide opportunities for worship leadership and ministry in the church or community.

8. What percent of your current attendees are not yet members? On average, one in ten worshipers regularly participate in a congregation but are not yet members. Most of these nonmembers are not involved in any church programs or activities beyond attending worship services. Nonmembers tend to be younger than 45 years of age. How does your church construct a bridge that helps attendees cross over into membership? Are new-member or adult programs aimed at explaining tenets of the faith and a call to discipleship?

9. How is your congregation known in the community? If a dozen random people in your area were approached and asked, “What do you know about [fill in the name of your church]? How many would say they have never heard of it or that they know nothing? Every community is different and every congregation has the opportunity for unique ministry that fits their location such as quality children’s ministry or school-age programs, senior services, outstanding music or promotion of the arts, or advocacy for marginalized groups of people. Identify and build on your congregation’s distinctive strengths to better serve God and others.

10. Do the worship services help people connect to God? Long-time members grow accustomed to the liturgy, music, and pace and find meaning in the familiar. Ask the last 10 people who joined the church how they experienced the services when they first began attending. Also contact recent visitors and ask them about their reactions to the service. Listen carefully to these reflections and share them with worship leaders. Newcomers often provide good insights into the ways services can be more effective in meeting attendees’ spiritual needs.
1. Statistics in this issue come from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey (
2. See the free download, Church Effectiveness Nuggets: Vol-ume 8, How to Attract First-Time Worship Visitors (
3. J. Roberto and M. Hayes, “Best Practices in Young Adult Faith Formation,” Lifelong Faith Associates (2007).
Copyright © 2013 by Cynthia Woolever