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Lent, All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner, “Pub Theology” with Pastor Chris, Ash Wednesday & Lenten Schedule, Prayer List, The Parish Paper.




“What are you going to give up for Lent?”  This is a question we hear quite often before the season of Lent begins.  A better question, however, would be, “What do we want to do during Lent?”  Basically, we want to do during Lent what we want to do all year, only more so.  We want to grow in our relationship with God.  We want to grow closer to Jesus.

And how do we go about doing that?  Well, how do we improve our relationship with anyone?  We spend more time with them.  As we listen to them we understand them better and love them more.  The same thing is true for our relationship with God.

So, a question we can ask ourselves during Lent is, “What prevents me from spending more time with Jesus?  What prevents me from hearing him?”   When we have an answer to that question we have an answer to the question, “What should I ‘give up’ for Lent?”  Think about it.  Is there an activity (i.e. TV, a hobby, the Internet) that you engage in that consumes your time and attention so much that you have “no time” for prayer and Bible reading?  Is there an emotion or attitude in your heart (like resentment or unforgivingness) that shouts so loud in your ear that you can’t hear Jesus gently calling you to rest in him?

These are things we don’t have the power to “fix” on our own.  So let’s ask Jesus to help us identify something he wants to help us work on this Lent.  Let’s let our mighty but gentle Lord be our strength, our perseverance, our love, through our Lenten journey. Let’s get closer to Jesus.


All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti Dinner

Free-Will Offering will be taken.  Suggested Donation:  Adults $5.00, Children $2.00

All proceeds will go to the St. Stephens Scholarship Fund

Includes beverage & dessert


Sunday, March 9, 2014

  5:00 – 7:00 PM

  No Reservations Needed


St. Stephens Lutheran Church

3145 Park Ave.

So. Plainfield, NJ 07080

(908) 757-4474


“Pub Theology” with Pastor Chris

Where:  Flanagans, 2501 Plainfield Ave., So. Plainfield

When:  Tuesday, March 25, 2014 – 8:00-9:00 PM

Topic:  What do the Sacraments have to do with Mission?


This is an informal gathering for fellowship, refreshment and discussion. 

It’s open to the public, so bring your friends and neighbors.


Ash Wednesday


Wednesday, March 5, 2014


7:30 PM   Worship



Wednesday Lenten Soup Suppers

Observe Lent this year by attending our

Wednesday Soup Suppers followed by Vespers.

Five Wednesdays,

March 12, March 19, March 26,

April 2 and April 9, at 6:00 PM

followed by a short Vesper service at 7:15 PM

If you can provide soup, salad, bread,

beverage or dessert for any of the suppers,

 a sign-up sheet is available

in the church entryway.


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 Central African Republic, South Sudan,  Syria, Russia.


We pray for the people in the Philippines affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.


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



Joe & Joy Billich

Jesse Cortese

Agnes Czarnecki

Steven Goetz

Helen Henne

Miriam Mentzell

Len Merlo

Vera Millet

Nancy Moore

Jim Moore

Dave Rapp

Eric Stives


Jim Albert, brother of John Albert

Tom Badolato, friend of Michele Billich

Holly Bowen, friend of Sharon Gianneschi

Marvin Braddy, friend of Jean & Charles Mingle

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

Marilyn Fortier, friend of Eloise Newton

Tim Fraenza, friend of Tom Baker

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

Dolores & Eugene Neuzil, parents of Bonnie Lombardo

Velma Nietman, mother of Linda Nietman

Janine Olestad-Smith

Michele O’Toole, friend of Pat Benward

Milton Pearson, brother-in-law of Jean Mingle

Natalie Romeo, friend of Marylou Johnson

Cindy Rutler, friend of Barbara Cibak

George P. Ryan, friend of Richard Newton

Julie Sulu, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

Cindy Urban, former foster daughter of Vera Millett

Al & Sharon Vastano, uncle & aunt of Melissa Cortese

Beth Williscroft, friend of Agnes Czarnecki

David, friend of Barbara Pallister









The family of Alan Moore

The family of Kevin Cox

The family of Jim Christ



For special concerns



We give thanks, O God…


For the life and witness of the faithful departed


Kevin Cox

Jim Christ

Alan Moore, husband of Nancy Moore, father of Nancy Bullard, Jim Moore, and Kristy Forys





Coeditors: Herb Miller and Cynthia Woolever –
March 2014 – Volume 22, Number 3
Copyright © 2014 by Cynthia Woolever

When Less Is More: The Consequences of Clergy Turnover
James served on the staff of two large churches be-fore accepting a call as a solo pastor for a small rural congregation. After three years, he wonders if his leadership has made a difference. Gloria accepted a call to lead an urban congregation immediately after seminary. After a decade in ministry there, she wonders if she is still the best leader for the church. Jeremy heard from his seminary mentor that a wonderful church, served for twenty-five years by an esteemed pastor who has announced his retirement, is seeking a new pastor. Should he apply?

Pastoral change is a part of every congregation’s life. Pastors serve a congregation about five years before leaving for another call. Protestant pastors currently in ministry have served, on average, in three or four church positions. Pastors tend to stay longer in any particular ministry position the longer they are in ministry because frequent job changes tend to occur in the earlier years of ministry service.

In addition to the individual circumstances of each church, the amount of time a pastor remains in any single position varies greatly by their denominational affiliation, theological training, and career stage. However, research conducted over an eight-year period tracked a sample of congregations to explore how a change in pastoral leadership affected those churches.1 What did the study reveal?

About half of the congregations experienced a pastoral transition. Conservative Protestant churches were the least likely to experience a pastor turnover; only 29 percent of these churches welcomed a new senior or solo pastor between 2001 and 2008. Similarly, relatively few Catholic parishes experienced priest turn- over, with only 36 percent of these parishes welcoming a different senior pastor. The biggest clergy turn- over occurred among mainline Protestant churches. Two-thirds of these churches received a new senior or solo pastor during those eight years.

Church Conflict Makes a Difference
Clergy often leave congregations when conflict, resistance to change, and diminished ministry opportunities discourage them. One in four churches with different pastors in 2008 than in 2001 said that the church had experienced major conflict, leading a pastor or minister to leave.

What is the conflict about? One out of three pas-tors reported leadership style as a source of the church conflict. But other disagreements erupted into conflict around church finances, changes in worship services, or renovating or building new facilities.

Even more serious is major conflict that leads to a church split. One in ten pastoral leaders serving their congregation since 2001 reported that one out-come had been the departure of members to form a new church.

Negative Consequences of Clergy Turnover?
Many mainline Protestant churches that went through a pastoral transition also declined in size. Mainline Protestant churches that lost their 2001 pastor also experienced a loss in worship attendance between 2001 and 2008. And the majority of churches (seven out of ten) with different pastors in 2008 reported some decline in worship attendance. Those mainline Protestant churches that retained
their pastor reported almost no change in worship attendance. Only half of churches with the same pas-tor reported any decline in worship attendance.

The relationship between clergy turnover and growth is less clear in conservative Protestant churches. Conservative Protestant churches that lost their 2001 pastor actually increased their worship attendance by an average of almost 18 attendees. Those conservative Protestant congregations that retained their pastor declined slightly in size.

Do pastoral turnovers create numerical decline? It’s complicated. Many factors play a role in decreasing or increasing worship attendance and growing church vitality. Sometimes numerical decline even precedes the pastor’s departure. Any picture of clergy turnover does not capture the quality of pastoral leadership. The consequences for the congregation are quite different when an effective leader departs versus when an ineffective pastor leaves for a new call.

Positive Consequences of Clergy Turnover?
Research indicates that longer tenures give pastors more time to build relationships, lead through a period of change, and resolve long-standing conflict. Further, a new pastor can take several years to reinvigorate members’ energy and investment in congregational life after such a transition.

New pastors are more likely to lead effectively if they listen to members’ responses to the following:

 What issues and questions dominate the discussions at governing board meetings?
 What are the most important things that happened in the congregation in the past several years?
 What are some of the best things happening in the congregation right now?
 What are some of your hopes and dreams for the congregation over the next five years?

The first few years of a new pastorate set the stage for long-term effectiveness. In smaller churches especially, new pastors must first earn the trust of members. Visiting and building relationships helps the new pastor identify and affirm the gifts and talents in the congregation. In larger congregations, lay leaders want to see if the new pastor is a proactive leader who is willing to take the initiative or a more reactive leader who responds to others’ initiative.

New ministers invariably inherit staff currently employed by the congregation. Lay leadership smooth the way when they quietly inform existing staff members that the new pastor will be given the
authority to build a new staff team and those terminations may be made by the new pastor. In this way, lay leadership and not the new pastor introduce the idea that staff changes may be necessary.

Advice to new pastors: Proceed with caution—only so much can be accomplished in the first year. It is enough to start a process where members begin to grasp a new vision for the future and become increasingly aware of new possibilities.2

Long Pastorates as More Chapters
If a new pastor negotiates the first year or chapter with an interim understanding—as a transitional leader between the past and the future, the stage is set for the next successful chapter. Long pastorates are actually a series of terms or chapters. Change necessitates that the current contract between the pastor and the congregation must be renegotiated. A new contract calls for retraining lay leaders, recruiting leaders with different skills, employing a new leadership team, and perhaps even revising existing rules. Likewise, pastors must reassess their role, leadership style, and ability to recreate them-selves for the new congregation forming before them. Pastors who grasp the concept of chapters are better equipped to serve beyond the first or second term, which lasts between five and ten years.

In year three, James is still in his first term as pas-tor of the small rural church. Absent any major con-flict, after another two or three years, he can discern whether his gifts and skills are right for the congrega-tion’s next chapter. Gloria, in year ten, has clearly finished a first term. Her discernment will center on whether her call to the congregation is going to be a long-term pastorate. If Jeremy is going to seriously consider a new call, his job is to ask questions to learn about the congregation’s focus and commit-ments. Together he and the lay leadership can dis-cern if his gifts are likely to bear fruit for the church’s next chapter.

In every chapter of ministry, the goal is to flourish. Lillian Daniel, a United Church of Christ pastor cap-tures the joy of ministry: “I do love being a minister. I love the agility it calls forth in me and the chaos that only Jesus could organize into a calling.”3
1. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey, 2001–2008 (
2. Material drawn from Wisdom from Lyle E. Schaller, edited by Warren Bird (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2012).
3. “Minute Fifty Four,” What is Good Ministry? (www.pulpitand
Copyright © 2014 by Cynthia Woolever