St. Stephen’s anniversary service

SCHUTT – An important milestone was recently reached calling for a reason to celebrate in the church community.

On September 23, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Schutt held an anniversary service to commemorate turning 125 years old. The special service, filled with worship and musical praise, was a time for those gathered to reflect on and give thanks for the past, as well as look ahead with faith and hope.
The celebration started with a processional hymn Over the Waves. Crucifer Jesse Lea Weichenthal led the procession, carrying a cross, followed by Leslie Hunt on bagpipes, Pastor Adam and the St. Stephen’s choir, all dressed in colourful attire.
With down to earth charm, Pastor Adam Snook said it was an honour to welcome everyone to the great service, whether they were members or just saw all the parked vehicles and wondered what was going on.
Snook illustrated the significance of the occasion by recalling a childhood memory. As a child, Snook said his brother told his grandma that she was old, to which she responded, it took a lot of work to get her wrinkles to get there.Similarly, he said it took a lot of work to get here, referring to 125 years thus far.

“God has indeed been part of this community for so many years, filling it with God’s grace and love and we give thanks for that today, we celebrate that and we look with hope to the future that God surely has in store for us and it’s going to be wonderful,” Snook said.
He also welcomed those in attendance from St. Paul’s in Denbigh, who has been a long-time partner with the congregation and its parish, along with St. Stephen’s sister congregation, Christ Lutheran in Maynooth.
When it came time for the children to come up to the front Pastor Snook asked them who they thought knew the most about the church. The children were asked to go find someone in the congregation to help them with some questions about the history of the church.
Through the back and forth dialogue everyone learned some interesting facts. For instance the pews, the altar and the pulpit came from Kitchener into Wilno by train, and were then transported by horse and buggy to Schutt. St. Stephen’s began as a small church on the property of today’s St. Stephen’s Lutheran cemetery on Moccasin Road in Schutt. Also, the current church building, with the exception of the addition built on in the nineteen-seventies, is 99 years old.
After gospel readings, special guest Bishop Michael Pryse of Kitchener preached his sermon, noting that the anniversary celebration was a “biggie.” Pryse reflected on how many things could be counted over such an extensive period of time like church events, meetings, funerals and weddings.
He asked his audience to consider those things that cannot be counted. For instance, he wondered how many acts of service and mercy have been done in the community because of the ministry of the congregation.
“It really does boggle your mind and it humbles the spirit. The Lord truly has done great things for us,” Pryse said.
He added the more he witnessed the life of St. Stephen’s and churches like it, the more excited and hopeful he was for the future of the church, and the more he saw signs of its members becoming more faithful partners with God fulfilling His mission on earth.
According to Pryse, our families provide us with a sense of place and to remind us of who we are. Similarly, in our church family, one of the essential tasks of our families at church is to remind us who we are.
“It’s a community in which you have laughed, cried, quarrelled and made up, in which you have embraced and hoped and dreamed. To nurture and sustain the baptized, and remind us through the grace of God we actually are salt of the earth, a light to the world,” Pryse said.
He concluded by complementing St. Stephen’s church on its beauty, referring to the structure itself and those who have strived to be God’s people, sharing His love for 125 years. He suggested to his listeners that as such they are always under construction.
“I hope that this party day might be an opportunity for all of us to recommit to the work of discipleship and that we would believe with all our hearts that we are integral partners in helping to fulfill God’s birthday wish,” Pryse said.
Prayer and joyful hymns followed including the choir singing Century and a Quarter Old. Everyone was invited to partake in Holy Communion which was accompanied by more songs. The service concluded with an anniversary blessing and a postlude with Leslie Hunt playing bagpipes as parishioners filed out of the sanctuary.
All were welcome to enjoy a buffet-style lunch downstairs, and a piece of anniversary cake. The basement was filled to overflowing as folks shared in the time of fellowship and celebration.
The day was possible due in large part to the efforts of folks who started planning in advance.

Story continues in the September 26, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.