Very probably a Hellenistic Jew, Stephen was one of the “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3), who were chosen by the apostles to relieve them of the administrative burden of “serving tables and caring for the widows.” By this appointment to assist the apostles, Stephen, the first named of those the New Testament calls “The Seven,” became the first to do what the Church traditionally considers to be the work and ministry of a deacon.
We have just returned from ten days in Ireland, split between Dublin, Belfast and Londonderry. It was interesting to me in part because I had been there in 1977 in the midst of the Troubles. In those days, I was working for Jews for Jesus. The story was that a Catholic bishop, asked when there would be peace in Northern Ireland, replied that it would happen when the Jews came preaching Christ. Well, they came, and I was driving the van for one of the music groups.
The season for giving is upon us! In this joyful time of abundance and celebration, All Saints’ has not forgotten those who are most vulnerable and in need: children in our community. While many in our society are focused on Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales, and upcoming holiday festivities, we at All Saints’ are also keeping those who have the least in our thoughts and prayers. In the spirit of giving, we have launched our annual toy drive to collect new toys for local children to make their Christmas a warm and joyful one.
Samuel Seabury, the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church, was born in Groton, Connecticut, November 30, 1729. After ordination in England in 1753, he was assigned, as a missionary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, to Christ Church, New Brunswick, New Jersey. In 1757, he became rector of Grace Church, Jamaica, Long Island, and in 1766 rector of St. Peter’s, Westchester County. During the American Revolution, he remained loyal to the British crown, and served as a chaplain in the British army.
The exciting news this month is the ordination of Jeffrey Boyce, our deacon. Technically, he’s been our “deacon candidate” since he started here, but now we can drop the descriptor. As authorized by the Bishop, he’s been fulfilling the diaconal role all along. Accordingly, nothing much will change on Sunday mornings, except as an ordained deacon he will wear the dalmatic and stole that comes with the order.
At All Saints’, our congregation has opened their hearts and launched a drive to collect new coats to keep local children warm this winter. The result has been overwhelming: a wagon placed in the church was overflowing with jackets for boys and girls, ages 5 to 12. We will be bringing these coats to Larchmont Elementary, where they will be distributed to needy families.
It’s been a good month at All Saints’. We’re developing a very effective ministry with the homeless community, particularly with the Veterans’ Camp at 82nd and Pacific Highway. Several of you have helped provide food for them which we’re continuing to do. Jeffrey reports that 20 people from that Camp now have permanent housing which is a great achievement. It’s working, and we have had a hand in it.
All Saints’ believes in bringing comfort and love to those who need it most, in the example set for us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We are privileged to have Deacon Jeffrey Boyce in our church, who is active in the Bishop’s Homeless Task Force. Jeffrey works closely with homeless advocacy groups and commissions from the local to state level, and is pivotal to All Saints’ mission of compassion and hospitality to the most vulnerable in our community.