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Faith Stories

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Witness Through Service

by Caroline Sheaffer

Reprinted from Anastasis, Summer 2019 issue


After I read that the scriptural theme for this edition is on Mary and Martha [the author is referring to the theme for the magazine issue in which this piece was originally published], it took me about three seconds to decide whom my story would be based upon. Ida Sponsler is one of St. Stephen’s Marys. Her unwavering faith guides her every move making her a nonjudgmental listener.  When someone has a challenge or problem to share with her, Ida asks if the person has prayed about it. She knows that will help. “I try not to be overly assertive with family members who disagree with me,” she says, “but instead be available to listen.”


Ida credits reading daily both her Bible and the small devotional booklet provided by our Educational Ministry program as keeping her grounded in her faith.  Read more

Life is Hard But God Has Got My Back

by Lela Ewell

Reprinted from Anastasis, Winter 2019 issue


Life is hard. 


My parents were Christians. We had to get up every Sunday morning and go to Sunday school and church. We had to go to confirmation class and, eventually, be confirmed. After that, our religious instruction at home was complete. We were no longer obligated to go to church (though we were supposed to want to do so). 


My parents were alcoholics, which brought with it a bushelful of other realizations: family holidays would usually end up in a physical altercation between the parental units; dinner often got thrown to the floor in a fit of anger, so the dog(s) could feast; cigarette butts were put out on the dishes that sat around for days on end; at a very young age, you learn your family is different, so you didn’t have friends for fear that they would want to come to your house to play; you rely on your older siblings for guidance, comfort, and love - who, by the way, took very good care of you; and you grow up ... dysfunctional. Read More

Getting to Know Sunday Morning’s Jen Tech

by Karen Hendricks

Reprinted from Anastasis, Summer 2020 issue


If you’ve been attending St. Stephen’s virtual church services on Zoom, chances are you know who “Jen Tech” is. Pastor Matthew’s tech-savvy neighbor has helped services run smoothly since the pandemic hit. But many of you don’t know her real name, beyond “Jen,” or other details—until now.


Her actual name is Jen Clements, and she’s lived in Carlisle with her husband Paul for 15 years—next-door to the Best family.


“We loved the idea of having neighbors for our kids to grow up with, and having that vision happen, is pretty special,” Jen says. “They are like family—our family memories are wrapped up together.”


The two families—with seven children between them—have carpooled and relied on each other for all types of support through the years, so when the pandemic hit and Pastor Matthew mentioned that he was trying to find a solution for online worship, Jen didn’t hesitate. She offered her assistance with Zoom, since she’d been teaching via the platform for several years. Read More


There’s No Place Like Home

by Neal Warfield

Reprinted from Anastasis, Fall 2020 issue


There is no place like home.


It is common to say that someone thrown into a difficult situation is being baptized by fire. Such has been my life living with innate depression. Some of the congregation may remember me as a shy and bashful teen and I remember one comment about me, “still waters run deep.” My waters were very still and very deep! 


Self-doubt and over-self-examination were what made my waters still and were the start of my very painful journey into adulthood. I had mistakenly taken the view that, like Job, God was putting me to the test or, like Luther, that no matter what I did I could not be right with God.  Failed marriages, abusive relationships, a bipolar child, death of a parent and death of a loved one … these were things that just plummeted me to the lowest depths of despair. Read More

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