Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting to know ... Ted Steinwender

An interview with Ted Steinwender, St Thomas' vestry member
By Mary Hochadel

I met with Ted to talk about his spiritual journey.
His early childhood experience with Church is from his youth in North Benton Ohio, a farming community in Northeast Ohio. He remembers being in the youth choir and recalls a picture of him in his robe. Ted’s fraternal Grandmother was a devout Christian and schooled him and his sister in the Christian faith while living with the family.
He spoke of how his father had bad feelings about the church. Ted was surprised to learn after his father grew much older how well he knew the bible. He had literally memorized it and could quote chapter and verse, especially when he was upset or wanted to make a strong point.
Ted’s grandparents were immigrants from Germany. His grandfather had served in the Prussian Cavalry for three years and later became a merchant sailor and on his third crossing to the United States he stayed. None of the grandfather’s family ever immigrated to the US.
He told how his grandmother had related stories of the hardships they had suffered in Germany that drove their decision to come to the US. One of the more interesting points was their decision to leave the Catholic Faith. They were living in the shadow of the Catholic Church and City.

Teds Mother and Father were members of the Presbyterian Church in North Benton, and while he attended as often as his parents could go, he remembers attendance being intermittent, as the family farm demanded daily effort from the family.Later, the family sold the farm and relocated to Florida, where they eventually joined the Presbyterian Church in Deland, Florida.
Ted enlisted in the Navy after high school and after his discharge, he went to college. During that time, Ted didn’t attend church.

After graduating from college, Ted relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. There he met his wife, Vicky and they were married at the Cathedral of St. Phillip where they were both members.

In 1971, Ted and Vicky moved to Sarasota, Florida, where they became members of the Church of the Redeemer. Both of their daughters were baptized in this church. After a number of relocations due to work, Ted and Vicky settled in St. Petersburg and joined St. Thomas. Their daughters attended Sunday school here.
Ted said he had a real awakening when his youngest daughter went to an evangelical church camp in Colorado and she came back a markedly changed person. She now has a daughter (aged 2) and a son (aged 1) she and her Husband are raising them in the church and she is a very devout young woman resembling her Great-grandmother from Germany.
Teds oldest daughter has a daughter named Sara (age 8) and a son (age 11). They had not been active church going members. When Ted’s daughter asked what he would like to have for Father’s Day, he asked for her children to be baptized. For a while no action was taken, but after Granddaughter Sara noted her younger cousin had been baptized at 1 year old, she asked, “Why haven’t I been baptized? When can I be baptized?” That year, Father Chris and Father John baptized both of the Children here at St. Thomas
I was very inspired by this story, for it is said, “A little child shall lead them”.

Submitted by Mary Hochadel

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Women of the Word, May 12

Today, with Rev.Lisa Hamilton leading us, we explore the first chapter of Exodus which we are encouraged to look at as a "memory book," and in so doing to give it some "redactive" thinking. (I didn't know either. Webster: "Redact: 1. To write out or draw up; frame. 2. To arrange in proper form for publication.") Consider what the editors were thinking. Why did they include this or that," thoughts this writer has often had.

Some people think of Moses as an analogy to Israel and its struggles and trials for birth and existence. This is just one of many such symbols in the book of Exodus.

We are urged to notice the importance of women's activities in the coming chapters.

Joseph and his generation have long since died and the Israelites, still in Egypt, have been fruitful and industrious, even though they are treated miserably, given the hardest work to do and repressed by the Egyptians. The Egyptians began to hate them, for they just couldn't keep them down. Pharoah got nervous. What could he do? Aha! He could kill off the baby boys! He urges the midwives to kill the boy babies of the Hebrew women as soon as they see them on the birthstool. (There ensued a long discussion on birthstools.)

But the midwives were God-fearing women and did not obey Pharoah. Observant fellow that he was, he could not help but notice that baby boys continued to survive. He quizzed the midwives, who lied and told him that Hebrew women were stronger that Egyptian women due to all their hard work, that they had their babies fast before the midwives could get there.

Pharoah's Plan B: "Throw all the boy babies into the Nile."

So let's see how that works out.

Moving into Chapter 2, we learn that a Levite man married a Levite woman who born a fine son and she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she put him into a papyrus basket plastered with bitumen and pitch and tucked it into the reeds along the river.

An aside here: pitch and bitumen are mentioned only one other time in the Bible, and that is in the building of Noah's ark, so there is another analogy here. "Ark " and "basket" and the same word in Hebrew.

It so happened that Pharoah's daughter was bathing in the river and saw the basket. She sent one of her handmaidens to get it, and took pity on the crying baby in it. She realized it must be one of the Hebrew's babies. The baby's sister, who had been standing by watching the whole procedure, asked the Pharoah's daughter if she should get somene to nurse the baby, and whom did she get but the baby's own mother, who then was paid by Pharoah's daughter for nursing her own child. Such a deal.

The boy grew and Pharoah's daughter, forever nameless herself, named him Moses, meaning "He who draws out," because she drew him out of the water. Another symbol here: Moses drew the Israelites out of Egypt."

Submitted by Betty Jean Miller

Friday, May 13, 2011

Men’s Bible Study: Forth Sunday of Easter

Book of Acts 2: 42-47 “Day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”

A common theme in Acts is to support and defend Paul’s conversion of Gentiles. The commentary by Dummelow points out the possibility that Luke wrote Acts as a formal defense for Paul’s trial. It is written in the purest form of Attic Greek, the best of the best Greek in the New Testament. Acts chronicles the history and actions following the Resurrection and Ascension. In this reading we find the believers (new and old Disciples) following the apostles teachings, breaking and sharing bread, and praying. The small but very faithful group is in awe of the many powerful things that the Apostles accomplished. The revolutionary thing here was that this group held together, in spite of being under the watchful eye of the temple and Roman power structures. They prospered and sold their personal belongings to benefit those in need (widows and orphans). In our gathering we noted that this communal sharing was something very different from the social patterns of that day as well as in our current times. It requires great faith and courage to make such commitments.

First Peter 2: 19-25 “For you were astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

This epistle responds to suffering in the name of Jesus Christ. The political context that brought suffering forward was much to do about the burning of Rome in 64 AD. Nero blamed the Christians for the fire; he executed many Christians to stifle public unrest. It took great faith and courage to stand up for Jesus at this time. The reading encourages the people to stand fast, be brave, and provides the prime example of Jesus as the model for enduring and accepting suffering. In the final verse we get the metaphor of the sheep and shepherd. In those times people where very aware of the relationships of shepherd and sheep, not so much today. My knowledge of shepherds comes from time in Army, in Dallau, Germany; where I spent the better time of my enlistment; a shepherd and his flock kept the grass in check along the perimeter of our missile site. It was very impressive to see the sheep obey and respond to shepherd’s special commands (verbal and body language). At another time, on vacation in New Zealand, we saw modern-day-shepherds; they rode in land rovers and helicopters with huge herds of sheep. The other aspect not common to biblical times was the extensive use of dogs to herd the sheep in New Zealand.

Psalm 23: Much to do about Shepherds and sheep. “Though I walk through the valley of death, I shall fear no evil.”

Gospel of John 10: 1-10: The image (ALLEGORY) of the Good Shepherd; “we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.”

This is one of the best known and extremely popular images of Jesus as a Shepherd guarding and protecting his fold from evil. Many symbolisms are used to explain some things that were unclear to the community. Thieves and bandits are the Pharisees who unjustly did not care for the blind man (see parable in John 9). Thieves and bandits is also a rebuke to false prophets and modern day evangelists that are not true too Christ. Christ is the owner of flock and all of those that aspire to be a shepherd must enter through the gate (Christ). In the day of Jesus, each village would have a large sheep fold and all of the sheep spent the night hours in the fold with a gate keeper (one of the shepherds) guarding the single access door. At dawn, the shepherds returned to the gate keeper and called out their sheep to the surrounding fields to graze. The true pastor knows every member of his flock. The good shepherd is common to scripture; these were pastoral societies of sheep and goat herders, hence, “Good Shepherd” (GS) was a meaningful metaphor to describe a good leader; reference to GS is found in Psalms 23, 77, 80, 95, 100, Isaiah 40, Ezekiel 34, Jeremiah 23. In some ways Moses was the first true Shepherd of Israel.

Our images of a shepherd of the time of Jesus should include a person of self reliance, willing to spend hours in lousy weather, protecting the sheep (not the brightest animals on the planet), dealing with wolves, foxes, birds of prey, and roving bandits. The pay was not great, and of course the Roman’s taxed the wool that was the principal product.

The last verse is a great summation of the Gospel lesson:

“Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Submitted by Walt Japp

Thursday, May 5, 2011


On Wednesday, April 20, the children participated in a "kid-friendly" Passover Seder meal. They learned the history of the Passover and listened to stories about the meaning of each food that is eaten during the Seder meal. Best of all, they got to eat on the floor!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Palm Sunday, April 17

Palm Sunday was celebrated with a visit from The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith and his wife, Mary Ellen.  It was a beautiful morning for beginning the service in the Curry Garden with the blessing of the Palms.  In addition to celebrating Palm Sunday, we gathered to welcome new members to the Episcopal faith as they were Confirmed, Re-Confirmed or Received. After the service, all returned to the Curry Garden for a delightful reception.
Georgia's link to additional photos:
Submitted by Georgia Mattern

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Women of the Word, April 28

Beignets and the Bible

While munching on Marty Hallas' homemade beignets, we begin with the Book of Exodus.
Remembering the Jews were strangers in "a strange land (Egypt)", they realized that they really messed up but that God is good. In Genesis, we reviewed that this is the ancient story which is the foundation of the founding of the Tribe.
In Exodus, we will learn how the Jews became a "broader" people. At that time, there was no separation of religion and state. Exodus is not a book of names. It rarely mentions places either.  It is basically a theological history of how the Jews became the people of God. It is also not a heroic epic. There are no palaces mentioned.
The first fifteen chapters is about Moses, Pharoah, key battles and biographies of a few other people.
Then comes the wandering of the Jews in the desert for forty years. The Ten Commandments were delivered to Moses and many other laws came into being.
The Tabernacle was built using very specific details (a blueprint).  This book is not a complete history of the Jewish people. It does introduce an important concept:
This concept can be described as: God is the hero. God heard, God saw and God rescued.
Moses is seen as the "mirror image" of Joseph. Moses is only mentioned in two books of the Bible but he is mentioned 502 times in the Koran. Moses is one of the prophets. The Israelites behave like anti-heros. They whine and are unworthy of being set free. But, God still saved them.  It took a long time for the Jews to psychologically build a nation for themselves.

We will see in Exodus that God is working actively in the lives of the Jews. He is not apart but intimately involved. God will be seen, a lot, acting in nature i.e. the plague. He definitely makes Himself known.
The Ten Commandments are written and given to the Jews. They are so basic and absolute.  There is no punishment because no one is expected to ever break them!
This concludes our lecture today.
Submitted by Vicky Steinwender