Think. Serve. Worship. Belong.

Ph: (817)  927-8411 • 2700 McPherson Ave, Fort Worth

Building Improvements, Vacation Bible School, and More!

This last week has been hopping at St. Stephen. Once again there are things going on in every part of the church, not just the sanctuary building and grounds! The windows are being installed throughout the education building, starting with the casement windows and those in the Parish Hall and kitchen. Why there? Because Beth wanted to use Parish Hall and the kitchen for Vacation Bible School, and they’re EVERYWHERE this week. We have some 70 kids participating, including huge turnout from our teens and some returning college students to serve as shepherds. The energy and excitement in the building are tangible.

They aren’t just only in the Ed building, either. They are on the grounds: I know it seems strange to have a fenced-in area on the front lawn, but that serves as the playground for our VBS kids so that they are kept safe from any hazards created in the lawn while the windows are repaired.

But not only that: they’re in the sanctuary building. They’re watching movies and napping in the Narthex, but they are also in OUR COMPLETELY NEW CLASSROOMS IN THE SANCTUARY UPPER BASEMENT. Eduardo Calderon, our intrepid Property Committee chair, saw to it that insurance covered a build-out of classrooms in the basement since we still cannot use classroom space upstairs for VBS. We now have two completely new full-size classrooms in the sanctuary building. After decades, we will be able to use the downstairs as well as the sanctuary itself for ministry purposes.

In the meantime, Anne Barrett and I are growing accustomed to a great deal more light in our offices than we’ve had in a long time. Workers completely replaced the french windows in my office, and likewise the casement windows in Anne’s space. There’s a new cheeriness and brightness that is lifting up everyone’s spirits.

There’s a lot coming up in the next few months. Below is information about our July 2nd service and patriotic organ concert with our good friend, Michael Britt; and our exciting upcoming intergenerational all-church retreat to Mo Ranch, with program led by your staff, me, Beth, and Mitchell. The theme will be “Rising from the Ruins” and we’ll use the recovery from the vandalism as a jumping-off point to talk about how God enables all of us and each of us to rise up when things get us down. The program will include all ages, and we have 20 hotel-like rooms reserved that can hold up to four people, so we really hope you’ll bring the entire family. This is a good way to get to know your fellow church members, especially the many who’ve joined us fairly recently and who may not know other members of the church as well.

On July 4th, Independence Day, Room in the Inn celebrates its Tenth Year providing hospitality to the homeless in Fort Worth. I will be leading an orientation for those who want to learn more about this exciting and meaningful ministry on TUESDAY, JULY 18, AT 5:00 in the Parish Hall where
RITI meets. If you aren’t involved and would like to be, please join me! You can contact me at .

And keep your eyes open for the upcoming announcement of St. Stephen’s big “Topping Off” party, in which we have a “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the re-opening of the Education Building in late August. We plan to have special guests and anticipate news media will be present to see how, by the grace of God, we have recovered and have continued to pursue the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness!

New Summer 10:00 am Service to Start June 11



This Sunday, Pentecost, June 4, will be the last Sunday until mid-August that St. Stephen will have two Sunday morning services. Starting Trinity Sunday, June 11, we will initiate our new 10:00 am service, with Sunday School at 9:00 am.


The summer service will incorporate elements of both the 8:30 am and the 11:00 am services. The service will take place in the full sanctuary, like the 11:00 am service. Preaching and worship leadership will continue from the chancel.


The format will be the same as 8:30, with communion served from the table, which will be set in the crossing, and the servers standing in front of it.


The choir will continue to lead worship through our July 2 service, after which they will take a summer break and return mid-August. While they are serving, we will continue to enter and lead via procession and recession.


We will return to our regular worship schedule on August 20.


This will be a wonderful opportunity for people from both services to worship and fellowship with one another, as well as a chance to do things a bit differently, which always inspires creativity.

The Officers of St. Stephen Presbyterian Church

Ordination has existed since the earliest forms of the church as a way of distinguishing those who have particular unique callings from God to serve Christ in the church.In most denominations, only clergy–trained and authorized ministers of the Word and sacrament–are ordained. One of the most important hallmarks of a Presbyterian (USA) church, however, is the ordination of non-clergy to offices of church service. The PCUSA ordains clergy (teaching elders), elders (ruling elders) and deacons. Clergy and ruling elders serve coequally on the governing council of the church, called the Session. Deacons are called to ministries of care, service, and compassion. Trustees are not ordained, but manage many of the key business functions of the church.

Here is the list of St. Stephen officers, with their various responsibilities.

St. Stephen Session
Committee Assignments 2017

Rev. Dr. Fritz Ritsch, Moderator

Peggy Wadley, Clerk of Session

Budget, Finance & Stewardship
            Lars Berg (’18),chair; Roland Vogel (’17), Stewardship chair

Christian Education
            Peggy Kennedy (’17),chair; Robin Owhonda (’18)

Nancy Ricker (’17), chair

Congregational Nominating Committee
            Mark Thielman (’18), chair; Emily Endres (’19)

            Karla Campbell (’17) and Babs Sloan (’19), co-chairs

            John Walters (’18), chair

            Cynthia Walker (’18),chair; Vicki Johnson (’19)

            Marshall Ray (’18)chair; Nancy Ricker (’17)

            Paul Nyul (’19)chair; Jack Hunnicutt (’19)

            Mitch Murphy (’17), chair; Roger Davis (’19)

Board of Deacons 2017

Laurie Sandefur (’17) – Moderator

Kate Colquitt (’18)
Wanda Gill (’17)
Molly Hale (’17)
Jane Hawkins (’18)
Ted Kretchmar (’19)
Bill Larmour (’17)
Tom Leavens (’18)
Mike Tyson (’18)
Brian Wheeler (’19)

Board of Trustees 2017

Jerry Moody (’18), Chair and President of the Corporation
Gretchen Denny (’19)
Jim Hille (’17)
Greg Hinckley (’18)
Carolyn Kirkland (’17)
Adelaide Leavens (’17)
Elizabeth Murphy (’18)
Roger Rice (’19)
Bob Watson (’19)

St. Stephen Special Series presents Organist Michael Hey

Organist Michael Hey

Friday, May 19, 2017 – 7:30 PM

The St. Stephen Special Series, in conjunction with the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, is pleased to welcome organist Michael Hey to St. Stephen Presbyterian Church.
Described as “flashy” and “exciting” (The American Organist, 2012), concert organist Michael Hey has been increasingly visible on U.S. and international concert stages. In 2010, he made his New York City debut in Alice Tully Hall performing Handel’s Organ Concerto #1 with the Juilliard Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan. In 2014 has was featured as organ soloist in the New York City Ballet’s newly commissioned work Acheron. Set to the music of Francis Poulenc’s Organ Concerto, Michael’s performance at its premiere was “vividly played” (The New York Times). Michael has been invited to perform solo organ recitals at the Lincoln Center (New York), the Kimmel Center (Philadelphia), and the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.). Not exclusively a solo organist, Michael enjoys a widely varied career that includes collaborations with other musicians, solo piano recitals, vocal accompanying, and transcribing for organ and other instruments. He is now in the second season of performing with the Orchestra of St. Luke and the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Michael Hey graduated in 2014 from the five-year degree program at The Juilliard School where he received both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in organ performance under Paul Jacobs. Within one year of his graduation from Juilliard, he was appointed Assistant Director of Music and Organist of the famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, where one of his first major tasks was to perform, as one of three organists, for Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Madison Square Garden for the first U.S. visit of Pope Francis.

A reception will follow the concert.

Michael Hey is represented exclusively in North America by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, LLC.

What the critics are saying about Michael Hey

“. . .vividly played.”

(The New York Times)

“Mr. Hey performed admirably, playing without a score in front of him and making the music seem improvisatory in the way that Handel might have played it.”

(Seen and Heard International)

“[Michael Hey blew] the dust and cobwebs out of the under-utilised pipes of the great Esplanade Klais organ. And he did it with relish, spicing things up with a wonderfully easy stage manner. He also tried to lighten Bach’s somewhat heavyweight G Minor Fantasia and Fugue with imaginative registration and flutterings of the swell pedal. This could have sent purists into paroxysms of rage, but it did much to captivate the Singapore audience. Best of all, he gave a glittering performance of Bach’s Wachet auf. It was crisp, clean, and enticingly communicative. A scintillating account of Scherzo Symphonique by the French composer Pierre Cochereau afforded Hey the opportunity to display not only his tremendous virtuosity, but also his fluent command of the instrument, as stops were pulled out and pushed in in a kaleidoscopic demonstration of the organ’s colours and qualities.”

(Marc Rochester, The Straits Times, Singapore, April 2016)

Palm Sunday, Passion Week and Easter Events

Sunday, April 9: Palm Sunday

8:30 am: Worship with the Lord’s Supper

9:45 am: Regular Sunday School

10:45 am: Donkey Processional (Front Lawn)

11:00 am: Palm/Passion Sunday worship. Music: The Palms by Jean-Baptiste Faure (during Procession of the Palms); Offertory: Let This Mind Be in You by Austin B. Lovelace

12:15 pm: Kids and Family Spring Festival, Front Lawn: Giant games, catered food by “Hamburger Man,” Music, dying Easter Eggs

Lenten Lunches and Lectures

Monday thru Wednesday, we will continue our tradition of Lenten Lunches, hosted in the Main Sanctuary Narthex, noon to 1:00 pm. A member of St. Stephen’s staff will do a presentation each day, and lunch will be served. 

Ridglea and St. Stephen are doing Passion Week events together this year. Our staff, joint choirs, and officers will lead worship as our to congregations come together as one. Each will host one service.

April 12: Holy Week Children’s & Family Service

5:15 pm, Main Sanctuary, followed by Supper on the Lawn at 6:00 pm: This service uses puppets and other  kid-friendly means to help children understand the meaning of Holy Week and Easter. It is built around the Lord’s Supper. It serves as a way to educate young children about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. In our tradition, children may receive communion when the parents believe they are ready, and so this creates an opportunity for them to understand the Lord’s Supper in context and to participate with understanding.

April 13: Maundy Thursday

Noon Maundy Thursday Service at St. Stephen: This is a short liturgical service with Communion in the West Transept for friends and neighbors and for those who cannot come to evening services. It is followed by lunch in the Narthex. 

5:30 Dinner at Ridglea, 6201 Camp Bowie Blvd., 76116

6:30 Maundy Thursday at Ridglea, 6201 Camp Bowie Blvd., 76116

April 14: Good Friday

12:15 pm Good Friday Service in St. Stephen’s main sanctuary

1:00 pm Lunch in the St. Stephen Narthex

6:00 Paschal Vigil

Our annual Paschal Vigil this year starts with the Lord’s Supper at 6:00 pm Friday and is completed with a Paschal Feast at 8:30 pm Saturday. Here’s the schedule:

6:00 p.m. “Light” – Peggy Harwood, worship leader; Dr. Fritz Ritsch, homily; Lord’s Supper

9:00 p.m. “Tenebrae” – Bill Larmour, worship leader

Midnight “Vigil” – Wendy Larmour, worship leader

Saturday, April 15: Paschal Vigil Continues

8:00 a.m. “Dawning” – Dian McCall, worship leader

2:00 p.m. “Commendation” – Kurt Anderson, worship leader; Peggy Harwood, worship assistant

6:00 p.m.* “Resignation” – Carol Stalcup, worship leader – Garden labyrinth

8:30 p.m. “Holy Fire” – Laurie Sandefur, worship leader, Max Courtney, worship assistant

Following “Holy Fire” – Paschal processional and Paschal feast (Narthex)

Sunday Morning, Easter Day

8:30 am Worship with the Lord’s Supper

9:45 am Regular Sunday School

10:30 am Easter Egg Hunt–on the lawn if the weather is good; in sanctuary and upper basement of the main building otherwise

11:00 am Easter Festal Worship with the Lord’s Supper and Brass. Anthem:Hallelujah from Christ on the Mount of Olives, Op. 85, Ludwig van Beethoven;Offertory Anthem: Christ our Passover, Richard Wayne Dirksen

Lenton Sermon Series


“God of Open Arms”

Lent began on March 1, Ash Wednesday, and continues through Saturday, April 15. (Easter on April 17) This Lent Dr. Ritsch is preaching a series of sermons called “God of Open Arms” Each Sunday sermon focus on one significant story from scripture. 

March 5: Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15 ; 3:1-7)

March 12:  Jesus and Nicodemus (John 3:1-17)

March 19:  The Woman at the Well (John 4: 5-42)

March 26: Jesus heals a blind man (John 9: 1-41)

April 2: The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37: 1-14)