We are proud to share that one of our Partners of Hope is St. Stephen Lutheran Church, “Team Jesus.” You may recognize the team name from the Liberty Fall Festival, Liberty Half Marathon, or simply the bright, bold orange t-shirts seen around town. As we sat down this month with Pastor Joe Rodriguez, Pastor Cal Kapels, and deaconess intern Kim Sherwin, we learned much more about “Team Jesus” and their heart for the community.
“St. Stephen has always been a church moving forward. Our people are excited and engaged, which is why growth occurred well from the beginning,” shared Pastor Joe. This beginning, reaching back to 1960, was an opportunity to bring people to Christ and grow people in Christ in the Liberty area. This philosophy established their mission statement that has carried forward through the years.
“We want to be outward-focused in all that we do, from our preschool to our social events,” explained Pastor Cal. “Team Jesus was a simple way to brand that communicates a simple, clear message.” They are in the work to emulate Christ and His work in serving others.
Small Saints Preschool, as mentioned, is a significant piece of serving the needs of the community and caring for families. “It is an opportunity to not only serve our congregation, but to share with those we interact with about the love of Christ through the Church and the hope that comes from faith in Christ,” shared Pastor Joe.
Not only does St. Stephen serve the community through its wonderful preschool program, they provide frequent opportunities for families and individuals to engage in different ways. From small groups that meet to encourage one another to learn and grow to marriage classes. From teaching families to manage finances through Financial Peace University to bringing a powerful youth abstinence speaker to town. St. Stephen Lutheran Church stays active. Wanting to stay visible, so the community knows their presence, the church also participates in local events like the Fall Festival, the recent half marathon, and local days of service.
When asked about the personality of the church, Pastor Cal shared about the immediate welcome he received as a visitor, that those he met were excited to have him and authentic in building relationships. Pastor Joe smiled as he shared that he sometimes likens the church to a party boat, happy to be together, energized by the community, and always moving forward.
St. Stephen is a church honored to love and serve the Liberty community and we are proud to call them a Partner of Hope.