PASTOR STEVE MAHAFFEY
Pictures from Pastor's Installation
Monthly Reports to Executive Council
'Weekly Message' Below
MESSAGE FROM PASTOR STEVE
September 14, 2023
“(Insert your name here,) child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” ELW Service of Holy Baptism, page 231.
The baptismal font at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University is a giant square font with a constant trickle of living water flowing into it. As each person enters the sanctuary, the ceiling hangs low overhead. The baptismal font, purposely placed toward the entrance of the space and at the very end of this low hanging ceiling, forces everyone entering to acknowledge its important placement in the space before going to their seat. Suddenly, just on the other side of this large font, the ceiling radically opens up and turns into a high vaulted ceiling, full of natural light flowing in from the outside. And as each person sits in the sanctuary, in those “more quiet moments” of worship, there is the sound of a constant trickle coming from the baptismal font waters, permeating the space with a constant reminder that baptism has claimed each person as one of God’s own. It’s a great space, one which (I learned while attending Trinity as a seminary student) is meant to represent “new birth,” of one’s passing through the birth canal and into the world, and is constantly “wettened” by the waters of new life in Christ through our baptism.
At many, if not most, Lutheran churches, our fonts don’t come anywhere close to the magnitude of Trinity’s font, although some congregations have, as they’ve redesigned and updated their worship spaces, given more thought to the font, its placement, and the living waters idea. Here at St. Matthew, our font is what is more typically found in most mainline churches. Still symbolic, still sacramental, and just as full of the promise we receive … just not as “in your face” as a big pool or a dunk tank found in other denominations.
Given that I’m still only 16 months into my ministry here, I’ve been especially cognizant of the various traditions that are played out here, asking questions about them and trying to understand why things get done they way they get done. So when I observed that the font gets filled with water before worship, then covered up with the lid, only to be uncovered before Holy Communion and then recovered immediately following it, I had to ask … Why? Where and when did this practice start? What’s its history? And why is it covered when people are present in the sanctuary?
You’re probably wondering if those questions were answered … and they were, but not necessarily with answers you might find satisfying or informative. Let’s just say that for the most part the answers were of the “we’ve always done it this way” sort of answers. One answer I got was even from the perspective of “fear,” that someone might “do something” to the water if we don’t keep it covered up, that we need to “protect it.”
So let me offer you another perspective, one which I’ve attempted to share with the altar guild (although I notice the ushers also seem to have a sense of responsibility for the font) … if people are in the space for worship, and there is water in it, take the lid off and leave it off. As the baptized children of God, we should be able to walk past the font at any point, stick our hands in it, and remind ourselves that we are baptized. It’s not just at a “particular” point in worship, but during the entirety of worship that we can be reminded of our new life in Christ, because baptism isn’t just about when we’re in church, but for ALL of life. Like the living waters at Trinity, it’s a constant trickle onto everything we do, and who we are. It’s something to be celebrated, not something that we guard from others.
So, if you see the font in church, with the lid off, and water sitting in the bowl, feel free to stick your hand in it, or splash yourself with it … because these waters are God’s waters filled with a promise for each of us.
In Christ, with Christ, for Christ!
Reverend Steven Mahaffey (Pastor Steve) is originally from North Canton, Ohio. After graduating from GlenOak High School in 1990, he attended and graduated from Capital University with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education. Upon graduation, he worked as a substitute teacher in Columbus and the surrounding areas, as well as worked as a downtown bicycle messenger. After a year of substitute teaching, he was hired to teach the 5 th grade in Euless, Texas, located between Dallas and Fort Worth. During the last of his three years of teaching in Euless he discerned God’s call to become a minister. The first year and a half of his seminary training he attended Brite Divinity School, located on the campus of Texas Christian University. He transferred to Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley, Ohio to complete his Master of Divinity. Following his classroom time and internship at All Shepherds in Lewis Center, Ohio, he accepted the call to serve St. Luke’s Lutheran in Marietta, Ohio, where he has served these past 18 years.
While serving St. Luke’s, in addition to the normal role a pastor plays within the life of a
congregation (planning and leading worship, committee meetings, oversight of staff, weddings, funerals, catechism, regular home and hospital visits), he remained committed to teaching, instructing the adults in over two-thirds of the Bible line by line, verse by verse. He enjoys music, participating in the vocal choir, singing solos, and ringing bells in the bell choir. He helped to lead the congregation in the updating of its constitution/bylaws/mission statement and core values/job descriptions/and helped create a sabbatical policy. He was active within the ministerial association in the conference of churches, as well as actively participated with the Synod: served for a period as a member of the Southern Ohio Synod Council; helped to develop the Thrive Campaign that’s still ongoing; served as a member of the call committee on calling an assistant to the bishop; as well as helped to cast the vision for the Synod at the transition of the Bishops. He was active in the community, serving as the President of the Harmar Rowing Club for 2 years while his children participated in High School crew, as well as helped to organize, prepare, and manage the racecourse for the Midwest and National Scholastic Rowing Championships. He enjoyed attending sporting events and cultural events in support of the local teams and youth of the congregation.
Pastor Steve believes a person can be “real and down-to-earth” and still possess a deep faith. This belief is reflected in who he is as well as how he approaches ministry and leadership. He believes the healthiest way to approach one another is with open, honest, and direct communication. That said, he shepherded his congregation through the discussions of some sensitive social and justice issues, leading them toward a response grounded in their faith, abiding with hope, and expressed in love. His door is always open and encourages people to come to speak and pray with him if there are questions, concerns, or hurts that need to be addressed. He enjoys working with teams of people, and actively encourages people to become involved in the life of the congregation by using their spiritual gifts. Pastor Steve was married for just shy of 8 years. He raised 3 children: Erin (24), a graduate from the University of Cincinnati with a Business degree in Market Research, she now resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she works at the corporate office for the Milwaukee Power Tool Company; Jacob (22), a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies, Communications Rhetoric, and a minor in English Literature, he now resides in Pittsburgh where he works for Aldi while seeking employment as a production specialist in the film and tv industries; and Jacob’s twin Jon (22), who will graduate with a Bachelor in Business and a Master’s Degree in Accounting this coming May from the University of Arkansas. Jon plans to remain in the Fayetteville, Arkansas area to work for an accounting firm that’s already hired him!
Pastor Steve enjoys movies, reading (sci-fi/fantasy and theology), cooking, and sampling new
craft beers. His passion is bicycling. He was blessed in 2019 by St. Luke’s with a 3-month
sabbatical in which to renew and recharge for ministry. Working with the congregation, he
planned a self-supported journey by bicycle across the United States. Adamant that he wanted
to share this journey with the congregation, family, and others, as well as demonstrate that
there are more decent and caring people in the world than what many believe, he wrote a daily
post with pictures on Facebook. You can still find this journey on Facebook (The Ponderings of a Pedalling Pastor). And yes, that’s the British spelling of “pedaling!”