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Pictures from Pastor's Installation 

Past Reports to the Congregation Council
'Current Message from the Pastor' Below

Biography  Below


Current Message from Pastor Steve

I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5


With the passing of the new, updated Constitution & Bylaws for St. Matthew back in November 2023 (something that hadn’t been updated for over 20 years), we brought the congregation’s polity (how we function) more into line with the way most congregations within the ELCA function. In doing so, some of the ways in which we functioned went by the wayside, which isn’t an easy thing to do after operating that way for such a long time! One of the bigger changes, the change that seems to have required the most mental shifting to happen and has resulted in the most questions, is the 5 Star Ministries. Why, even the Congregation Council has been discussing how best to “unveil” this change to help our members understand our new way of thinking. This is my attempt to help to make things a little clearer, at least I hope!!


So, let’s start with the most important thing … doing away with the 5 Star Committees Structure (Comprehensive Youth; Communication/Evangelism; Social Concerns; Congregational Life; Small Groups) doesn’t mean that we’re no longer performing ministries related to each of those areas! That seems to have been the biggest misunderstanding. In fact, these categories are still in our document as bylaws, referred to as “ministry teams.”  Previously, the 5 Stars were these massive “boxes” into which many different committees/ministries were sorted and placed. These 5 Stars would hold their own meetings, at which every ministry/committee that was in that box was expected to attend and give a report. There was 1-2 people that oversaw all the different ministries in their box, even if they weren’t necessarily personally involved. New ideas for ministries had to pass through the different 5 Stars, and IF they were approved, then they were given permission to happen. If a new ministry was started up, there was often a struggle to decide into which “box” it was placed, and who would perform the duties. Needless to say, when a particular ministry blurred the lines into a couple of the Stars, or when one Star wanted to help out with something when it wasn’t in “their” box, this system led to some hard feelings within our church, and overwhelming responsibility for leaders. There was a real sense of ownership, of separateness, rather than cooperation within the One Body. As I said to someone, rather than thinking about each area as one point on a five-pointed Star, people thought of them as 5 separate and independent Stars.


With the update to the Constitution & Bylaws, we are required to have certain committees in place; for example a Nominating, Audit, and Mutual Ministry Committee. These are non-negotiables as a part of the Constitution. But other Committees are how we, St. Matthew, choose to function; for example a Personnel, Finance, and Property Committee. These are bylaws. Not all churches have these committees in place like we do. As I said above, we also have what we are referring to as ministry teams, but these teams are more “general ways of thinking” about the many different ministries we perform. The ministry teams aren’t a committee in and of themselves, but the “spirit of each area” from which our various teams grow. This gives us the freedom to “do ministry” however we choose to do it.


That’s the beauty of the updated Constitution & Bylaws … it allows us more freedom to do things! So, even though we had a functioning Worship Team under the 5 Star system, which had to “answer” to that particular Star (Cong. Life), we can choose (or choose not) to continue with this important Team that’s involved in planning our worship. But if a group of two or three of you have a passion to start a different ministry that’s never been tried before, and you have the funds to cover it and a place to do it, then you have the freedom to go for it! And if an older ministry that we’ve been doing forever no longer seems to have the momentum behind it or the financial support from the congregation, then we have the freedom to stop doing it. Basically, this new document loosens the binds and offers us more of a permission in which to work with the Holy Spirit and where we’re being lead/guided to go. A perfect example of this happened this past weekend with two activities. The Evangelism Team decided to offer a Loads of Love event as a part of their efforts. In the past this would have had to have gone through the Social Concerns Star, as it’s clearly meeting a societal need. However, the team had the funds and felt the spirit to make it happen. And then there was the intergenerational blanket tying event to benefit Akron Children’s Hospital. Again, a social concern … but a group of individuals, through the help of Thrivent and many willing hands, made ministry happen. And none of it had to pass through a 5 Star meeting!


So, instead of thinking about our polity as 5 separate Stars, why not try to picture it as a tree? Let’s start with the roots, which keep us grounded, and from which the nutrients and water flows that gives us LIFE for all that we do and who we are. The roots are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The roots break forth and form the trunk … this trunk is St. Matthew, of which we are all a part and to which we add strength and support for the many limbs that will branch off. There are some larger limbs that come forth from the trunk … these are the ministry teams, or the ways in which we minister to one another and in the world (insert the old 5 Star categories). So from the Comprehensive Youth branch grows many different offshoots, like the Littles, Middles, and Luther League. These offshoots are able to do ministry how they choose and how the Holy Spirit leads them (lets call those the leaves of the tree). The leaves grow forth from and cover these offshoots and are the many activities and ministries that each of them perform. For example, the middles might have a leaf that is for their canned food drive, and another leaf for their Camp Retreat. Some of these leaves will stay green for many years, while others may turn brown and fall off after maybe only a year or two. But that’s ok because that’s the way life on a tree happens. Then there’s the Congregational Life major branch, from which the FINANCE branch grows, which then spreads out into smaller offshoots like the LGL Samaritan Fund, the Stewardship Team, and the Endowment Fund. But also growing from the Congregational Life branch is one for Education, out of which grows Bible & Brews, Sunday School, and Catechism. In the old 5 Star ways of thinking, there would have been confusion of where to “box” these things … is Bible & Brews a Small Group or Congregational Life? Is Sunday School and Catechism Comprehensive Youth or Congregational Life? With the tree imagery it really doesn’t matter because it’s all growing out of the TRUNK of the tree, which gets its life from the ROOTS! The important part in all of this isn’t the branches, the different ministry teams, but that we are one tree together.


I encourage you to embrace this change of perspective and thinking. As the Systems Team Report stressed (albeit with different imagery), “Christ is like a single body with its many limbs and organs which, many as they are, together make up one body; for in the one Spirit we were all brought into one body in baptism…”


In Christ, with Christ, for Christ!


Pastor Steve


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!”

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