Welcome Sujanna Raj

St. Stephen’s is excited to announce the arrival of interim pastor Sujanna Raj. Her infectious smile and easy going personality have already impressed many in our church. When asked about her journey in faith she offered this account…

When God calls, he qualifies the call. Sometimes it takes many years to discern the call or takes a moment to get started. My call as Rev./ Pastor Sujanna started in 2001 – I’m an Episcopally ordained minister for over 19 years.
Since my childhood, I had a strong desire to serve the poor and the needy. My father worked for human resources development ministry where his work involved empowering the oppressed communities of the society. I have always been consciously aware of the atrocities happening around me. It is in me or the gene from my parents made to actively engage, reflect and bring awareness through programs and training.
Being a pastor made things possible to meet the needs of the people; uplift them spiritually, support them economically and socially through generating the schemes of the govt and church support.

Women pastors are few in India. I was given opportunities to represent the status of women in church and society globally. In 2010, I came to the US to address a general council of world reformed churches of America. I represented the World Council of Churches in Romania and Geneva (WCC). In 2012 I did my Masters in Theological Studies at Eden Seminary.
After my Masters, I became extensively engaged with the multi-denominations church services, liturgy and worship. It was a great and unique learning experience from different traditions, perspectives, and diversities. I have been helping Advent, St. Luke’s and Good Shepherd Episcopal churches for some time.
In 2017, my husband Rev. Clive and I started an Indian church – Faith Christian Church of India (FCCI), which is duly recognized by the Episcopal diocese as a mission church. We are blessed with a son, Cavin, who is a senior and music director of our FCCI Church. We do a lot of outreach programs through this church. I always believe God has a strong purpose in getting me here from India. I am leaving 99 sheep behind but I’m here for one lost sheep – and the mission for the lost continues in my journey wherever I am sent.
Some journeys are short and sweet, some journeys are adventurous and heroic. My journey is weird with unexpected twists and turns. My joy is seeing the face of God in hopeless and helpless people, I draw great joy and strength from serving such people, seeking the lost.

“Here I am Lord”

Peace ,
Sujanna.

New Bishop elected

November 23, 2019

The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri elected the Rev. Deon K. Johnson as its 11th diocesan bishop today at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis. He was elected on the first ballot during an election that involved 164 voting delegates. He received 71 votes from lay delegates and 42 votes from clergy.

A veteran Episcopal priest with deep experience in social justice issues and ministry to gay and lesbian communities, Johnson, who lives in Michigan with his husband and two children, has been rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton, MI, since 2006.

Johnson was elected to lead a community of more than 10,000 worshipers in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Church delegates and clergy members chose their 11th bishop on Saturday during the 180th diocesan convention.

“I am overwhelmed with joy, humility, and gratitude,” said Bishop-Elect Johnson from his home in Michigan to the people of the Diocese of Missouri. “The Holy Spirit has brought us to this day, for such a time as this. I am looking forward to walking with you as we share the liberating love of Jesus. My husband and our family are looking forward to being with you in the new year.”

Johnson will assume the post upon the retirement of the 10th bishop of Missouri, the Right Rev. George Wayne Smith, who has shepherded the diocese since 2002. Smith announced his retirement, effective with the ordination of the new bishop, in April 2018. Johnson was elected by a majority of both lay and ordained delegates to the annual diocesan convention, according to the rules of the convention.

A veteran Episcopal priest with deep experience in social justice issues and ministry to gay and lesbian communities, Johnson is a native of Barbados who immigrated to the United States at age 14 and found his call to ministry nurtured by parishioners at a church near Case Western University in Cleveland, where he earned his undergraduate degree.

Today’s historic election will be submitted to bishops and diocesan standing committees for their ratification. Once those consents are received, the service of ordination, by which Johnson becomes a bishop and assumes responsibility for the pastoral and administrative work of the diocese, will take place on Saturday, April 25, at St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church in St. Louis. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be the chief consecrator at the service. A reception will follow at the Polish Heritage Center on St. Stanislaus’ grounds. Media are welcome.