This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 26, 2012

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Suddenly things are moving very quickly toward the renovation of our church buildings!

Members of BRAG have made an application to CADA (Calgary Arts Development Association). The application is for $795,000 toward the creation of “incubation” art space, that is, public space that allows new and smaller arts groups to rehearse, perform, and run their organizations. Our presentation was well received last week and we will find out on March 16, 2012, if CADA will forward our application directly to City Council.

Other applications have gone out for a Federal Enabling Accessibility Grant, a Provincial Community Facilities Enhancement Program grant, and two matching grants from the Anglican Foundation and the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.

Meanwhile, four sub-groups of BRAG are fanning out to obtain estimates for furniture and fixtures for the renovated church space. These include: the chairs to replace the pews; new AV equipment; organ upgrades; and ecclesiastical furnishings (a new altar and hangings).

In a another development, we have just learned that Spiritual Directions, the personal growth resource centre run from our rectory, will be closing its doors at the end of March. So suddenly, the rectory now comes into play as well as we consider our options for building renewal.

There is no word yet on the timing of the renovations themselves, as that will be set once we have received tenders for the work. To keep up to date with this fast-paced project, look for an occasional column called BRAGGING here in the bulletin and online.

BRAGGING: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Update from the Building Renewal Action Group

Well, suddenly things are moving very fast toward the renovation of our church buildings! Members of BRAG have made an application and a presentation to CADA (Calgary Arts Development Association). The application is for $795,000 toward the creation of “incubation” art space, that is, public space that allows new and smaller arts groups to rehearse, perform, and run their organizations. Our application was well received and we will find out on March 16, 2012, if CADA will forward our application directly to City Council.

Other applications have gone out for a Federal Enabling Accessibility Grant, a Provincial Community Facilities Enhancement Program grant, and matching grants from the Anglican Foundation and the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.

Meanwhile, four sub-groups of BRAG are fanning out to obtain estimates for furniture and fixtures for the renovated church space. These include: the chairs to replace the pews; new AV equipment; organ upgrades; and ecclesiastical furnishings (a new altar and hangings).

This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 19, 2012

TO KNEEL OR NOT TO KNEEL

To kneel or not to kneel, that is the question. At least, that’s one of them, as we prepare to put our renovation plans out to tender.

The issue is not whether we have kneelers for the new chairs that will replace the pews: that is a given. Nor does it affect the chapel, where things will stay more or less the same. The issue is whether or not to make provision for those who prefer to kneel to receive their communion at the main service.

For over a year and a half now, since moving the altar forward from the east wall, we have been receiving communion standing. Two lines form up the main aisle, come forward to receive communion, then return by the side aisles. It seems to have been going well. It is efficient and removes the awkwardness for those for whom kneeling, or climbing stairs, is a physical challenge. In all this time not one complaint has come forward about this practice.

But before we take anything for granted we need to ask: are there those who would wish us to make provision for kneeling? This would involve constructing a broad semi-circular platform—an apron stage—at the foot of the chancel steps, and placing removable altar rails around the edge of that platform. It is completely doable. The question is, is it necessary?

Think about this, discuss it, and let us know. Placing a comment on our web site would include others in the conversation.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 12, 2012

INN FROM THE COLD

Chief among our outreach ministries at St. Stephen’s is Inn From the Cold, a ministry of shelter and hospitality to the homeless of our city.

The early days of the Inn are shrouded in myth: Inn From the Cold was inspired by a Christmas Eve sermon preached at St. Stephen’s by Bob Purdy, Rector at the time. It was a cold night and a man was found sleeping beneath the outdoor stairway. As a response to Bob’s sermon several parishioners began exploring what we could do to provide shelter for the homeless. Five months later, after consultations with other concerned churches and citizens, the first Inn was held here at St. Stephen’s. The year was 1997.

Inn From the Cold quickly grew into a city-wide movement, a not-for-profit society supported by over seventy faith communities. As literally thousands of volunteers across the city became personally acquainted with the homeless population, stereotypes dropped away, and larger questions were asked about the root causes of homelessness. That awareness spawned the “Ten Years to End Homelessness” initiative of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

We at St. Stephen’s continue to offer two “Inns” a month, on the second and fourth weekends. Sue McPhee, who has been involved right from the beginning, serves as our Coordinator. New volunteers are always welcome, and donations can be made at any time to support this vital work. The poor may always be with us, as Jesus said, but there is no reason we may not also be with them.

This Week at St. Stephen’s Part 1 of 2–February 05, 2012

SERVING ONE PURPOSE:  TO LOVE GOD

This month our “Pink Envelopes” support the Inn From the Cold program we run here at St. Stephen’s. Next week we will say something about the Inn and its origins; but this week, a word about the Pink Envelopes themselves.

In the days when people’s regular offerings to the church were done through dated envelopes distributed annually as a boxed set, then placed on the collection plate each week, monthly Pink Envelopes were tucked in with the regular ones, each one designated for one of the outreach ministries supported by St. Stephen’s.

In recent times, as more and more people choose to make their church contributions by way of pre-authorized debit, the Pink Envelopes have become a bit of an anachronism. Still, they represent our ongoing commitment to needs and causes beyond our own operational concerns. And this is crucial in the life of a church. After all, all of our internal preoccupations—the condition of our buildings, the salaries of our staff, the programs for our members—serve one purpose: to love God by serving God’s world. In other words … outreach.

So each year, outside the constraints of the budget, we give our members the opportunity to give directly to outreach ministries that speak to them. In the fall Vestry sets the designations—six per year, each one occurring on two separate months. For information about any of our outreach ministries, ask our clergy. To participate in the Pink Envelope program please contact Jean Springer our Envelope Secretary.