ARTS ‘R’ US
For over ten years the arts have been integral to the life of St. Stephen’s. This was been a natural development, but also a strategic one. In a day when churches are becoming more insular, when the world is moving away from its religious roots, we wanted a reason for our neighbours to get to know us. The arts provide that reason.
We started with a few concerts of our own, including evenings of music and storytelling by our rector, concerts by the Donald Ray Johnson Blues Band, and a visit from South African choir Memeza Africa. We also accepted bookings for concerts by local musicians, among them CPO cellist Phil Hansen, and country icon Tom Jackson. We extended our reach with the annual CBC Christmas Carol reading, and then with our own Radio Nights, dramatic readings by some of Calgary’s finest actors, an event that showcases local playwrights.
The Midtown Mosaic Art Show and Sale, with our book & bake sale and deli, completes the picture. Over twenty local artists will be displaying their art in the church this Friday evening and Saturday. The Show opens with a special Premiere on the Thursday evening featuring the Soul Food Band and a presentation by Jennifer Mason, an artist and inspirational speaker from Toronto.
Meanwhile our churchwardens are working on an arrangement that would see over a dozen artists set up studios in our upper Memorial Hall. And there is more. St. Stephen’s and the arts—a match made in heaven.
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Anyone who has lived it knows that the spiritual life is painful. As all vestiges of ego and self-interest are stripped away it feels like a kind of dying, like a seed being planted in the dark and soulful depths. But—as we Christians believe—on the other side of death is the most exquisite life; on the other side of planting is the most beautiful flowering.
We see this movement—from death to new life—in the stories of the prophets and patriarchs, in the Passion of our Lord, in the lives of the saints, and in the present-day experience of seekers everywhere. It is the story we will hear on Thursday, September 27, when Jennifer Mason shares her harrowing journey with us in Waking Up, an inspirational event co-sponsored by St. Stephen’s and the Wisdom Centre.
With music provided by the Soul Food Band, and a preview of art from the Midtown Mosaic, Jennifer will recount the spiritual path that led her from faithful Christian and promising Mezzo Soprano, to rheumatoid arthritis sufferer and shunned cult member, to a radiant artist and seeker of wisdom, an inspirational speaker who encourages others on their own spiritual paths.
Jennifer’s presentation will be illustrated by her own art work, some of which will be for sale at the Midtown Mosaic which follows on the Friday and Saturday. Tickets for this event are $20 and are available online (visit our web site for details: www.ststephenscalgary.org) or at the door. Don’t miss it.
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WELCOMING OUR YOUNGEST MEMBERS
In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, novice farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice saying, “If you build it, he will come.” Seeing the vision of a baseball diamond, he interprets the message literally and ploughs under part of his corn field to make way for a professional sized diamond. Against all odds, and against common sense itself, when he completes the field, Shoeless Joe Jackson appears, along with seven other long-dead players from the 1919 Chicago Black Sox.
The reference, “If you build it, they will come,” has often been quoted by people who want to justify hair-brained schemes. But one such scheme seems not to be so crazy. When it comes to church growth, if you staff it, they will come … meaning, provide the staffing for a particular demographic—children, youth, seniors—and that demographic will show up at your door … and they will stay.
Such was our thinking when we engaged a volunteer nursery coordinator for the coming year and hired two trained nursery caregivers. Charmaine Evans, our new Coordinator, is a member of St. Stephen’s with a wealth of experience in childcare, and specifically in church nurseries. Eunice Neba is a professional childcare worker with autistic children; Roberta Villaverde is a student in Early Childhood Education at Bow Valley College.
So this week we open our Sunday nursery for a new season, returning to its original location down in the Bethlehem Room, where we will take great pleasure in welcoming our church’s youngest members.