This Week at St. Stephen’s–October 21, 2012

HELPING THE HOMELESS

Calgary churches support a wide range of outreach projects and ministries. Many are focussed on world relief and development, many on the environment, some on human rights, and still others on evangelism here and abroad. It would be tempting to conclude that we at St. Stephen’s are not very mission-minded! But that would be a mistake.

Our own focus these past fifteen years, since the inception of Inn From the Cold, has been the local challenge of urban homelessness. While we continue to support several overseas projects, housing the homeless is what we do. We are known for this, we have become good at it, and there remains much work to do.

This Sunday, and then again in November, we are reacquainting ourselves with this outreach focus through presentations by John Rook, the Director of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, and Derek Cook, the Coordinator of Enough for All, the Mayor’s poverty-reduction initiative.

Four years into the City’s “Ten Years to End Homelessness”, we have made great strides. The Homeless Foundation reports that since 2008 over 3500 homeless people have been housed. That is an astounding number! Yet this bustling city continues to attract migration as people show up on our streets from other parts of the country, looking for work … and needing a place to live.

As we receive updates about homelessness in our city, let us also rededicate ourselves to its eradication. We need look no further for a mission field than the streets of our own city!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–October 14, 2012

STEWARDSHIP A WAY OF LIFE

Today is the first Sunday in St. Stephen’s six-week Stewardship Campaign that will run until November 18.  The Stewardship Campaign can be a time to reflect on how we make our faith concrete in the way we live our lives, in how we make choices to use our time, skills and financial resources.

This year, we’re trying out some changes to make St. Stephen’s Stewardship Campaign an opportunity for spiritual growth and deepening community.  Our worship during the six weeks will be based on themes of God’s call to each of us, and our own response to that call.  We are asking several parishioners to tell their stories of the positive contribution this community has brought into their lives, and we hope that hearing their stories will make us all a little more aware of the blessings we give and receive from one another.  We are also taking time to reflect more deeply on what God is calling us towards as a community, and how to make strategic decisions in using the resources of the parish to respond to God’s call.  Rather than expecting parishioners to support the Church out of duty, we’re excited to have a campaign focused on the wonderful positive impact St. Stephen’s makes in our own lives, and the wider community.

God calls us into joy and into service with one another, for the good of the whole world: your investment in St. Stephen’s of your time, skills and financial resources brings this call to life.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–October 07, 2012

COMING IN FROM THE COLD

This week we saw the sudden turning of the seasons. After one glorious week of autumnal splendour, the wind whipped up and came down out of the north, stripping the trees of their leaves and bringing a dash of early snow. We may still have a warm day here and there, but without question winter has come.

At St. Stephen’s, following a swirl of late summer activity, we now turn inward to the programs that will sustain us through the darkening days. On Thursdays we follow the lives of the saints at our mid-morning Eucharist. Reading from a modern-day compendium of saints’ days, memorials and commemorations, and adding our own commentary, we are reminded, as the prayer book says, that we indeed are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

On Wednesdays at 6 we gather in the sanctuary to learn and encourage one another in the ways of meditation. This one-hour session is divided into three parts: a reflection on meditation and the practice of mindfulness; a twenty-minute silent meditative sit; and open conversation about the spiritual life in general. For some this has become an important cornerstone of their spiritual practice. For others it is a way of exploring a new facet of their faith.

The Company of Men continues to meet the second Saturday of each month and a women’s spiritual support group is in the works as well. So come in closer to the fire. There is warmth and friendship here for the wintry days ahead.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–September 30, 2012

THE INSTALLATION OF A BISHOP

Yesterday, September 29th, our new bishop, The Right Reverend Greg Kerr-Wilson, was installed at a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer. As of tomorrow, October 1st, he will formally take up office as the 9th Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.

The office of bishop is one of three historic “orders” of the Church, comprising deacons, priests and bishops. While there have been exceptions, ordinarily priests are chosen from the ranks of deacons, and bishops are chosen from the ranks of priests. But in this case, Greg is already a bishop, having been consecrated to that office in 2006 for the Diocese of Qu’Appelle in Saskatchewan where he has served since then.

When a bishop moves from one jurisdiction to another, he or she is said to have been “translated”. The service of Installation means that he is properly received by the diocese—by literally being “seated” in the bishop’s chair (also known as the bishop’s stall or throne) which resides at the cathedral.

In most parish churches one seat is set aside in the sanctuary as the bishop’s chair, reminding the congregation that, even in his absence, the bishop has authority as our chief pastor and guardian of the faith. (Oddly, at St. Stephen’s we have two such chairs, which sit opposite each other, at either side of the chancel.)

As the Diocese welcomes Bishop Greg, we at St. Stephen’s look forward to meeting him and getting to know him, and to continue serving God together.