Audio Sermon – Dec 16th 2012

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This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 16, 2012

“HOME IN A BAG: AN IMPORTANT OUTREACH MINISTRY”

Today is the annual Blessing of the Backpacks at St. Stephen’s.  For more than 5 years, this community has contributed 50 “homes in a bag” annually for homeless clients at The Mustard Seed.  For those of us who live in stable housing conditions, personal hygiene may seem to be more an issue of maintaining our personal esthetic standards than anything else.  But for folks living on the streets, having the tools to keep themselves clean is vitally important for medical reasons.

Soap, shampoo and conditioner, combs and razors reduce the germ load carried by skin and scalp.  Hand lotion and lip balm are vitally important to prevent skin cracks, maintaining the skin as the body’s first barrier against infection.  Nail clippers and clean, fresh socks help prevent diseases of the foot, which are among they key medical issues faced by homeless people.  Left untreated, foot diseases can develop into serious infections like trench fever or gangrene, and contribute to life-long physical disability.  Having a toothbrush and toothpaste obviously promotes better dental health, and this can in turn reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, intestinal failure, and certain forms of cancer, as well as infections of the mouth.  Having a personal toothbrush, razor or nail clippers rather than sharing with others also helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases including Hpatitis C.

The Home in a Bag ministry helps promote good long-term health practices among clients at The Mustard Seed as our Christmas gift to them.  Thanks, St. Stephen’s!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 09, 2012

RENOVATION UPDATE

Things are about to get real in the renovation of our church! A full decade after we began the process of exploring the redevelopment of our buildings, and two years after we began our planning and launched the Open Doors  campaign to raise the money, 2013 will become the Year of the Renovations.

The process in fact has been so complex, so fluid, that reporting about it has been difficult. Even now, grant applications are being prepared and conversations are continuing as we seek community partners to join us in our efforts. But this much we know:

  • In January we will go to tender, inviting four construction firms to bid on drawings prepared by our architects Sturgess Architecture.
  • Construction will begin after Easter to install an elevator on the south side of the building, a set of new washrooms beneath the narthex, and a fully accessible washroom on the main floor.
  • Renovation of the worship space and downstairs program rooms will take place over the summer months.
  • Completion is slated for September.

The entire project is likely to cost $1,511,000. We have raised $1,272,000 to date, a combination of pledged donations and government grants. The shortfall—approximately $239,000—must be made up or parts of the plans will have to be dropped.

And it is not too late to donate! Donations can be made to “St. Stephen’s Church”, marked “Open Doors Campaign”. Tax deductible receipts will be issued for the year in which the donation is received. So act now!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 02, 2012

STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN RESULTS

A very heartfelt Thank You to everyone in the congregation for deepening your commitment to St. Stephen’s for 2013.  We have received 82 pledges to date, a 55% increase over pledges received last year, which is a huge help to us in planning for 2013.  We are excited to say that 30% of you increased your contributions, and that 18 pledges (22%) are from folks who have not pledged to St. Stephen’s before!  We are seeing a significant increase in the overall financial contribution to St. Stephen’s: our raw total is up by 11% over last year, and rising with every new pledge received!

At the same time, this Stewardship Campaign has always been about more than money.  It is about living together in community, about how much we mean to one another and to the wider community.  We thank you for the trust and confidence you are showing in our lives together, by making and increasing your pledges.  And your other contributions are enormously important as well: the time you spend serving coffee on Sundays, or cooking breakfast at the Inn on Saturday mornings; your gentle welcome to newcomers, and your invitations to Dinners for 8 or to join the Choir; your care for one another in bad times, and your applause after the organ postlude.  Your financial pledges for 2013 give St. Stephen’s stability and opportunity, but it is you yourselves, it is your participation that makes St. Stephen’s a truly rich community

This Week at St. Stephen’s–November 25, 2012

PHILANTHROPY AWARENESS WEEK

We always knew that members of St. Stephen’s were smart, generous, and professional. But now the world knows it too. Earlier in the month two of our members were honoured by the Association of Fundraising Professionals as part of Philanthropy Awareness Week.

Jocelyn Daw is the author of two books on funding partnerships in the not-for-profit sector. Her innovative approach to fundraising observes that it’s not about the money. It’s about the value that people and organizations derive from being part of something they care about, and from making connections with others who share their concern. Don’t simply ask for a donation in return for a tax receipt, she argues. Create ways for supporters to get involved. Jocelyn is the proud recipient of the Outstanding Fundraising Professional award.

Gordon Tallman may have retired from the world of banking, but he continues to use both his business acumen and his humanitarian concern to enrich our community life. Creating a scholarship endowment for single parents at Mount Royal University in memory of his son David, and actively promoting our own Open Doors campaign, Gordon has led by example and inspired others to join him. Nominated jointly by MRU and St. Stephen’s, Gordon is the recipient of the Outstanding Individual Philanthropist award.

Too often churches look nervously over their shoulders to see how other not-for-profit organizations are raising funds and staying afloat. We at St. Stephen’s need look no further than our own members, like Jocelyn and Gordon, to see how it’s done.