This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 10, 2013

RENOVATION BUDGET

Mar 10We are in campaign mode once again. But not for long.

The bids have come in for the renovations we have been planning for the spring. Given our funds at hand—a combination of donations to our Open Doors Campaign and a government grant—plus the pledges still coming in from the campaign, we find ourselves $345,000 short of our goal.

We have enough to fund the priorities the congregation set when we launched the campaign: an outdoor ramp up to the Canterbury Room doors; an elevator connecting the three floors of our main buildings; and new washrooms adequate for our seating capacity.

But it is not enough to allow us begin renovating the worship space. This renovation would have featured a new sound system, the replacement of the pews with (padded) chairs, theatre lighting for both our worship and the performing arts, and a low apron stage at the foot of the chancel.

Grant applications are currently pending for community enhancement and accessibility programs of the provincial and federal governments. We are also waiting for the resolution of a generous bequest earmarked, in part, for the renovation. Together these potential funding sources would have helped meet the shortfall. But they are speculative in nature and indefinite in timing.

So we are returning to the congregation to help us fulfil our vision. When you receive a letter from Jack & Heather Walker, our Open Doors Co-chairs, please consider prayerfully your response. We need to hear from you by March 17th.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 03, 2013

HERE WE GROW AGAIN

Mar 03There are many different ways to understand the Season of Lent.  The movie Chcolat, with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp presents the story of a vivacious chocolatier who opens her chocolate shop in an austere French village just in time for the start of Lent, for them a time of strict fasting, penitence and self-restraint.  Yet rather than bringing forth a spirit of charity and Christian humility, many villagers instead embody jealousy, self-righteousness, and zeal for judging others.  So what is the fasting for, if we do not go deeper in loving God, and loving our neighbour as our selves?

The Apostle Paul contrasts the “works of the flesh” from the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5: 19, 22).  Works are what we set ourselves to accomplish, something we produce because we have willed it.  But a tree does not grow fruit because it wills it, but because producing fruit is integral to the tree’s very nature, part of what it means for the tree to be a tree.  Paul tells us, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

This Lent, our theme is growing, like seedlings, into God’s tender love.  Lent is a time for getting back to the basics of our faith, and deepening in love and grace.  As we grow this way together, let us uphold in ourselves and each another those fruits we see growing in our community, and grow deeper.