This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 28, 2013

“BRANDING” ST. STEPHEN’S

Apr 28aThis week, following our 10:30 service, we will talk about “selling” St. Stephen’s. No, we’re not going anywhere. But we are considering how best to present ourselves to the wider community and therefore, in that sense alone, “selling” ourselves.

Churches never had to do this in the past. They enjoyed a central and even privileged place within the social fabric. Everyone knew what churches did and how they contributed to the common good. That’s because just about everyone belonged to a church, or knew people who did. Now, when a grocery clerk has to ask what a clerical collar stands for, we know times have changed.

As the church recedes farther and farther from public notice, we must become intentional, entrepreneurial even, to win a place in the modern world. So we must be as clear as we can about who we are, what we are about, and what we have to offer the wider community. Then we must employ all the means available to us to present ourselves to that community.

In the marketing world this is called “branding”. A product becomes known by a certain image, a Apr 28bcertain impression, which plants itself in the public’s mind. But that impression must be both accurate and compelling. If it is not accurate, it is false advertising. If it is not compelling, it simply fails.

So as odd as it may sound, yes, we are preparing to “sell” St. Stephen’s. Take part in the conversation, if you can. It’s your church.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 21, 2013

“BECOMING PUBLIC SERVANTS”

Apr 21There was a time, not so very long ago, when church and politics mingled as easily as a glass of port and a good cigar. The Anglican Church in particular was so embedded in Canada’s political life that it was sometimes referred to as the “Conservative Party at prayer”! Not so much anymore.

There are those who grow nostalgic for those days of insider power and privilege. But the church in the modern age has been a given a new opportunity to define itself in the world. Now it must create its own usefulness. It must prove its worth and its place in the world rather than taking anything for granted.

At St. Stephen’s we continue to explore our usefulness as disciples of Christ and servants of God’s world. Over fifteen years ago Inn From the Cold started here, and that helped us enormously in finding a new role for ourselves: that of public servants. Now we are exploring relationships with the arts, offering our buildings as administration, studio, rehearsal, and performance space.

Some say these are hard times for the church; and declining numbers across the country would bear this out. But these are also exciting times, if we can but grasp the spirit of the age and discover new ways to love God and love our neighbour. Those of us who gather regularly here for worship and for ministry feel the great privilege of walking by faith and learning new ways to be ‘Church’ in the modern world.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 14, 2013

TO SIP OR TO DIP, THAT IS THE QUESTION

Apr 14As we used to pray in the service of Morning Prayer, “We have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against thy holy laws …” It may not be as bleak as all that, but we do need to address a matter that in recent years has led us astray: the practise of dipping (known as “intinction”).

With the outbreak of devastating diseases such as AIDS and SARS, it is understandable that Anglicans have raised questions about the potential health risks of sharing a common cup. Many have chosen, as an alternative, to receive the bread, hold on to it, and then dip it into the chalice when it is offered. This practise is now actively discouraged by the Anglican Church of Canada. And for good reason.

Nasty viruses like AIDS , for all their destructiveness, are relatively weak and are destroyed by exposure to air, soap and virtually any disinfectant (including alcohol). There is in fact a greater risk of infection, especially from common viruses like influenza, through the hands than through the lips. And intinction invariably means dipping not just the bread into the wine, but also the fingers!

For this reason, if individuals feel uncomfortable with the common cup, the better alternative is to receive only the bread and not the wine, tradition reassuring us that the presence of Christ is equally in one element as in the other.

 

BRAG Update: WE DID IT!

By God’s grace,

your generosity,

and a lot of help from friends in high places …

WE DID IT!

 We are proud, pleased … and relieved … to announce the launch of:

 

“LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS”

an ambitious renovation project that will make our church facilities

accessible, flexible and welcoming … for us and for the whole community …

now and for a generation to come.

+ + +

 Back in 2011 we asked for your support in a $1.1 million campaign to support a renovation project to give new life to our ageing buildings. That campaign met its target and we proceeded with our plans to build a ramp, an elevator, and accessible washrooms, to upgrade our electrical and mechanical services, and renovate the worship space to double as performance space.

We went to tender in February of this year and readjusted our budget once the bids came in. It appeared that the entire project might not be affordable. So we asked you to help us raise additional funds so we could ensure that the worship space would be included with the other renovations planned.

 Help us you did!

 Your donations and pledges raised almost $60,000! At the same time, the details of a recent bequest were confirmed, providing another $175,000 for the project. Then, at the last minute, a federal grant for $50,000, for which we had applied, came through (from the “Enabling Accessibility Fund”).

This is now enough for us to start work on the entire project, worship space included. We are deferring several procurements for the worship space pending the outcome of an application to the Provincial Government’s “Community Facility Enhancement Program”. Should we be successful in that application (we will know within a week or two), we will have the funds to complete all the work in the original plan. If not, the facility will still reflect our vision for the new space.

THANK YOU!