Renovation Corner: May 26 2013

Well, if there was any doubt that we are in renovation mode, we have only to try to park off the alley or enter the church to make believers of us!

The hole has now been dug in the back in preparation for the elevator shaft. It will be built to provide entry on all three floors: the basement (in what was the Nazareth Room), the main floor adjacent to the Canterbury Room, and the office floor across from Lynn’s office.

The church itself has now been emptied of furnishings to allow for the installation of new flooring, and we have moved our worship down to the lower hall. The metal chairs there may not provide too much by way of comfort, but the Building Renewal Action Group (BRAG) is considering chairs to replace the pews that are not only sturdy and attractive but also … comfortable.

Renovation Corner: May 19 2013

We tend to think of our renovations as a personal matter. We are updating our buildings to support our new directions in ministry and mission. So we might be a little surprised when the media take a sudden interest, as they did this past week.

The selling off of our pews has turned out to be a bit of a witness in its own right. All week we have been fielding calls from the media about our upcoming sale, about why we’re doing it, about what it means. And each time, we have an opportunity to tell our story once again … of St. Stephen’s, of what Go seems to be doing here, and of our attempt to find new ways of being the church in the world.

But the media is not the only way the world has been taking an interest. We have now received a pledge from a former member, who came to St. Stephen’s with his mother back in the 1940’s, and who wants to “gift” us with a refurbished sacristy as part of our renovations.

So the word is out. There’s something happening at St. Stephen’s. And we, by the grace of God, are privileged to be a part of it!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–May 19, 2013

WHEREVER THE SPIRIT LEADS US

May 19Pentecost is about new life. And not simply life unfolding before us, as we witness in our gardens every springtime. But life unfolding within us, as we feel the rejuvenation of new directions and new possibilities.

The disciples had no idea what was happening when, like the rush of a mighty wind, the Holy Spirit came suddenly upon them, sending them out into the streets to witness to God’s power. It is from this point on that they were no longer called “disciples”, a passive term, but “apostles” or “those who are sent out”. While Jesus had sent them out many times during his earthly ministry, now they were being sent out—compelled—from the inside, from the Spirit of Jesus residing within them.

And so with us. Clara will be ordained to the priesthood this afternoon, “sent out” to preach the Good News, to preside at the Holy Table, and to care for God’s People. As much as she will always be part of us, she is being set apart for a particular mission and ministry, one that will take her wherever God calls her.

Our congregation is experiencing such a “sending out” these days too. We have left our beloved church while it is undergoing renovations. We are worshiping below in the church hall like a people on a journey. When we return, sometime in the early fall, we will be in a strange new land, with new directions and new opportunities—wherever the Spirit will lead us.

Renovation Corner: May 12th

A difficult decision this week.

After the plans had been drawn up for the lower level washrooms, to be situated beneath the narthex, it came to our attention that some people in the congregation would miss the convenience of a main floor washroom, in particular, seniors and people with mobility issues. So we found the money elsewhere in the budget to demolish the present washroom and recreate a fully accessible main floor washroom in its place.

But at a site meeting with the builder last week we heard concerns about hazardous materials in the ceiling of the hallway outside the Canterbury Room. Left alone, no hazard presents itself. But disturbed, as it would be in the building of a new washroom, the entire ceiling would have to be replaced … doubling the cost.

Without minimizing the convenience of a main floor washroom, we did not see where the money would come from to proceed. So regretfully we have had to let it go. The present washroom will be taken out (the space is needed to accommodate the entrance to the elevator) but a new one will not be built. We hope that, in the end, the stairs and the elevator will provide ample access for everyone to the washrooms downstairs.