This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 21, 2014

GOOD NEWS FOR CLARA OUR ASSISTANT CURATE

Dec 21Clara King, our Assistant Curate, will be seeing a change in her role here at St. Stephen’s in the coming year. This is both good news, and bad.

“Curate” is an English term for the ordained person responsible for the “cure of souls” in a parish church. This means worship and education, pastoral care and administrative oversight. Ordinarily this is the “rector” or “vicar” of the parish, otherwise known as the “incumbent”. An assistant curate is a priest or deacon who assists in this ministry.

In Canada the role of an assistant curate is that of an apprentice, a newly ordained deacon or priest learning the tools of the trade and gaining experience in his or her new vocation. This is usually a two- to three-year placement that culminates in the assistant curate moving on to a parish of his or her own.

The good news is that, instead of moving on, Clara is being appointed here through 2015 as Associate Priest. This is a recognition that her training days have ended and that she takes her place alongside the Rector in the “cure of souls” at St. Stephen’s.

The bad news (for us … though it is good news for her) is that Clara will be devoting only half her time to St. Stephen’s in the coming year, while taking on a new diocesan ministry of resourcing and supporting rural ministry. It is a wonderful opportunity for Clara, though it means we will be seeing less of her ourselves.

This Week at Stephen’s–December 14, 2014

SAME-SEX BLESSINGS

Nov 23Last Sunday the people of St. Stephen’s voted overwhelmingly to support the blessing of same-sex relationships. This is not currently permitted in the Diocese of Calgary, so Parish Council has invited our bishop to meet with us to help us move forward on this issue. The bishop has also sought a personal meeting with our rector.

The Anglican Church of Canada does not include same-sex relationships in its definition of marriage. As a result, Anglican clergy are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. This may change, but it will require the consent of two consecutive meetings of General Synod, which meets every three years, meaning 2018 at the earliest.

In the meantime, some dioceses are offering a “blessing” to same-sex couples, which would not be accompanied by a civil marriage licence. Over one third of the Anglican dioceses across Canada have elected to offer what is being called a “local option,” that is, parishes may decide for themselves if they wish to offer same-sex blessings.

In our own diocese, the issue has not come up for discussion or debate. This leaves our clergy with the rule of the status quo, i.e. that neither blessings nor marriages of same-sex couples are permissible. Our support of same-sex blessings—as a step toward one day offering same-sex marriages—is our way of moving the issue onto the agenda of the diocese and also of affirming those from the wider LGBTQ community who, thus far, have been ignored by our church.

This Week at St. Stephen’s: Same Sex Blessing

samesexLast Sunday the people of St. Stephen’s voted overwhelmingly to support the blessing of

same-sex relationships. This is not currently permitted in the Diocese of Calgary, so Parish Council has invited our bishop to meet with us to help us move forward on this issue. The bishop has also sought a personal meeting with our rector.

The Anglican Church of Canada does not include same-sex relationships in its definition of marriage. As a result, Anglican clergy are not authorized to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. This may change, but it will require the consent of two consecutive meetings of General Synod, which meets every three years, meaning 2018 at the earliest. In the meantime, some dioceses are offering a “blessing” to same-sex couples, which would not be accompanied by a civil marriage licence. Over one third of the Anglican dioceses across Canada have elected to offer what is being called a “local option,” that is, parishes may decide for themselves if they wish to offer same-sex blessings.

In our own diocese, the issue has not come up for discussion or debate. This leaves our clergy with the rule of the status quo, i.e. that neither blessings nor marriages of same-sex couples are permissible. Our support of same-sex blessings—as a step toward one day offering same-sex marriages—is our way of moving the issue onto the agenda of the diocese and also of affirming those from the wider LGBTQ community who, thus far, have been ignored by our church.

 

This Week at St. Stephen’s–December 07, 2014

ST. STEPHEN’S VISION

Dec 07Ten years ago the people of St. Stephen’s had a vision. We foresaw the day when our church would be lively on Sundays with worship and busy during the week with community activities. We saw the church not only as a gathering place for our own members but also as a cultural hub for the community. More and more, this vision is becoming a reality.

Last weekend we saw no fewer than three concerts performed in our sanctuary, and a Saturday choral workshop that took place throughout the entire building. During the week we hosted three different Lifelong Learners events, two Cantare choir practices, an after-school chess club for teens, our own Guide and Pathfinder groups, and three AA-related meetings. Meanwhile, a dozen artists continue to work away in the affordable studios we created up in the Memorial Hall.

Our own church programming this week included a congregational conversation on same-sex blessings, a Tuesday meditation group, the weekly Education For Ministry course, our open chapel and labyrinth on Thursday, followed by choir practice, plus all the usual chancel activities to ready the church for Sunday.

St. Stephen’s is not just a busy place these days; it is a vibrant place. And the word is getting out. Every week Lynn our Administrator fields requests from community groups wishing to hold meetings or cultural events here. And every Sunday we welcome visitors and newcomers who want to see what all the excitement is about. Ten years on, we are living the dream.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–November 30, 2014

YOUR THOUGHT’S?

Nov 30We have now been in our renovated worship space for a full year. It has been a year of challenges as we have adjusted to the quirks and demands of the new space—like setting up and taking down the chairs, finding the right mix for the new sound system and theatre lighting, and figuring out how best to offer our space to the surrounding community.

But it has also been a thrilling time, as we have discovered all the things our new space can do—like accommodating everything from orchestra concerts to art shows, while still providing diverse arrangements for our worship, from our weekly Sunday Eucharists to special one-off services like Maundy Thursday (where we all gathered around a single table).

The new space, with its brightness and its flexible utility, now showcases the possible. At the same time, it shows up the older parts of our building, like the Canterbury Room and the Lower Memorial Hall. These are the parts of the building people see during the week, especially those from the wider community who rent our space.

So in the months to come we will begin a needs assessment of what we are calling the Centre Block—the former education wing that now houses our administrative offices. What are its present uses, and how might it offer the same range of activities as our worship space? How might our offices be more welcoming? How might the Canterbury Room become an attractive mid-week gathering place? Your thoughts?