There are many ministries happening right in our midst about which not all of us are aware. Guides and Pathfinders are among those, as is the weekly community chess league for young people and the life-long learning group for seniors. But also, three times a week, people gather at St. Stephen’s to find support for their recovery from addictions, or support for their life living with an addict.
Alcoholics Anonymous has a long history as “an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem.” It was started in the 1930’s by a doctor and a businessman, both alcoholics. They applied Christian principles to addictions and created Twelve Steps to assist alcoholics to live a sober life “in recovery” (AA never calls a sober alcoholic “recovered”, only “in recovery”).
The Twelve Steps proved so useful to alcoholics that they were applied to other addictions as well, such as drugs (Narcotics Anonymous), sex (Sex Addicts Anonymous), food (Overeaters Anonymous), and gambling (Gamblers Anonymous). The Steps also provide support for the partners and families of addicts, helping them cope with the unique stresses of living with an addict. This group is called Al Anon.
Numbers are hard to come by (AA, after all, relies on anonymity) but it is estimated that AA has helped well over 2 million alcoholics worldwide. Some of those in recovery, along with their family members, have found new life in groups that meet here at St. Stephen’s. We are proud to be their home.
|SW Serenity AA
Sundays, 8:30 pm
Open Group (show up)
Tuesdays, 8:00 pm
For family and friends of problem drinkers–
Find understanding & support
Explorer AA Group
Wednesdays, 8:30 pm
Open Group (show up)
AA Help Line & Email
Al-Anon Help Line
Our new Parish Council had its first meeting last Sunday and its members clearly have their work cut out for them!
Looming large on the horizon is a major renovation project for the Memorial Hall and office block. A team of church members will head the project, reporting to Parish Council. It will do a full needs assessment of both the engineering and the programmatic needs of our buildings and property, and prepare recommendations for the congregation’s consideration.
The issue of same-sex marriage continues to be unresolved in this diocese, meaning that parishes are currently prohibited from offering either marriage or even blessings to same-sex couples. The churchwardens are considering assembling a congregational meeting to study the range of options available to the parish in moving the issue forward toward a decision at the diocesan level.
Succession planning is necessary for all the staff changes occurring within the next few years, requiring strategic shifts away from reliance upon the rector and toward increasing self-sufficiency of the Council and Corporation.
All this requires a guiding vision and a steady hand at the wheel. So the Corporation is delighted to announce its appointment of Pat Cochrane as Chair of Parish Council for a two-year term. Among her many other qualifications and civic involvements, Pat was a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education for fourteen years, and chair of that body for over ten years. We welcome Pat to this new role and look forward to her leadership through this challenging time.
One of the complaints of modern living is how busy we all are. In fact, it is sometimes offered as a badge of courage for surviving the fray: “Hi, how are you?” “Really busy! And you?” “Same!”
Jesus preached that we have to turn around (“repent”) in order to see the kingdom of heaven in our midst. Lent is the church season for making the necessary course corrections that will set us back on the right track. People will sometimes make special sacrifices, like dieting, or take on specific obligations, like making special offerings of time or money, as a corrective spiritual measure.
Lent at St. Stephen’s begins with Ash Wednesday, on March 1, and an evening service that offers the Imposition of Ashes, an ancient sign of humility intended to remind us of our mortality. Recalling that we are all going to die someday might sound morbid, but it works to sharpen the urgency of re-setting our priorities.
Next Saturday, March 4, we are offering a Lenten workshop that will involve walking the labyrinth, another ancient—in fact, pre-Christian—practice that engages not just the heart and mind, but the body as well, in a “walking meditation”.
On Tuesday evenings throughout the Lenten season (from March 7 to April 4) we will be studying the practice of mindfulness, the spiritual discipline of “paying attention”. Various meditation techniques will be explored to stop the racing of our minds and bring our attention back to the present moment.
Welcome to Lent!
Churches are like small towns. We spend time with people who leave an indelible imprint on our lives, people who get to know us, and we them, in familial relationships that sometimes last a lifetime. We mark each other’s milestones, the good and the bad alike, laughing and weeping together until one of us takes our leave … and the entire community feels the loss.
This past week we celebrated the life of Marguerite Picken. Marguerite was one hundred years old, and most of those years she spent with us as an active member of St. Stephen’s. It was her habit to attend our early Sunday morning service so not everyone knew Marguerite in recent years. But even as she seemed to shrink before our eyes, her genuine interest about each person she met meant that you didn’t forget her once you’d met her. And she didn’t forget you.
The brightness that shone in her eyes, born of intelligence and curiosity, showed a love of life and a daily delight in God’s fascinating world. Children figured prominently in that world and her natural family had to “draw the circle wide” many times to accommodate all those whom she regarded as family. Right up to the end, as her world closed in upon itself, her smile could light up the room at the appearance of an old friend.
We are diminished by Marguerite’s passing, but she has left her mark on all who were lucky enough to have known her. RIP.