This Week: When Clergy Leave

In his Annual Report, our priest, Brian Pearson, announced his intention to retire on March 1, 2019. We are planning opportunities to say goodbye closer to the time; but meanwhile, people are asking how the parish prepares for the appointment of a new priest after Brian has gone.

The rules (called “canons”) governing the Anglican Diocese of Calgary describe the process this way: If the office of Incumbent becomes vacant, the Bishop shall consult with the Parish Council prior to appointing and licensing a new Incumbent. (Canon 8.3)

In practice, this means that, with the concurrence of Parish Council, the Churchwardens appoint a search committee, traditionally called a Parochial Committee, its membership representing a cross section of active church members. The Committee’s first task is to create a Parish Profile. This important document conveys the history and character of the parish, its sense of call in terms of ministry and mission, and the specific leadership qualities being sought in a new priest.

The Diocese then advertises the vacancy—locally, nationally, or even internationally—and the Parish Profile is made available to any clergy who express an interest in applying. Applications are made through the Bishop’s office, which then passes along the names of suitable candidates for the Parochial Committee to interview. If, in the view of the Committee, none of the candidates is suitable, a new list can be requested. When the Committee has found a suitable match, it asks the Bishop to appoint that person as the new Incumbent.

When a parish priest retires, especially if the incumbency has been a long one, church members are understandably anxious about what happens next. Last week we described the process whereby a new Incumbent is selected and appointed. This week we look at the timeline of that process.

Our present Incumbent, Brian Pearson, will retire on March 1, 2019. Over the next few months, with the concurrence of our Parish Council, our Churchwardens will appoint a search committee, called a Parochial Committee, to assist with the process. Their first task, going into the fall, will be to create a document called a Parish Profile that describes the congregation’s history and character. This will be made available to any clergy interested in applying.

After Brian has left, the vacancy will be advertised through the Bishop’s office, and applications received. In the interim the Bishop will make provision for clergy leadership and support. Usually this means that an interim priest is appointed by the Bishop to ensure continuity of worship, pastoral care, and administrative support. Every effort is made to honour the customs and practices of the parish, and not to introduce changes. We will be fortunate to have our deacon, Charmaine Evans, on hand to provide ongoing pastoral care and coordination of our programs.

The interim period between Brian’s departure and the appointment of a new Incumbent could reasonably  be expected to last six to nine months, that is, until September or December, 2019—long enough to prepare for our next chapter.


“This Week: “Live, at Steve’s Place” [April 15th, 2018]”

Music is the great liberator. It cuts across all boundaries—social, economic, race, age—as people gather to celebrate the common of bond of being, simply, music lovers … which is to say, humans!

But the rising cost of ticket prices for live shows, the content monopoly of commercial radio stations, and the rarefication of successful musical personalities—all these conspire to place music at a distance from where it belongs, that is, with the people!

Thankfully, in the modern age, the internet delivers to our ears new music from an almost infinite variety of sources, and house concerts bring musicians into our living rooms … literally.

On Friday, May 11, St. Stephen’s is offering our own house concert, “Live, at Steve’s Place”, featuring local musicians, home-baked desserts, coffee and tea creations, and a great opportunity to gather with friends.

Ticket sales will support the work of NeST, our refugee resettlement committee, and specifically, the Al Jbawi family, as we come to the end of the year of their sponsorship.

Among the performers will be our rector, Brian Pearson, who is launching his new album, “Let the Dogs Run Free”, and Laurie Johnston, a local singer.

Tickets will go on sale next week at church, on our web site, and through our Facebook page. So watch for details and plan to hang with the homies, live, at Steve’s. The people’s music: Keeping it real … and bringing it home.

This Week: “Open Doors II”

The “Open Doors II” Task Force is busy preparing its first full report to the congregation and looking forward to sharing its work and its early recommendations.

Continuing the work of “Open Doors”, which coordinated our renovations of 2013, the Task Force was struck last year by the Corporation to explore the possibilities for redeveloping our Memorial Hall, Rectory, Centre Block and surrounding properties. This work is necessary because all three ageing buildings are in dire need of attention. But rather than simply do expensive repairs, it is good stewardship to ask if these buildings, plus our church grounds, can be put to better use than they are presently.

Broadly, we are asking how our buildings and grounds can be redeveloped to fund the ministry and mission of our church, meaning, both the programs we run for our own members and the outreach we carry out in the community. More specifically, might there be partners from the wider community who would be able to help us develop our buildings and property toward this end?

The Task Force has been meeting since the fall, consulting with many current and potential stakeholders, and it is now eager to share its initial findings with you, the congregation. On Sunday, April 29, at 12 noon, please join us for an information session in the church. A full written report will be available, and a presentation will be made about progress thus far. Please bring your interest, your concerns, and your questions. The future beckons!

This Week: “Every Story Is Sacred” [March 25th, 2018]

“Every story is sacred.” That is what our outdoor church sign has announced throughout the Lenten season. It references what has been going on indoors these past six weeks, with our program “Three Days in Lent”—an exploration of our personal journeys as “stories” that can be discovered, owned, and told.

On February 24th, we learned to identify our personal stories by asking three questions: What is my way? What is my work? What is my wound? On March 10th Joanne Epply-Schmidt helped us to frame our stories such that we can share them. This weekend we accept our stories by walking the labyrinth, where we offer the story of our life back to the community as a gift.

Each story is unique, with its own valleys and mountaintops. It is born of the interaction between who we are, and what has happened to us. Each challenge we have faced, each decision we have made, each new branch in our unfolding journey, has shown us the essence of our character, of who we really are. We have acted sometimes nobly, sometimes shamefully, but a life review reveals a hidden process whereby we were becoming, at each step of the way, the person God created us to be.

So the message on our outdoor sign has been more than a promotional hook for this year’s Lenten program. It has been a reminder to take seriously the unique events that comprise the story of our lives. They tell us who we are.