He is one of the most charmingly irreverent Reverends we know, and he takes his place proudly as a member of St. Stephen’s: this weekend the Reverend Donald Axford is celebrating the 40th Anniversary of his ordination to the diaconate.
A graduate of Huron College in Ontario (M.Div), with two graduate degrees from St. Stephen’s College in Edmonton (MA, Th.M.), Don has served the church in Ontario and Alberta, concluding his active ministry as Canon Pastor of the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary.
His longest ministry was at St. George’s, Stettler. He signed on for 3-6 months and left fourteen years later as Regional Dean—and Citizen of the Year. There, despite his own popularity in both the parish and the community, he witnessed the decline of the Anglican Church in rural Alberta—leaving him the only remaining full-time priest in the deanery.
Don has played many civic roles, including President of the Rotary Club, President of the Music Festival, and Padre to the Legion. He is a member of the Canadian Club of Calgary, the Calgary West Rotary Club, and the Eau Claire YMCA. His political activity is legendary and he has known just about every major Alberta politician of the last thirty years.
Don has survived the many battles of modern Christianity, from abortion to the ordination of women to same-sex blessings (Don was one of the “Rogue Six” who blessed a same-sex marriage at St. Stephen’s last year).
We’re just happy he’s here. Congratulations, Don!
St. Stephen’s’ members are creative people. It’s reflected in the way we’ve developed our worship space as a hub for the arts, and our Memorial Hall as affordable studios for artists. It’s reflected in our programming, which includes the Midtown Mosaic, a major annual art show curated by Ginny Binder—herself a successful artist.
Sometimes our members break through themselves and make us proud. Two weeks ago Todd Hirsch and Rob Roach launched their book on successful adaptation to unwanted change. “Spiders in Space” begins with the observation that spiders in the International Space Station re-learned how to spin a web in zero gravity. Todd and Rob then collect stories of local adapters who, similarly, have learned to thrive when adverse changes rocked their world; and they draw conclusions about the personal qualities of successful adapters everywhere. An inspiring read, and all the more so because we know the inspiring authors bringing us the story!
Then, last week, our own Maureen Jones won a Rosie Award for Best Narrator at the Alberta Film and Television Awards in Edmonton. She was cited for her work in the 2016 short fantasy film, “It’s All in Your Head”, a creepy bedtime story about a monster in the closet. Her voice is described as “eerie and menacing … perfect for the story.” But we already knew that Maureen’s voice is “perfect for the story” for all the times she has brought the Biblical stories to life for us! Our congratulations to each of you!
Reasonable people may disagree. Reasonable and caring people may disagree. We at St. Stephen’s are nothing if not reasonable and caring people. And, about one issue we’re all agreed: we must move the diocese forward to permit – at least as a local option – the blessing of same sex unions. But how to do it is another matter.
After the 10:30 service on April 9, we held a parishioners’ meeting to brainstorm ideas for action. There were ideas aplenty, offered passionately, persuasively and respectfully, all to be considered at Parish Council on April 30. The meeting itself was a powerful demonstration of our strength in diversity, hearing and coming to understand opposing views.
Here’s a sampling of the actions suggested: write and publish the story of our struggle in The Anglican Journal; join the Calgary lay movement Facebook site, “Moving Forward, Embracing Diversity;” lead an economic sanctions movement of like-minded parishes in the diocese; join the Diocese of Edmonton; fly the rainbow flag alongside a protest banner that explains our dispute; march in the Pride parade with banners stating our opposition to the Diocesan position; conduct an organized letter writing campaign, sending copies of every letter directed to the Archbishop also to the House of Bishops and the Diocesan Council; make a video of our story, for wide dissemination; go public.
All of these ideas will be considered at Parish Council and a proposal for next steps prepared for presentation to the congregation.
Thanks to all the reasonable, caring meeting attendees.