This Week: January 8th 2017

Canada: Worthy of our Prayers

This year Canada celebrates its 150th Birthday! Some of us remember the national celebration that accompanied our centenary in 1967—a golden moment in our history! Those memories live on through song (Bobby Gimby’s “Ca-na-da” has become an earworm that some of us will never shake) and through countless cherished photo albums (with real fading photographs!) of cross-country trips and, of course, Expo ’67.

The world seems a darker, less hopeful, place these days. Terrorism knows no borders, warfare abounds, and the instability of once-friendly nations erodes our confidence of our place in the world. An international exposition like the one we hosted on the Island of Montreal would now seem more like an invitation for trouble than a welcome mat rolled out for the world.

So it may be especially important that we keep Canada in our thoughts and prayers throughout the coming year. St. Paul encouraged this in the churches he founded. To Timothy, his apprentice in ministry, he wrote, “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all people—for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour …”

Despite all that frustrates us, and perhaps even angers us, about our nation, its leaders, and its competing territorial and ideological interests, let us pray for Canada this year—and pray with thanksgiving. Would you rather be anywhere else?

This Week: December 18th 2016

Year-end Reality Check

The stewardship program has wound up, pledges are in, and we’ve started our budgeting for 2017. But, “Houston … we have a problem!”

At our parish visioning conversations in October we identified two trends: (1) people are happy overall with the direction St. Stephen’s is moving, including the quality of our congregational life, and our outreach to the city, and beyond; (2) people want more of the same, expanding our youth programs by adding to our pastoral staff, and engaging with the wider community even more intentionally by re-fitting some of our space.

The problem is, our actual givings—including the pledges we have just received—tell us that we should be doing less, not more! In fact, barring a miracle between now and Christmas, we are likely to enter 2017 with a deficit of somewhere between $12,000 and $25,000, effectively removing new staff and building upgrades from the table!

The rector and wardens are asking all parishioners to reconsider their financial support of this “lively and diverse midtown congregation”. Specifically, they are asking:

  • If you are not doing so already, please consider stabilizing our cash flow by giving by way of pre-authorized debit.
  • If you have not pledged, please do so. Let us know your intentions.
  • If you have already pledged, please revisit the amount and consider at least another 5% increase.
  • Or give us a whopper of a one-time gift, helping us climb out of debt and into the exciting possibilities of the New Year.

Will you help?