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?

This Week: Dec 11th 2016

picture1This is a quick update of our ongoing work to make our diocese an inclusive Christian community that marries same-sex couples and welcomes all as equal members of the Body of Christ.

Back in September six clergy and a marriage commissioner joined to perform a wedding ceremony at St. Stephen’s for a “queer” couple (their own designation). It was an act of defiance within a diocese that does not permit same-sex blessings or marriages.

The six clergy were called before the archbishop a few weeks later, dressed down by the chancellor, and handed a disciplinary letter warning them not to do it again. Then, two months later, the archbishop sent an email to all the clergy of the diocese describing those events and attaching a copy of the disciplinary letter he had given the six clergy. A legal challenge has followed, citing a breach of the Personal Information Protection Act.

picture2The archbishop is now expecting all clergy and designated lay people from each parish to attend “Generous Listening” events he has planned for the New Year. Designed as study opportunities, they are not intended to lead to a decision but rather to help people “do their work” around this issue.

A group of clergy and lay people from across the diocese met recently to plan a way forward that presses for an end to study and debate and insists that “local option” be adopted as a diocesan policy, allowing individual parishes to make up their own minds about same-sex blessings.

This Week: December 4th 2016

picture1A  secret garden is growing in the heart of Calgary’s Beltline. Flower boxes, brightly painted, mark it outwardly, busy with gardeners of all ages during the growing season. But inwardly, there is a cultural flowering of art and music that is attracting world-class artists and savvy urban audiences. That secret garden is none other than St. Stephen’s!

Several weeks ago the Calgary Instrumental Society hosted a Sunday afternoon concert by CPO violinist and concertmaster Diana Cohen and members of her musical family. Over two hundred were in attendance for this intimate family affair. This Sunday we are visited by three of Calgary’s finest classical guitarists for a baroque and classical Christmas feast.

Professional choral groups love singing—and recording—at St. Stephen’s. In coming weeks the Renaissance Singers, One Voice Chorus, and La Vie Vocal Ensemble will all be taking the stage here, and in the New Year Luminous Voices will be recording their second album in our sanctuary.

This garden is overflowing with delight. Calgary’s culture vultures know it well, but to many it remains one of our city’s best-kept secrets, which doesn’t seem right. Good news should be proclaimed from the rooftops and in the city squares.

Your church has become a cultural mecca! Come and be fed by the cultural offerings happening here almost every week (check the Sunday bulletin, our weekly e-newsletter, or the bulletin boards for details). And then go tell the world there’s a cultural garden flowering here … and that it’s no secret!