This Week: “In The Presence Of Greatness” [November 5th, 2017]

It is our privilege, in the church, to dwell in the presence of greatness. Not fame, necessarily, nor worldly power or success. But great people nevertheless, doing great things, inspiring the rest of us.

Last week our own Jean Springer was named one of 150 women of Calgary who have made a difference. “She Who Dares” is a program of recognition of YWCA Calgary. “Extraordinary women” were chosen from 150 years of Canadian history, highlighting the accomplishments of pioneers, caregivers, artists, and teachers. Jean was chosen as a teacher of mathematics and a university dean, roles she played with customary grace and aplomb, influencing through example the many lives she touched along the away.

No sooner had we learned of Jean’s laurels, than we were devastated to learn of the passing of another great light: Gerald Smith. A member of St. Stephen’s for 70 years, since he joined the parish at age 17, Gerald was a wise leader, a true gentleman, and a treasured elder in our midst. His care and consideration, his generosity, and his quick wit and intelligence—these will not soon be forgotten. Indeed, they have become the very characteristics of the church he loved.

We are called to be God’s saints—God’s holy ones. But it is easier to rise to this calling when we have the good examples of great people in our midst. We thank God for them!

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Feed the Hungry” [October 29th, 2017]

Every year at this time, for almost twenty years, dozens of St. Stephen’s members have skipped church to chop onions, plate salads, ladle soups and feed over 500 people a hot meal across town at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.

For us it’s an annual service project but, in fact, the “Feed the Hungry” program happens every Sunday year-round, engaging thousands of volunteers, some from churches and some from businesses and community service organizations throughout the city.

Not only do we provide a small multi-generational army of enthusiastic chefs and servers, we also raise the funds to pay for the meal. So two of our monthly Special Outreach Envelopes (formerly known as “Pink Envelopes”) are designated for this work, raising over $2000 a year.

The need is obvious among our city’s most impoverished people—those without homes, without jobs, and without a place to belong. But the effects of the weekly meal go beyond a hot Sunday meal: those thousands of volunteers are meeting poverty face to face, hearing the stories, breaking down the walls of “us and them”, and creating the desire to end urban poverty and homelessness. Especially for children 

and young people, the program provides a safe “exposure tour” of the social needs of a big city, and a practical, compassionate, Christian response.

To learn more, go to www.feedthehungrycalgary.ca. Or speak with Blake Kanewischer, St. Stephen’s’ “Feed the Hungry” coordinator. Or, better still, sign up for next year’s dinner. It’s a life-changer … for all of us.

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Facebook” [October 22nd, 2017]

Last weekend St. Stephen’s was a lively place. But it wasn’t the events themselves that had us spinning; it was the speed with which the news of those events got out, and the number of people who knew about them almost instantaneously.

On Saturday afternoon we learned that Mayor Naheed Nenshi might drop by for a “Meet and Greet” prior to the Sunday service. We posted the news on FaceBook on Saturday evening and by the next day almost 500 people had seen it.

Louise Gallagher spoke to us at the Sunday service about Inn From the Cold, suggesting ways St. Stephen’s and other churches might remain involved in tending to homeless families. A video touching on her visit was posted on FaceBook on Monday, where it reached over 600 people.

But the biggest news—Saturday’s vote by Synod to ask the bishop to permit same-sex blessings in this diocese—caught fire in a FaceBook post on Saturday night and to date has reached an audience of over 4600!

Sometimes the news isn’t the message but, as Marshall McLuhan told us, the medium is. Increasingly people are keeping up to date with St. Stephen’s not by the website, not by email, not even by being here … but by following us on FaceBook, where the news is delivered weekly, and whenever else it breaks. Maybe you should join us there. Our FaceBook page is “St. Stephen’s Anglican Church Calgary”. “Like” us, and you’re in.