This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 17, 2013

WE ARE BLESSED

Feb 17This week we see a changing of the guard in the leadership of St. Stephen’s. We recognize again how blessed we are by the gifts and resources of our membership.

Four members of Parish Council stepped down at last week’s Annual General Meeting: Jill CoggIns, Craig Melton, Craig Mushens, and Emma Westcott. All were part of our attempt to revitalize Parish Council this past year by having individual members each take responsibility for one “cluster” of parish ministries. They are replaced by four newly elected members: Grant Broadhurst, Janine Mitchell, Jackie Mootoo, and Rob Roach.

Neil Miller will step down as Rector’s Warden this year, but not just yet. Gary McCone was to have taken his place as Neil ended his term, but Gary moved away in November. So Neil will now remain until the summer when former People’s Warden Louise Redmond will return to fill out Gary’s term as our new Rector’s Warden, that is, until 2015.

Meanwhile we are pleased to announce that at our AGM Mary Lou Flood was elected Deputy People’s Warden. She will serve as deputy for a year and then follow People’s Warden Dariel Bateman who now enters the second year of her two-year term.

Jack Walker has accepted reappointment as Treasurer and also as the Co-Chair, along with his wife Heather Walker, of our Open Doors Campaign. Keith Moe and Louise Redmond continue as co-chairs of BRAG, our Building Renewal Action Group.

See? We are well blessed by the leadership of our Parish!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 10, 2013

TRANSFIGURATION

Feb 10This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, known as the high point of Jesus’ ministry.  In the Harry Potter series, transfiguration means turning something into something else, but in the biblical story, Jesus is not turned into something else – he is revealed as who he is, the beloved of God.  The upcoming changes to our worship space may feel very dramatic – but we are not turning into something that we are not already.  Our community has a strong instinct for innovation, and a high tolerance for creativity, change and risk in worship; our worship space renewal is a revealing of that deeper identity to the wider community.  And it may take some time for us to get comfortable in a skin that fits us better and gives us more room to play.

And after his Transfiguration, Jesus walked down the mountain looking exactly as he did before.  Today we are celebrating the baptisms of Megan and Noella, and they won’t look any different when we’re done either.  But today, we name them and see them as they really are, beloved children of God, and we remember that it’s true for every single one of us.  Through all the dark times that can come in this life, we need reminders of who we really are, deep down: beautiful, beloved children of God.  And we need healthy communities who keep believing in us.  So thanks to Megan and Noella for revealing this truth today as we prepare to be transfigured.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 03, 2013

ST. STEPHEN’S IS BLESSED

Feb 03Churches rely on the faith and generosity of their members. The clergy have their role—providing spiritual care and leadership. The staff offer administrative and program support. But it is the members who do the “work” of a church, contributing their time and energy, their vision and passion, their money and their expertise.

We at St. Stephen’s are blessed with many active members. It is their work that lends our church its character, its ministry in the world, and its reputation in the wider community. Inn From the Cold would be an obvious example, with its overflowing roster of willing workers.

But there are so many others: Maureen Jones and our Radio Nights program; Jill Coggins and the many outreach projects she has coordinated; Ginny Binder and our Midtown Mosaic; Marion Gibson and our Stampede Breakfast; Tom Clarke and his fall book sellers; Marilyn Nettleton and her coffee hosts; Ron Daley our volunteer Verger; all the members of our Chancel Guild, Choir, and Sidespeople who serve so faithfully week after week.

And even with that, the list is not complete. Just climb the stairs to our office any day of the week to see even more! Get involved in the Open Doors Chapel Ministry, or the Feed the Hungry Dinner, or our Excellent Adventure program, and meet many of your fellow parishioners. Meet even more at our Dinners for Eight.

This week, as we prepare for our upcoming AGM, once again we honour and thank our many active members: you!

This Week at St. Stephen’s–January 27, 2013

THE ORDERS OF MINISTRY

Jan 27It’s official. Clara will be ordained a priest on May 19, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer. Some will say, “That’s nice. But what difference will it make? Is Clara not already a minister?”

In the Catholic tradition (of which we are part) we do not tend to use the word ‘minister’ for the clergy. The reason is that all baptized Christians are called to be followers of Jesus Christ, each with their own unique ministry to offer. Calling the clergy ‘ministers’ undermines the notion that we’re ALL ministers.

But having said that, the Church has created three orders of ministry set aside for distinct service and leadership: deacons, priests and bishops. Clara is currently a deacon, a role embodying Christian service that is symbolized by her reading the Gospel each week, preaching, preparing the altar, and giving the dismissal. A deacon reminds us of our own baptismal calling to serve.

A priest stands at the centre of a congregation’s worship by presiding at the Eucharist. A priest can also baptize, bless people and things (the rings at a wedding, for instance, and then the couple in the “nuptial blessing”), and pronounce absolution, or forgiveness, in God’s name.

A bishop, who continues to share the functions of deacon and priest, has the added authority to consecrate Christians for ministry in the rites of Confirmation and Ordination, to “defend” the faith, and to be a unifying symbol of the Church.

In short: to each their own.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–January 20, 2013

“WANTED: ACTIVE MEMBERS”

Jan 20aPlanning and budgeting for 2013 has us thinking about the engagement of our members. Many of us have come to church as “consumers”, shopping for the best product at the lowest cost. But then something happens once we settle in. We grow attached to the place and its people, and begin looking for ways to get more involved and to deepen our commitment.

There are two types of involvements at St. Stephen’s: the “What’s in it for me?” programs, and the “How can I help?” jobs. The first have to do with our needs, the second with the needs of others. And both are legitimate. Jesus reminded us that we are to love God, and then to love our neighbours as ourselves. So, loving ourselves—taking care of ourselves and attending to our own needs—becomes the basis for loving our neighbours … because it is not out of need, but out of an abundance of love in our own hearts.

Our needs get met through educational programs like the Lenten Bible study, or Dinners for 8, byJan 20b engaging worship and attentive pastoral care. We meet the needs of others through Inn From the Cold and the Feed the Hungry Dinner, through the Rector’s Discretionary fund and the City’s Ten Years to End Homelessness.

And then there is the Job Jar: chores that someone has to do—both for ourselves and for others—like organizing a Spring Clean-up or counting money. More about all this in the weeks to come.