This Week: “Vast And Free” [June 25th, 2017]

As we prepare to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial we are reminded that St. Stephen’s is itself a microcosm of this great and diverse nation: regionally distinct yet globally inclusive.

In two weeks we will celebrate that great local tradition—Stampede! While few of us wrangle horses or drive cattle for a living (well, none of us actually!), we revel in that distinctive part of Alberta’s history by donning our Stetsons, pulling on our boots, and letting out a Ya-hoo or two.

Here at St. Stephen’s that means our annual outdoor Stampede breakfast and worship service, which happens on Sunday, July 9, from 9 to noon, featuring a full flapjack meal and the country tunes of the Padre and the Cow Pies, attracting a few hundred of our neighbours.

And next week—Canada Day weekend—following the 10:30 service, we will be treated to homemade fatteh, a Syrian treat prepared by Soheil Issak in thanksgiving for the friendship and welcome he and his family have received at St. Stephen’s since arriving here as refugees a year and a half ago.

Meanwhile, a small of group of church members are working hard to support the Al Jbawi family, newly arrived from Syria via Amman, Jordan, as they settle into their new life in Canada. And looking around our congregation we recognize many others who have joined us from afar.

Like this great nation of ours—vast and free—we are proud of our roots yet open to the world: God-given qualities worth celebrating!

This Week: “Confirmation” [June 18th, 2017]

Seven young members of St. Stephen’s take a major step along their spiritual journey this weekend as they profess their faith, kneel before the bishop, and receive the strengthening of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of his hands. The rite is called Confirmation.

Confirmation was devised in the early days of the church when only bishops could baptize, but when the expanding faith meant congregations didn’t see the bishop too often. So local priests were authorized to baptize their new members, whom the bishop would “confirm” sometime later when he was in town.

Over the years confirmation came to assume quite a different role, as an adult profession of faith by those who were baptized as infants. More recently the rite became an unintentional graduation ceremony for young people who had been told they only had to attend church until they were confirmed, when they could choose for themselves: which they did, and then promptly left the church!

But our current crop of confirmands makes us proud with their mature understanding that being a Christian is a lifelong calling. Their personal statements of faith (which are available for you to read in the bulletin) inspire us in their concern to apply their faith in service to God and to the world.

We join in prayer and thanksgiving for Megan Harris, Ryan and Paige Miller, Euan Mushens, Brayanna Mustard, Julian Suire, and Santana Rose Suitor who will be confirmed on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Christ Church, Elbow Park.

This Week: “Cantaré Children’s Choir ” [June 11th, 2017]

For the last four years we have been blessed to host the renowned Cantaré Children’s Choir here at St. Stephen’s. They have operated from the second-floor offices in the Memorial Hall, stored their vast music library in our under croft, and rehearsed in the church itself, not to mention performing there as well. During their workshops and training events the place has been flooded with happy and energetic children flowing through the building, filling the air with song.

Sad to say, Cantaré has decided not to renew their lease with us, so we are preparing to say goodbye to them during the summer months. They will leave a hole in our hearts, as it has been an altogether happy arrangement. They fulfilled our hopes for an ideal tenant in that we felt a personal connection with them and with the inspirational work they were doing, extending a sense of wonder into the world through song.

Catherine Glaser-Climie, Artistic Director, along with her staff and volunteer team, showed just what was possible when motivated children are given attention, structure, and direction. Rarely have dozens of young people passed so gently and respectfully among us, leaving behind only a trail of happy memories … and, of course, good vibrations.

Having sung at some of the great concert halls across Canada, including with the CPO at our own Jack Singer Hall, the choir now prepares for a European tour. But we had the privilege of hearing them first. Every blessing as they go!