NeST (Newcomer Support Team) continues to prepare as we await word on an arrival date for the Syrian refugee family of 6 we are sponsoring, currently waiting in Jordan.
- About 51 NeST volunteers met for an Orientation Session at St. Stephen’s on Sept 18 and heard an update on each Team’s activities and preparations to date. Volunteers received copies of the NeST Volunteer Guidelines and (if applicable) Volunteer Driver Policies. Those who have completed the security screening for working directly with the family received their NeST nametags. This wonderful ‘village’ is patiently waiting to support the family when they come.
- Between individual donations, outreach contributions, two garage sales, St. Paul’s silent auction and the sale of quilts made by St. Stephen’s quilters, we have raised just over $40,000. This is a phenomenal response and gives us a strong financial base from which to support the family through their first year in Canada. Note that the anticipated partial government funding (6 months of support at social assistance levels) will be in addition to the above.
- Our sponsorship “undertaking” is in the processing queue. Once the Matching Centre has ensured all paperwork and requirements have been met, the Visa Office in Jordan will arrange travel for the family and send us notice of their pending arrival. We have been told to expect about 10 days’ lead time for their arrival in Calgary.
- Given the challenges of an unknown arrival time and perhaps a very short time to prepare permanent housing, we are still looking for temporary accommodation options. Please contact a NeST Team member if you have suggestions to offer that could be available on short notice.
- In lieu of the whole ‘village’ greeting the family in person upon their arrival we have begun collecting signs and good wishes for a small contingent of greeters to bring to the airport to represent the wider community. This is based on advice from other groups’ experiences of very exhausted travellers and long delays getting through customs at the airport. Our hope would be to arrange a larger welcoming celebration when the newcomers are better able to enjoy meeting everyone.
A few years ago, we dreamed a dream of our future buildings and property, imagining a community hub, a cultural centre brimming with activity. We saw St. Stephen’s not just as a place for church members, but for the neighbourhood, indeed, for the whole city. Our renovations opened the doors, and the people came—for music, for theatre, for art. This week’s Midtown Mosaic art show is the triumphant realization of our dream, crowned last year by the official visit of our mayor. Here, church members mingle with our citywide neighbours in a colourful testimony to the riches of community life, creating cultural circles of connection that move out beyond our congregation.
Meanwhile, another community meeting place was evolving, one that did not require hundreds of thousands of dollars in costly renovation. It began with our web site, designed to attract seekers and church members alike, where we posted past sermons and promoted upcoming events, and projected a people- friendly image of ourselves to the world. It remains our main vehicle for meeting people who are looking for a church.
But from nowhere, a cheeky upstart called Facebook surpassed our website as the principal way we now connect with the world. A post celebrating our recent blessing of a civil same-sex marriage attracted over 2000 views, as well as wildly supportive comments from people we don’t even know. We are not one community hub, but three: a street address, a website (ststephenscalgary.org), and a Facebook page (St. Stephen’s Anglican Church Calgary).
Heading into the fall season, what are the personal habits and disciplines that will keep you healthy? A good diet, exercise, mental stimulation, meaningful relationships, and of course a balanced approach to it all! St. Stephen’s can help you with your spiritual health, which has both inward and outward components.
Inwardly, we think of those practices that keep us rooted in God’s loving presence—like prayer, study, and meditation. Our meditation group will be starting up shortly for those who want to learn a simple practice of mindfulness. The labyrinth group is working on some special events this fall to introduce you to the benefits of a walking meditation. And our weekly adventure in Bible study stimulates your thinking about the Christian life.
Outwardly, we think of service, of ways we can contribute to the needs of others, and support our community life, both in church and in the neighbourhood. St. Stephen’s is exploring a new relationship with the Metro Alliance for the Common Good to identify and meet the city’s greatest needs. Our refugee committee is awaiting the arrival of our sponsored family from Syria. And cultural events such as the upcoming Midtown Mosaic Art Show help connect us with our neighbours.
All of this comes together in our worship, which offers many ways to become involved from choir to greeting to chancel work to the tech team. So pick up a copy of this year’s Spiritual Menu from the entrance foyer and choose your own new spiritual habits.
Kerri Singh, of Irish and Danish ancestry, was born and raised in southern Alberta. Married and with an eight year old son, she is the Founder and Photographer behind 2Create Photography, a childhood passion which she turned into a professional practise. Her clientele and commissions are global and with many noteworthy corporations and individuals, including Indian Royalty.
At her core Kerri Singh is truly a multifaceted artist. She uses the medium of photography to manifest her artistic expression. Early experimentations with the use of mixed media, watercolor, pastels, charcoals & drawing taught her that art has many detailed layers. She uses this knowledge with her photographic skills to create art, using the camera as her brush and the world as her inspiration.
In her quest to capture the beauty that she envisions in people, places and nature she has extensively travelled across Europe, Indian subcontinent and North America. The energy of a person or place and its emotional and spiritual vibrations are always important to her. Her work consists of balancing environmental portraiture and personal perspective. She captures the essence of her vision in documentary, theatrical or editorial styles then applies the metaphorical lens to create a spectacular memory, a moment in time.
She is currently working on art projects illustrating Women & Children of the streets in India, ‘Life in a Shopping Cart’ ( A documentary of homelessness in Canada) and Exotic Tastes of India.
She lives and works from Calgary, Canada. You can read more about her on her blog at www.kerrisingh.ca.