This Week at St. Stephen’s–May 01, 2016

“FROM THE GROUND UP”

Feb 28Following the suspension of Calgary’s Inn From the Cold satellite program, where churches like St. Stephen’s offered food, shelter and hospitality to the homeless, many of us wondered how we might continue our work with those in need in our city. Serendipitously, a respected broad-based community organization has arisen in Calgary that may help us continue that good work, creating and sustaining a community that offers respect, equality and justice to all its citizens.

The Metro Alliance for the Common Good (MACG) is a new iteration of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), an alliance of faith-based and community organizations that transformed the inner city of Chicago (the “Industrial Areas”) in the 1940’s. It now operates in over sixty-five cities worldwide developing leadership, coordinating civic-minded organizations and galvanizing citizens to create local communities of which we can all feel proud.

The Calgary chapter of MACG is currently offering a series of three listening events where citizens gather to explore the areas of greatest need and concern in our city. (The second in the series is being held Monday, May 2, 7 – 8:30 pm, at Beth Tzedec Synagogue.) St. Stephen’s has been invited to participate and several of our members will be in attendance.

To help us become better acquainted with MACG and with the social demands of the Gospel, The Reverend Ryan Andersen, Lutheran minister and lead organizer of MACG Calgary, is our guest preacher at both services on May 1st. You can also visit the IAF and MACG websites online.

NEST: Waiting is the hardest part

unnamedWhat’s the most frustrating aspect in waiting to find a refugee family to take under our wings in Calgary?
Waiting.
On three occasions NeST,  the committee made up of members from the Calgary parishes of St. Stephen’s, St. Paul’s and the Cathedral, have bid for families on Ottawa’s approved list of Syrian refugees and on most occasions we missed the opportunity by minutes.
Sometimes seconds.
The good thing is, the competition among refugee sponsor groups across the country is stiff.
The bad thing is, Ottawa met its target and the lists of pre-screened Syrian families under the first federal government/United Nations program we were working under has grown very thin.
NeST team leaders met on April 3rd to consider their options and because our financial situation is healthy, the target shifted from a family of four to a family of six.  That will give us a better chance of finally securing a family.
NeST is also exploring another government program where private sponsors like us are matched with Syrian families in Canada who are trying to rescue their own relatives from the ravages of war.
If by June we find we’re still waiting for a family, NeST will reassess the situation.
The plight of Syrians opened our hearts to this ministry but there are other refugee families outside Syria we could consider and we’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
Meanwhile the silent auction in support of NeST  that was held at St.
Paul’s on April 9th raised a whopping $5,686.
In other news, the Cathedral and St. Stephen’s are working to ease the transition of refugees already here by offering English conversation support to people on waitlists for more formal English Language Learning (ELL) classes.
a) In June, St. Stephen’s will be running Beginning English
classes for three families on Tues and Thurs mornings, including free childcare and children’s lessons/activities. Contact is Dave Driftmier (daviddrift@shaw.ca).
b) The Cathedral hopes to offer ELL Café Conversations on
Wednesday and Saturday mornings from April 20th through to the end of June, possibly beyond. Contact is Joy Newman (jenewman@telusplanet.net).There are also ongoing volunteer opportunities available through the Centre for Newcomers (www.centrefornewcomers.ca) in N.E. Calgary.
In the meantime, please remember that old but never-tired line that patience is a virtue and the best things in life are worth waiting for.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 17, 2016

“Into the Fray”

Apr 17Last week our Primate, the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, spoke with the Anglican Journal about the most recent House of Bishops meeting held the first week of April. Specifically, he shared his concern for the aftermath of July’s General Synod meeting when it votes on an amendment to the marriage canon to permit same-gender marriages.

He acknowledged that very little has changed in the mindset of the House, despite all the work the bishops have done on this issue in recent years. So it remains split three ways: those in agreement with the motion, those opposed, and those who “struggle” with the issue. As the motion will require a two-thirds majority vote in each of the “houses”—clergy, laity and bishops—it remains unlikely that the motion will pass.

The Primate said that if the motion is defeated it will “upset” the LGBTQ community, which will be “deeply offended”. Many may leave the church. Moreover, he fears that clergy may take matters into their own hands and perform same-sex marriages as an act of “civil disobedience”, something he says every bishop must be prepared to deal with.

On the other hand, if the motion were to pass, the Primate foresees that there are clergy and congregations opposed to same-sex marriage who are also poised to leave the church. So either way, this is going to be a divisive vote.

In the meantime, how do we at St. Stephen’s continue to advocate for those we love whose relationships are being denied?

This Week at St. Stephen’s–April 17, 2016

“Into the Fray”

Apr 17Last week our Primate, the Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, spoke with the Anglican Journal about the most recent House of Bishops meeting held the first week of April. Specifically, he shared his concern for the aftermath of July’s General Synod meeting when it votes on an amendment to the marriage canon to permit same-gender marriages.

He acknowledged that very little has changed in the mindset of the House, despite all the work the bishops have done on this issue in recent years. So it remains split three ways: those in agreement with the motion, those opposed, and those who “struggle” with the issue. As the motion will require a two-thirds majority vote in each of the “houses”—clergy, laity and bishops—it remains unlikely that the motion will pass.

The Primate said that if the motion is defeated it will “upset” the LGBTQ community, which will be “deeply offended”. Many may leave the church. Moreover, he fears that clergy may take matters into their own hands and perform same-sex marriages as an act of “civil disobedience”, something he says every bishop must be prepared to deal with.

On the other hand, if the motion were to pass, the Primate foresees that there are clergy and congregations opposed to same-sex marriage who are also poised to leave the church. So either way, this is going to be a divisive vote.

In the meantime, how do we at St. Stephen’s continue to advocate for those we love whose relationships are being denied?