WE WORK TOGETHER
Leadership of a parish church in the Anglican tradition is an exercise in negotiation. Unlike the Catholic Church where “Father knows best”, and the Protestant tradition where the majority rules, we bring clergy and lay people to the table in an equal partnership that strives to be respectful of each other’s area of expertise. The congregation cannot change basic Christian theology, for instance, and clergy cannot commit the congregation to enormous expenditures. The two must work together.
At St. Stephen’s the executive oversight of the parish is shared by the members of “Corporation”—so-called because they form the legal entity of the parish. The Corporation comprises two churchwardens—one elected by the congregation, the other appointed by the Rector—and the Rector. Together they oversee the parish’s program life, its financial stability, and the maintenance of its buildings and property.
The Parish Council meets monthly to advise Corporation about the overall life and health of the congregation. It is Parish Council where strategies may be devised to better engage newcomers or to plan a Stewardship campaign. But Parish Council also receives the reports of the Rector and Corporation, thereby providing a platform for their accountability to the congregation.
In a week’s time, at our Annual General Meeting, we will be welcoming Mary Lou Flood as our new People’s Warden (elected as a deputy at last year’s meeting), appointing Louise Redmond as our new Rector’s Warden, and electing three new members to Parish Council. We ask God to guide our deliberations.
TRAVEL WELL, SALLY
This week we mourn the passing of Sally Sherritt, long-time and beloved member of St. Stephen’s. Sally was uniquely herself, some might even say a bit of a character. She was quick-witted, sharp-tongued, open-hearted, and tirelessly interested in the lives of those around her.
We knew her for years as our church secretary, working with both Errol Shilliday and Bob Purdy. She fostered a sense of community in everything she did, creating deep bonds of friendship among the staff and volunteers of the church. Twenty-eight years ago her son Michael, an immigration lawyer here in Calgary, introduced her to Eduardo Rodriguez, who had recently arrived from Peru and was looking to start a career in his new country. Sally brought him to St. Stephen’s as caretaker … where he works to this day.
Sally loved to talk and loved to laugh, and she laughed often. In her last days, even in the midst of a deepening dementia, she engaged visitors at her bedside with humour and grace, sharing jokes that sometimes only she was getting!
We would like to think that Sally typifies what happens at healthy churches. People get to be themselves, appreciated and enjoyed for precisely who they are. We laugh and we cry with one another, we work with one another, and then we grieve one another’s passing.
Travel well, Sally, into this next part of your journey. We should be half so free to be ourselves, and so to be loved within the Body of Christ.
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“HOUSE” INTO A “HOME”
People build buildings. We shape them to reflect our needs, our aspirations, and our aesthetics. But buildings in turn shape us. We are finding this already with our newly renovated space.
In ways we could not anticipate while drawing up the plans, St. Stephen’s is becoming a more participatory place. Our new sound and lighting systems demand a level of expertise with which we are unfamiliar. So we are training a Tech Team to monitor the sound and lights on a Sunday, and we are making provision for a technical support person to be part of any rental agreement that uses our sanctuary as a performance stage.
We are also drawing upon a team effort for the weekly removal of our chairs so the public can gain access to our new labyrinth during the week. We are calling this group “Movers & Shakers” and it will be organized in weekly teams to place the chairs for worship and then stack them again afterward. The group will also be called upon when the chairs are needed during the week for special services and events.
We are also planning a Saturday workshop to help us turn our “house” into a “home”. Under the leadership of creative consultant Keri Wehlander, we will be considering how we decorate our new space, how we organize it, and how we offer it to others.
So our new building is re-shaping us. We are becoming a more active, more engaged, and more intentional congregation as a result.
IT’S BUDGET TIME AGAIN
It’s budget time again, which is always tricky. As a faith community we want to be open to the Spirit, to new possibilities, and to those little miracles that enable us to do things we didn’t think we would be able to do. But as fiduciary planners with the responsibility of managing the funds you have entrusted to us, we want to be realistic and sober in our projections. Too much risk and we could be paying for our miscalculation for years to come; too little risk and we could choke off the very hopes and dreams that give the church its vitality.
We are fortunate to have excellent churchwardens, Dariel Bateman and Neil Miller, who are working diligently to find this balance. We are even more fortunate to have Jack Walker as treasurer, who knows his way around investments and financial planning and who helps us all feel more confident when it comes to making our financial plans and projections for the coming year.
Behind our churchwardens and treasurer we also have helpers who count the weekly collection (the Sidespeople), deposit it (Peter Nettleton), track the donations by identifiable givers (Jean Springer), keep the books up to date and in good order (Janis Fenwick), and pay the bills (Lynn McKeown). And behind them we have … you the givers! Your pledged intentions (especially your use of pre-authorized debit) give us a base line from which to start. And your generosity, in its many forms, opens doors to new possibility!
One of the deep privileges of life in a faith community is the support we offer one another through difficult times. When the vulnerability of one who is suffering is met by the sincere care of the community it feels like “holy ground” and we are all transformed.
As we continue to pray for those who are sick, or troubled by life’s circumstances, or bereaved, in coming weeks we will be adding to our prayer list our Assistant Curate Clara King. Two years ago Clara broke her leg in a skiing accident. But the healing was sporadic and in the end incomplete. So this week she will be undergoing surgery to have a bone graft. This will mean at least a month of convalescence and physiotherapy during which time we will be upholding her in our prayers.
This is one of those instances that serves to remind us that in the Body of Christ we are all “ministers”, a fact that is underlined in the Anglican Church by referring to our clergy according to their designated callings as deacons, priests and bishops instead of the generic term “minister”. Ministry flows in all directions among the baptized, including the care we give to our caregivers … in this case Clara.
At St. Stephen’s we maintain two prayer lists: a confidential Prayer Chain and our public Sunday Prayers for Those in Need. Contact the clergy to add names to the Prayer Chain; or the office to add names to our Sunday Prayers.