This Week – November 07, 2010

Our “Learning to Breathe” meditation group was blessed to welcome a new friend this week. Julie Kirkpatrick, a recently published Ontario lawyer, intrigued and inspired us by reading from her book: “The Camino Letters – 26 Tasks on the Way to Finisterre”.

Walking “the Camino” for 26 days allowed her some emotional healing and spiritual questing, while managing the physical challenge of 25-30 kilometers a day. Inspired by 26 friends, each of whom she asked to assign her a daily task, her letters in reply comprise the chapters of the book.

“PASO POR PASO” – step by step – was her mantra. As she shared her story, we understood the commonality with all of us doing spiritual work, even in a day-to-day context. While the spiritual journey sometimes belies language, there is great power in sharing the story.

Weekly, we gather to worship, listening to and sharing many words and stories. Yet, while we all know the ‘paso por paso’ of life, how often do we stay silent about the amazing moments of grace and joy on the journey?

What is found on the journey is truly discovered when we trust to share. This week ahead, trust to share a moment of joy or struggle with someone, and listen to his or hers. There is surely a reason, larger than all of us, why we are the community of St. Stephens in this time and place.

Who knows where seeds go when the wind blows?


This Week – October 31, 2010

The electronic world is lightning quick … once you’re in it. But there’s the rub!

We at St. Stephen’s are trying to move into the electronic age: less paper, more immediacy, better interactivity. We are doing this by focusing increasingly on our web site and using that as our hub, as the “go to” place for everything we might want to know but were uncertain whom to ask.

The vision is that, arriving at the site, we are presented with a plethora of interesting articles, announcements of upcoming events, information about programs and ministries, photographs of recent events, schedules and information for committees and working groups … plus a way of talking back in forums and blogs reflecting the vibrant life of the parish.

The problem is getting there. Recently, reasoning that people still wanted a paper version of The Carillon, our newsletter, we ended up neglecting the web site while producing that version, undermining our own intent to get people to visit us online.

So from now on, all new information—articles of interest, details of upcoming events, everything—will be posted on the web site. Then, three or four times a year, we will gather up all the information that seems relevant and produce a limited newsletter to be sent to shut-ins and those without internet access, as well as placing copies in the foyer for visitors.

So visit us online. Find us on Face Book. Make us your home page: We’ll see you in the future!


This Week – October 24, 2010

This week we took several steps in our “Open Doors” project, our vision for the renewal of St. Stephen’s’ buildings and property. We have appointed co-chairs for the campaign and made spending estimates on Phase I of the development.

Until now, “Open Doors” has been managed by our Building and Property Action Group (BRAG). This hard-working committee has studied the need, articulated the vision, and tested the waters, resulting in a two-phased approach to redevelopment. Phase I consists of upgraded electrical and mechanical services, improved worship space, new washrooms, and an elevator opening to all three floors of our main buildings. BRAG is now working on realistic estimates of costs and time lines that will deliver a finished renovation in 2012.

But the other major part of this project, which must now develop alongside the ongoing work of BRAG, is the capital campaign. The challenge is daunting, but feasible: raising the $1.1 million necessary for Phase I.

We are pleased to announce that Jack and Heather Walker have accepted the invitation to lead us in this campaign as our co-chairs. Jack and Heather are well-known members of our parish, Jack as a former churchwarden and our current treasurer, Heather as a former member of Vestry, an advocate for Christian education, and currently our Book-of-the-Month Club coordinator.

Jack and Heather are now assembling a team of leaders to assist in the various phases of the campaign, which will be given its official launch in the New Year. We are well served!


This Week – November 21, 2010

Programs do not inspire people. People inspire people. So it is no surprise that at the heart of our two most popular programs are two inspirational people. And they’re both about to retire!

For five years Lynda Greuel has coordinated our “Excellent Adventure” Sunday School program. Lynda came on board just as we were introducing Workshop Rotation, a way of teaching the same lesson from the Bible in three or four different ways using film, crafts, cooking, storytelling … and having church members volunteer to lead the activity they liked best.

Such a program is effective as a teaching tool, but complex in the organizational stages. Lynda has been nothing short of masterful in laying out the lessons, gathering the resources, equipping the teachers, and most of all inspiring church members to step forward and spend quality time with the children of the parish. As she prepares to return to the work-a-day world she leaves us an amazingly successful program and difficult shoes to fill.

Allison O’Neil joined us earlier in the year as our Nursery Coordinator at a time when we were experiencing a baby boom! Her deep compassion, her commitment to quality child care, and her reassuring Sunday presence have provided young families the support they need to be part of our church family. As she devotes more time to her own family, Allison gives us an example of how to do it right.

Now it’s our turn. Who will step forward to inspire us? Is it you?


This Week – October 17, 2010

It’s that time of year when—already!—we are preparing the ground for next year’s budget. Boring stuff? Not so! A budget is only the last stage of a process that begins when we ask: Where is God calling us in this next year? What is the unfolding vision of our mission and ministry? What resources are needed to fulfil this vision?

Vestry addressed the issue at its meeting earlier in the week. Considering the ambitious “Open Doors” capital campaign we are launching, and the continual growth of our membership, Vestry felt that our focus for 2011 needs to be on strengthening our core.

This means a variety of things. For one, it means providing opportunities for our members to get to know one another and deepen our bonds of fellowship. It also means making the connection between the redevelopment we are planning and the overall mission to which we are called, namely, working to include our ageing buildings as part of our mission rather than resenting them as a costly distraction.

In short, while we extend our “reach” through the “Open Doors” campaign, our budget needs to support our “roots”, reinforcing the basics of who we are called by God to be in the first place, and what we are called by God to do.

The numbers will follow in due course, but when they do they will reflect this vision. Watch for our fall stewardship package and its invitation for all to support our 2011 budget. Exciting stuff!