This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Pride” [June 10th, 2018]

We are in the process of registering for this year’s Pride Parade. Here in Calgary the annual event takes place on the Sunday of the Labour Day weekend—so this year, on September 2nd. We encourage our church members to march in the parade, if they are able to do so, or to offer support from the sidelines. Worship will end early that day to encourage people to do either.

St. Stephen’s has long stood for the full welcome and inclusion of people from across the spectrum of sexual orientation, believing that human diversity is a manifestation of God’s extravagant creativity, and that every creature is loved and cherished by its creator. This is reflected in our Mission Statement—“welcoming people of all ages, races, backgrounds, and sexual orientations”—and also in our current branding motto: “At St. Stephen’s you can BE REAL, you can BELONG, and you can BELIEVE IT.”

As we await authorization from the Pride Parade committee, the only question is: what do we put on our banner? Last year we marched under the banner that now appears above our main doors, which says, “Working toward marriage equality for everyone.” But that banner was large, unwieldy, and, while correct at the time, may now be out-dated. Are we still “working toward” marriage equality, or are we simply assuming it?

Parish Council will be discussing this at its June 24 meeting. So what are your thoughts? What should be the words … to accompany our brightly coloured rainbow?

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Summer Month Budget Crunch” [June 3rd, 2018]

As we make our summer plans, with thoughts of leisure and get-away vacations, it is vitally important that we don’t forget St. Stephen’s, even as we prepare to leave town. Our budget relies on a steady cash flow through the year to sustain our programs and ministries, and the summer months always present us with a challenge.

But there are more serious reasons not to neglect our financial obligations at this time of year. At the moment we rely on the diocese to afford our current staffing, which includes two full-time clergy. To break this reliance, and function more independently, we need to increase our income by approximately $2000 a month.

Needless to say, our present level of staffing is essential to ensure a smooth transition when our rector retires in 2019. Furthermore, we wish to function as independently as possible in relation to the diocese. So if you are able, not only to maintain your present support through the summer, but also to augment that, this would be enormously helpful.

The best solution to our church’s summer cash flow is for our members to sign up for pre-authorized payments, taken monthly, directly from your bank account. Please consider this option if you haven’t already.

But there’s also this. Before a road trip you stop to fill up your car. You don’t drive first and catch up later. Same with St. Stephen’s: don’t catch us up when you return; fill us up before you go. And have a great trip!

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Event Rentals” [May 27th, 2018]

Several years ago we at St. Stephen’s decided to regard our ageing buildings, not as a liability, but rather as a gift. That inspired us to raise almost $1.5 million to renovate our worship space and make our facilities more welcoming and accessible. It inspires us now to seek partners with whom we can develop the rest of our buildings—that is, as a gift, and not only for our use, but for that of the entire community. In fact, our buildings have become one of the chief ways we reach out to that community.

Currently our buildings host many community groups, from Guides to AA recovery groups, from community and condo associations to before and after school programs. Our ongoing renters include artists and not-for-profits, and our facilities are used for luncheons, workshops, receptions and meetings. The sanctuary is rented out for concerts, cultural events and workshops.

These rentals have become important ways for St. Stephen’s to become known in the wider community, and also for us to generate funds to support our parish life and programs. But we need your help to spread the word. So when one of the many concerts or programs offered at St. Stephen’s catches your interest, please plan to attend, and of course tell your friends and neighbours. And if a group or association you know of is looking for a venue for an event or meeting, please tell them about us. Gifts are meant to be shared. So help us, won’t you?

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Live … at YOUR place!” [May 20th, 2018]

Last week we had a successful house concert at St. Stephen’s—“Live at Steve’s Place”—featuring a barista, homemade desserts, and local musicians. We raised over $1200 for the Al Jbawi family, and had a lot of fun along the way. Now people are asking, “When’s the next one?”

So here’s a thought. Why don’t we have the next one at your place? That’s right, a house concert—with you as the hosts! Lynda Greuel, our event planner, has put together a detailed list of ideas and considerations, including the space you will need for the performers, how to set ticket prices, provisions for food and drink, and fundraising ideas. This is available in the narthex or here.

But think about it: your house, filled with friends, neighbours and family members, reclining around your back yard, or seated, crammed together, up the stairwell, all together to support a good cause, enjoying live music up close and personal, with you as the impresarios making it all happen.

And there’s no shortage of talent in this town, all itching for a place to perform where people are actually listening, and where they can try out new songs, or flog their most recent CD. If the event is a fundraiser you might get the artist to play for free, but provide them a place to sell their wares.

The church, in its infancy, met in people’s homes—life-changing events in small spaces. Maybe it’s time to return to our roots.

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “PWRDF” [May 13th, 2018]

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF or, simply, the Primate’s Fund) is not an organization committed to the relief and development of apes. It is, rather, our link to the developing world … and our blue outreach envelope for the month of May. It is named after the top prelate in our national church, our Primate (pronounced prī-mĕt).

The Primate’s World Relief Fund was started in 1959 following the 1958 Spring Hill mine disaster in Nova Scotia that took the lives of 75 miners. Canadians scrambled to collect and distribute funds for the families, and the Anglican Church recognized the need for an ongoing organization that could respond quickly and effectively when disaster struck.

It later added “and Development” to its title as the Fund recognized how often disaster is worsened when local communities are underdeveloped and, further, that development happens best when those communities name their needs and develop their own long-term solutions.

The Primate’s Fund distributed almost $10 million in aid in 2017, over half of that to needs here in Canada. Funds are raised entirely from individual and institutional donors, and not from the annual apportionment we pay the diocese—it is our personal donations that support this good work.

Heather Dumka is our PWRDF representative at St. Stephen’s. This year she is portraying the effectiveness of our support by way of goats—how many goats would a donation buy for a village in a developing country? Visit the site: www.PWRDF.org. It’s not monkey business.