This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Contact Information” [June 24th, 2018]

Any data retrieval system is only good as the information it contains. So we are spending the summer updating our Parish List and the way we gather membership information.

Recently we have been faced with the inadequacies of our current parish data entry system. Newcomers have sometimes had to submit their information numerous times to be placed on the membership list, to receive offering envelopes (if they want them), and to begin receiving our weekly e-newsletter. Yes, Christian discipleship sometimes requires fortitude, and even tenacity—but how hard do we want to make it for people to sign up?

So we are addressing our “intake system” to make it more accessible, more streamlined, and more efficient. We are also taking this opportunity to update the information itself. So we are asking you to help us by filling in the Member Information form we are supplying in this week’s bulletin. The form will be available throughout the summer in the narthex, online Or, if you’d prefer, give us a call or drop us a line.

We need details. If you have several names, which one do you prefer, or do you prefer a nickname? Are there children under the age of 18 living in your home? What are their names and years of birth, so that we can more easily create a demographic profile of the congregation by age? If you have several email addresses and phone numbers, which ones do you prefer we use? Please help us … to help you.

This Week at St. Stephen’s: “Gardeners” [June 17th, 2018]

One definition of a vocation is: “where my passion meets the world’s need”. Well! Are there any passionate gardeners out there looking for a need? Are you looking for a great summer project that will engage your skills and make you feel good? Have we got an opportunity for you!

For years we at St. Stephen’s have been exploring ways to make our buildings more welcoming, accessible, and useful for the wider community. But our grounds! They are the face we show to the world. But what a neglected and forlorn face they are—an eyesore even! The grass is dry and patchy, the west garden derelict and overgrown, and there is not one inviting spot that bids pedestrians to come rest awhile. Our neighbours notice this. Last year one even offered to come over and water our lawn for us!

True, the Memorial Garden has now been professionally spruced up, with plants and embellishments soon to be added, and a stone marker, lit by night, will appear at the corner of our property, bearing the inscription, “THE CHURCH OF SAINT STEPHEN: Open Hearts. Open Minds.” But these improvements will only highlight the lack of care shown for the rest of our grounds.

So … is gardening your gift? Have you recently moved from a house to a condo or to an apartment and find yourself missing the great outdoors? Are you hankering for a chance to get your hands dirty? If you have the passion, we have the need!

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!