It’s time for a ‘welcome back’ letter for those of you who have had chance to get away, and a ‘thank you for being here’ letter for those of us who have stayed around our beautiful city! As we are trying to keep communicating throughout the year, on the website, in the bulletin, and through announcements and discussions, we’re trying to keep these letters short, so I’ll get on with it!.
A busy summer
It has been an eventful few weeks, which began for me with a trip to Calgary in July for the Assembly – a joint meeting of ELCIC (The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) and the Anglican Church of Canada, which incorporated our own General Synod. There were, as always at a General Synod, some highs and lows, some disappointing political posturing, and some wonderful landmarks. Two highlights were a world first in the Anglican Church, Liturgies affirming gender journeys and non-binary identity (Pastoral-Liturgies-for-Gender-Transition-and-Affirmation-07.23.pdf (anglican.ca)) and an affirmation of Full Communion between Anglicans, Lutherans, and Moravians in North AmericaOne Flock, One Shepherd: Lutherans, Anglicans, and Moravians — Called to Walk Together in Full Communion (anglicanlutheran.ca)) The liturgies are beautiful and well written, fulfilling a very real need in our world, and the growing unity between our three traditions was a delight to he a part of. It was, in the end, an exausting, but ultimately hopeful Synod, with many members of our Diocese taking an increasing role in the leadership and Governance of the Anglican Church of Canada, and many good things came from our time gathered together in Calgary.
I also managed to take some time off following Synod and enjoyed meeting family in Albany and New York with Sabina. I am very grateful that John Thatamanil gave us the use of his apartment in Manhattan as he covered the services here at St John’s. Sadly John has now returned for the new academic year in New York, it was wonderful to have him sharing in ministry in person through the summer.
Not just looking back
We tried something a little different through the summer, a celtic-tinged informal service we called ‘Summer Soul’ – it has proven to be something a number of folk appreciate, and so we will be going ahead with such a service for the rest of the year and possibly beyond. Look out for details of the renamed ‘Sunday Soul’ sometime in September.
Also through the Fall we hope to start some new groups: Elderberries, reflections, stories, studies and sharing on aging and the spirituality of aging (I hope that seems an appropriate description – contact Karyn Leeman or Gillian Barlow for a clearer understanding); Soul Collectives with our Artist Advocate, Cornelia van Voorst, exploring Art and Spirituality as part of small group discussions; Explorations of Prayer – continuing some of the themes from our Lenten School of Prayer; The Social Justice and Social Action Group are also planning to ‘re-boot’ Reel Thought, a monthly ‘Movie with a point’ followed with a discussion, in the Denson Lounge. Alongside this we’re hoping to have some relaxed and fun gatherings – Trivia Night, anyone?
We will be kicking off our Fall regatherings with a Welcome Back Barbeque on Sunday 10th September following the 11am Eucharist – due to not having use of our Courtyard we are planning to squeeze ourselves into the Parish House and enjoy food and good company together!
Season of Creation, Stewardship, and more
The month of September is designated within Anglican, Lutheran and United Church communities (amongst others) as the Season of Creation – a time to remember the great gift of the world we are called to be stewards of. We will be marking this with some special liturgies, as well as during the week in our Daily Online Prayers. With the huge impacts of our climate emergency being made very clear in the extreme weather events, fires, flooding, drought, and more of this past summer, we are being called to engage with our own attitudes towards and stewardship of the earth.
October will see the theme of Stewardship of all that we have, and all that we are taking a central place in our worship, our teaching, and our talking. We will have guest preachers, including Bishop Anna, Dean Emerita Ansley, and Archdeacon Lon, presentations, and opportunities to reflect on the calling each one of us has to be faithful in our stewardship of our time, our gifts, and our finances. I invite you all to prayerfully engage with this process.
This, and all of our usual events and services mean that, as always, there won’t be a boring moment at St John’s! I continue to be excited by the life of this church and by all that we are doing – as well as all the possibilities for the future of our growing, living, loving, community. Thank you to all of you, and thank you to the staff, Wardens, Parish Council, and many volunteers who work so hard as we serve this community and the wider world together.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel,