London priests launch pub-set podcast
In October 2018, a new podcast re-examining the role of faith and the place of church in society was launched in London, Ont., from an unlikely place.
The diocese of Huron’s Canon Kevin George, rector of St. Aidan’s, and the Rev. Rob Henderson, rector of the parish of Holy Trinity-St. Stephen’s Memorial, are behind “The Vicars’ Crossing.” The podcast features the two priests conversing about faith over a pint and is recorded in the top floor of a local pub.
George was moved to start the podcast “as a way of reaching out to the community beyond the walls of our church,” he says. He invited Henderson to join, and the two settled on the formula of casual conversation about the intersection between faith and the public square.
They approached Stephen Rogers, manager at Crossings Pub and Eatery and made a deal: Rogers would cover the cost of the recording equipment and provide a room in which to record, and in return, the pub would get recognition as a sponsor in every episode.
Each episode features a different guest, from best-selling author Michael Higgins to the diocese of Huron’s PWRDF representative Canon Greg Smith.
After the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., the podcasters invited Rabbi Debra Dressler on the show for a conversation about ways to come to one another’s aid in the midst of such crises.
To help with the technical aspects of the project, the two enlisted Iain Stevenson, a member of St. Aidan’s and a student at Central Secondary School. All the technical set-up, recording, editing and even the theme music is the work of the skilled 17-year-old.
The podcast is available on YouTube and Soundcloud, and at www.facebook.com/vicarscrossing<http://www.facebook.com/vicarscrossing.
—Huron Church News
Youth group strengthens interfaith ties with gingerbread
A youth group in the diocese of Ottawa used its annual fundraiser to donate to the families of victims of a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Penn.
On December 2, 2018, #Limitless, the youth group at St. James Manotick, Ont., hosted its eighth annual Advent Lunch and Gingerbread Church decorating event. The all-ages event features gingerbread churches—gingerbread houses topped with an ice cream cone “steeple” and pretzel cross.
This year proceeds were donated to families of victims of the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in October 2018.
As an additional demonstration of solidarity and friendship, one of the gingerbread houses was given as a gift of friendship to local synagogue Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad (Barrhaven Synagogue). The gingerbread synagogue, which was decorated with a sugar cookie Star of David, was given to mark the occasion of Hanukkah.
On the seventh day of Hanukkah, several #Limitless youth attended a service at Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad and presented the gingerbread creation.
“We often think things we do don’t matter; it’s the big gestures that matter. And in reality, it can be the small things we do for others, the time we take to build relationships that have the biggest impact on others,” says youth group leader Donna Rourke. “We made a difference to an entire faith community by making a Star of David out of cookie dough and attaching it to a decorated gingerbread house and bringing it to them; offering to their faith community a very small gift.”
Rabbi Menachem Blum, of Ottawa Torah Centre Chabad, invited local media to cover the story. In a message of thanks after the service, he wrote, “On behalf of our community I want to thank you once again for your heartwarming gift…It truly enhanced our Hanukkah celebration and we are grateful for your friendship.”
N.B. lay readers, volunteers lead a weekly hospital Sunday service
More than 20 years ago, lay readers from St. John the Evangelist Church in the parish of Douglas and Nashwaaksis, diocese of Fredericton, and volunteers began an interdenominational Sunday service at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, N.B.
It’s still going strong.
Every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. finds a small group of lay readers leading the service, and volunteers escorting patients from their rooms to the chapel—or if the crowd is too big, into a larger room—for a service of readings, music and a short sermon.
Some patients are one-timers, there only for a short stay in the hospital. Others have been there for months, waiting for a nursing-home bed. Typical attendance ranges between 12 and 20 patients.
“Patients enjoy it,” says Shirley Smith, who usually leads the service, which she has been a part of for at least 18 years. “Some of them may not fully understand what’s happening, but others listen very closely to the sermon. It gives us satisfaction that we’re helping others, but it’s helpful for us to be part of it, too. I think anyone can get fulfillment from helping others.”
The Rev. Paul Ranson says he’s blessed to have inherited such a ministry at his parish. “The human component our volunteers and lay readers have with patients is irreplaceable. It’s not just the service, but the interaction before and after that makes it special.”
The long-running ministry is in need of more volunteers, and hopes to find more lay readers and volunteers to bring patients from their rooms to the chapel and back again. Volunteers don’t have to be Anglican, and lay readers needn’t be from the parish of Douglas and Nashwaaksis.
—New Brunswick Anglican
Indigenous ministry fund established in Algoma
The diocese of Algoma has established an Indigenous Ministry Fund to be used as seed money for a ministry.
The fund was created after the diocese received a $78,000 refund from the federal government on the money it contributed toward the national Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. (The diocese’s contribution exceeded what was required of it under the Agreement.) Bishop of Algoma, Archbishop Anne Germond, invited the diocese to send in suggestions for use of the funds, and after discussion, the Indigenous Ministry Fund was established.
Congregations or ministries will be invited to apply for up to 50% of funding for their project or ministry through the fund.
In determining priorities, Germond says, she will give preference to grass roots ministries with support from a local congregation, community or ministry. She also says she anticipates utilizing interest only from the fund, amounting to approximately $3,000-$4,000 available to disburse each year.
Ministries must use the funds to further the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and link in the Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion. Consideration will be given to intergenerational ministries and events.
Congregations in the diocese of Algoma will also be encouraged to contribute to the Indigenous Ministry Fund so that it is ongoing.
Food bank ministry helps neighbours
St. Mary’s Anglican Church is reaching out to its neighbours in the Highlands neighbourhood of Edmonton, Alta., through a food bank program.
Every Tuesday morning, St. Mary’s receives as many as 50 hampers from Edmonton Food Bank for distribution.
Each month, the food bank serves more than 22,000 people, 40% of whom are children under age 18, through its hamper program. The majority of the food bank’s 44 hamper distribution depots are churches.
St. Mary’s food bank ministry was recently featured on the CBC Television program Our Edmonton, but it has been running for more than 15 years.
When Canada’s first food bank opened in Edmonton in 1981, St. Mary’s food bank depot co-ordinator Suzanne Brown admits that she, like many others, believed it was for “down-and-outers: people who don’t want to work, who are on welfare or drugs. I found out that’s not true.” She recalls one morning when she met an elderly woman at the door of St. Mary’s hall.
She had come to pick up a hamper but was too embarrassed to come inside. “Her husband was in a nursing home and she couldn’t afford to buy food.”
The Rev. Ruth Sesink Bott arrives around 9 a.m. on Tuesdays to put on a pot of coffee and create a welcoming space where people can enjoy a hot drink and, if they wish, to smudge. Recently, one Indigenous family told her they felt welcome the moment they walked through the door and smelled the aroma of sage.
“One of the hardest things about poverty is loneliness,” says Sesink Bott. “It prevents people from engaging in their community and often creates shame. We want people to know they are welcome here just as they are.”