October Parish family news

Dear St. Stephen’s church family,


Greetings in Christ on this crisp morning.
Thank you to those who have brought warm coats and winter wear to give away. We have had several people already who were able to benefit from this kindness. We continue to collect these until November 7th (please note: regular clothing is not being collected at this time).
This Sunday: Confirmation Class from 4-6. Please plan to attend! We will be making Good Shepherd’s Pie together to give away, and learning more about our faith.
And next Friday, November 3rd, Youth Group–see below!
On October 31st, Halloween, I will be at church to hand out candy and greet trick or treaters at the door of our church, providing a warm and safe presence in the church neighbourhood. If anybody wants to join me, you are welcome! There are not usually a lot of children, and I come from about 6-7:30.
The church celebrates the feast of All Saints and All Souls on November 1st and 2nd, days that remind us of that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us and are cheering us on. If you would like to remember a loved one who has died, please email their name to the church office and we will print their name on a small card to place beside a candle during our Sunday worship service on November 5th.  Each light reminds us of our vocation as children of God, to shine our light, as we follow Jesus, who is the light of the world: “Live clean innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights..” -Philippians 2:15
Did you know that you have a mailbox? At the top of the stairs, beside the sanctuary doors, there is a shelf of cubby holes. If you have mail, it will be in the box under the first letter of your last name–so my mail would be under B–for Bunce. Ted Markus, our envelope secretary, has prepared 3/4 statements for us, to help us keep track of our offerings. Please find your statement in your mailbox. If you would like yours to come to your home via snail mail, please let us know. Thank you to each person who gives to support the work of the church.
The Jingle Bell Bazaar is coming together! Thank you to those who were able to meet last week after church to discuss some of the details. If you are able to help out, please find the sign up sheets in the Mitchell Hall upstairs. We welcome baking, crafts, soup and white elephant items.  Do you have access to a bulletin board in your building or community centre? There will be posters for you to take on Sunday to help spread the word. Stay tuned for a craft and cooking bee in preparation for the sale, dates and times TBA. The Bazaar will take place on Saturday, November 18th from 10-2. Let’s make this a wonderful St. Stephen’s event.
It looks like we may be able to have Advent Horse and Wagon rides again this winter! The couple who own the horses have been in touch, and we are hoping to find a date that works! Pencil in Saturday, December 9th (date not confirmed yet!) for an Advent Afternoon, with Horse and Wagon rides, hot apple cider and an Advent Craft for families and children of all ages. This will be an outreach event, meant to nourish our church community while inviting others to “come and see.” If you are able to help with this event, please let me know. We will need volunteers to welcome and direct people, to serve hot drinks, to help with craft…Parish Visitors Meeting Tuesday, November 1st at 1:30 pm in the Mitchell Hall. If you are, or would like to be, a parish visitor, you are invited to this meeting. Visitors go in teams of 2, and spend time with parishioners and friends of our parish. Parish visiting is a wonderful opportunity to connect with others and build relationships in our church community. For more information please talk with me or Donna Neufeld.
Book Study News! Our next book selection is Christopher Hall’s A Different Way: Recentering the Christian life around Following Jesus. If you would like a copy, please let me know by November 1st and I will order for you (you are welcome to purchase your own if you prefer).
Beginning on November 16th, we will start a study on the gospel of Mark, alternating with a chapter of our new book once it arrives. We will meet on Thursdays at 1:30 in the Mitchell Hall.
Our church is home to many people and many activities. This is a blessing and how it should be! But we also need to be mindful of locking doors and not leaving valuables out when we are here together. On Tuesday, when I returned from the cemetery with the family, an individual had found their way into the church and was in the bathroom upstairs after everybody had left. She took my purse, which I had left out, thinking I would just be in the building for a short while. My purse was retrieved, and nothing stolen (a small miracle, and a long story). But I share this to remind us all to be careful, to lock doors, to keep valuables with  you (don’t leave car keys in your pockets). As we know, there are many people struggling, with addictions, poverty and lack of hope. Let us be aware and careful, and also compassionate and caring.
I woke up one Saturday morning and realized I could buy anything I wanted, and yet it wouldn’t fill a void within me that needed to be filled. I couldn’t describe that void at the time, but I now see that I needed to live for a purpose greater than my own security or happiness. When I had become a Christian fifteen years earlier, I did not have wealth, but I had a newfound relationship with Jesus. I’d had what I would call a Damascus road experience. And now I realized that all I wanted was the meaning and assurance of that close dependence on him again. I’d lost my first love. So I prayed to God and begged him for Jesus to be my first love again, and that I didn’t care what it took. I realized with a sinking feeling it would take everything.
-Clare Stober
In Christ, who is our all in all,
Rev. Amy <><
Sent with joy and hope in Christ,

The Rev. Amy