LOGO angelican
March 2015
Vol 21 Issue 29


Practicing Month to Month

Dear friends,


Many thanks to all of you who were able to join us for our annual meeting yesterday.  For those who missed it and are interested a copy of my 'charge' for 2015 is below.


With every blessing,






Many of you have been here long enough to know that on the Sunday of the annual meeting instead of a sermon per se it is my custom to deliver a charge. It's my chance to share with you where I think we need to go next. Where I think the spirit is calling us, where I'd like us to focus our energies and attention.


As I hope you know, last year we decided to focus our attention on stewardship. By golly, did we ever do a good job of that. Steve will give a financial report downstairs during the meeting but the short story is that it's good news. The combination of increased givings and rental income resulted in a surplus for 2014. Fantastic. But before you get too excited and dreaming up ways to spend the money the big picture is that we've been running deficits the past few years and so last year's surplus puts back, shall we say, the money we've drawn down since 2010.


The even better news is that we turned our attention to stewardship as a spiritual practice and asked all of you to prayerfully consider increasing your pledges to St. Laurence. So many of you did. Thank-you. For this first time in years we have an operating budget that allows us to operate. You pay me, we can pay MJ, and we can buy sandwiches and have the snow cleared and keep the lights on and all the fundamentals that keep this place going. Thank-you.


The final piece of good financial news is the debt. It looks as if the combination of pledges that have been made in 2015 for debt reduction, combined with the rental income we anticipate receiving this year, should be enough to pay off the renovation debt. All the remaining debt is debt we owe to ourselves at no interest for the rectory fund. Once we've paid that debt down we're going to have a debt free party. But enough about money. I've started with it today not because it is the most important thing but because we need to move on, take the next step on our journey.


 Today is the second Sunday of Lent and Lent is a season of Repentance. Do you know what repentance literally means? It means to turn around. And so, we, this Lent, this coming year, we are going to do a bit of a turn.   For we've done a lot of inward work these past few years. We've addressed tangibles such as building and budgets, and the three S's I spoke of in my annual report - staffing, Sunday School and stewardship. We've also addressed intangibles such as Christian formation, prayer and spiritual practice. Now that these things are, dare I say, in pretty good shape, it is time for us to more intentionally turn outward? Turn outward.


The gospel reading that is assigned for today could not be better.   "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it."


What we have built here at St. Laurence, cannot be for us. The building, the community, the love, the service, the worship, none of it is for us. It should always and everywhere be for God, for Christ, for the world.   We need to be prepared to give it all away, to lose any or all of it is that is not for God's glory, which is not, truly, about following Christ.

This coming year, I want us to turn outward. I am going to need your help in this. I so easily get sucked into institutional maintenance, in all the stuff that goes on inside this building with the people who are already here. And while I cannot and we cannot leave this behind it must be only the beginning. We must turn outward. We must look for the spirit alive and at work in the world. We just look for how the spirit is calling us to love and serve and be and journey in the world.


This past Tuesday MJ bless her, forwarded me a blog post entitled predictions about the Future Church by a pastor from north of Toronto called Carey Nieuwhof.


The good news is that Carey is convinced that the potential to gain is still greater than the potential to lose. Yes we are at a period in history of turmoil and yes there is a lot of cynicism about Christianity but, and I quote, the church will survive our missteps and whatever cultural trends happen around us. For the church was Christ's idea not ours and Christ has a pretty good track record of pulling Christians together to share his love for our broken world.


The sobering news, however, is that he predicts, and I'm sure he's right, that churches that love their model more than the mission will die. Churches that love their model more than their mission will die.


He reminds us of the changes going on in the music industry in the last few years. The mission is music. But the model is constantly shifting moving from things like 8 tracks, cassettes and CDs to MP3s and now streaming audio and video. Companies that show innovation around the mission are thriving whereas anyone too stuck on the old methods is long gone.


Churches need to learn from this. We too need to stay focused on the mission (which I understand as helping people love God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength and loving their neighbors as themselves). And be exceptionally innovative in our model.


Carey's other interesting prediction is that what he terms 'consumer' Christianity will die and a more selfless discipleship will emerge. Gone are the days when people are asking what's in it for me as, praise God, we rediscover the gospel message that, as we heard today, calls us to die to ourselves, to lose ourselves, for the sake of Christ.

He predicts that Sundays will become more about what we give that what we get. Or, as he puts it, in the future church being right will be less important than doing right. Churches will be outwardly focused on acts of justice and on the day to day practices of treating people with kindness and compassion.


Sounds pretty good. If this is truly what is coming how do we get onboard? As I read these predictions and thought about St. Laurence I was encouraged in my belief that what is next for St Laurence is a turning outward.     We need to be open to new ways of following our mission. New ways of spreading the good news, of inviting others to join us on the Christina journey of love of God and neighbor.


Next Sunday and for the remainder of Lent Elizabeth McLennan, rector's warden, and MJ are going to lead us through a process of discernment that will help us identify an area of concern in our world that we as a congregation can really sink out teeth and hands and hearts and minds into. I don't know what it will be but let's find an issue that we can educate ourselves about and make a real difference on. Issues such as homelessness, food security or water issues on native reserves, come to mind.


If other issues are running through your head or troubling your heart, we need to hear from you. We need to talk and listen to each other as we figure out what God wants us to do to help make our world a better place for all of God's creation.. There are a number of ways we are going to ask you to participate in this but the first step is for you to take the time to attend conversations after church the next few Sundays.  Closer to Easter, we will also give you updates using the monthly emails system.


But this process is only part of turning outward.

Turning outward means not slamming to door in God's face when seemingly ridiculous ideas of new babies or new journeys are presented. Turning outward means truly being willing to listen, to trust, to go where we never dreamed of going.


Turning outward means always making sure that there are multiple entry points into the congregation. Sure, we'd like some people to officially join, to pledge and attend and do all that good stuff. But turning outward means also being on the lookout for how we can connect with the so-called outside world in other ways.

 It is about making our building available and our worship accessible.

It is about visiting the sick, shut-in and lonely.

 It is about going out into the world and speaking truth to those in power.

 It is about working for justice.

BIt is about bringing love and compassion to those places where they are lacking.

It is about welcoming people into our faith community for however long it works for them, in whatever fashion it works for them.


Welcome to 2015 at St Laurence. Let's turn things around shall we. Celebrate all the good work we've done in here, so to say, but make sure we now get out there and seek to be God's people in God's world, followers of Christ not just in word but in action.


I preach to you in the name of Christ who calls us to lose our lives in order to find them.



March at St. Laurence

Sunday, March 1

10:00 am Eucharist. The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching. 


Annual General Meeting following the service


Light lunch will be served after the meeting.

Monday, March 2 

11:30 am Loretta's Lunch at Lemongrass Restaurant Glenbrook Plaza

7:30 pm John Philip Newell Book Study in Sunshine Room

Wednesday, March 4

10:00 am Craft Group in Sunshine Room


Thursday, March  5 

 9:30 am  Contemplative Prayer Service with Geri Urch

Saturday March 7

2:00 am Daylight Savings Time Begins 


Sunday, March 8

10:00 am Eucharistic.  Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching.

Conversations following the service with Elizabeth McLennan speaking on Social Justice


Monday, March 9

7:30 pm John Philip Newell Book Study in Sunshine Room


Wednesday March 11

11:30 am Larry's Grill Shillelagh Pub in West Market Square


Thursday, March 12

 9:30 am  Prayer Group with Stuart McKay


Sunday, March 15

10:00 am Eucharistic. 

The Rev. MJ Leewis-Kirk preaching and leading conversations following the service on Social Justice.

Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee will be at Holy Nativity

This is also Food Bank Sunday. Please remember to bring your donations.


Thursday, March 19 

 9:30 am  Contemplative Prayer Service with Geri Urch 


Sunday, March  22

10:00 am Eucharist. The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching. Conversations after the service with Elizabeth McLennan on Social Justice


Wednesday, March 25

7:30 pm at the Cathedral

The Rev. Carolyn Herold is being ordained to the priesthood.


Thursday, March 26

9:30 am Prayer Group with Stuart McKay


Sunday, March 29

10:00 am Palm Sunday

The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching. Conversations after the service with Elizabeth McLennan on Social Justice


Holy Week March 30 to April 4


Thursday April 2

6:30 pm Maundy Thursday Meal and Service


Friday, March 3

10:00 am Good Friday service beginning at St. Laurence and followed by optional walk to Lakeview United Church


Sunday, April 5

10:00 am Easter Sunday Eucharist. The Rev. Anna Greenwood-Lee preaching