Outdoor Worship Service

The 10 a.m. service on Sunday, July 24th, will take place outdoors! Please bring a folding chair or something else comfortable to sit on. (Rain date: July 31st)

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COVID-19 Update

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Diocese of Huron has removed all COVID restrictions at this time. Each parish can now decide for themselves what restrictions are needed.

At Ascension, we are strongly encouraging everyone to remain masked while in the building, for the the benefit of your health and that of your neighbours. Worship leaders will continue to mask except when performing their function. This is especially important if you have symptoms such as cough or cold. We also strongly encourage everyone to get any vaccine that you are eligible for. Doing these two things will help everyone to stay as healthy as possible. We ask that you not comment on whether or not others choose to mask or not. This change is in place for the summer months; if there is a surge of disease in the fall, restrictions may be reinstated.

Coffee hour will be starting as soon as we have sufficient volunteers to run it. If you would like to help out with coffee hour, please contact Mary Grant.

Groups using the church may make their own decisions regarding what restrictions work for them.

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Community Breakfast pivots to broader Food Security Program

Update: As of July 19, 2022, the Community Breakfast has resumed in-person meals. Breakfasts are held on the third Tuesday of every month. Breakfasts are free. All are welcome.

The Community Breakfast at Church of the Ascension in London had for many years all the hallmarks of an effective ministry. It served almost 100 on average each month. It offered one of the few hot breakfasts among the meal programs in the city. And guests raved about the social atmosphere
And then came COVID-19.

“It was like immediate,” recalled Steve Holmes, one of the organizers – the shock still in his voice more than two years later.

The next breakfast was scheduled for only a few days after the pandemic was declared in March 2020 and the Diocese of Huron set down strict health protocols for meal programs. The breakfast went ahead, but organizers knew the “community” part of the breakfast had been lost to physical distancing and other safety measures.

Karen Robinson, another of the organizers, pointed out the obvious: “We still have to feed people.” And so began months of pivoting and pirouetting that has been so effective, it has completely changed the way the Ascension organizes its meal program. It has expanded to lunches and suppers over more weeks, while still hoping to bring back a truly community breakfast as soon as possible.

It now all comes under a new name: the Ascension Food Security Program.

The changes started in April 2020 when a small group of volunteers – few enough to allow physical distancing in the kitchen – made up 50 bagged lunches to be handed out at the church door. Each contained an egg salad or a cheese sandwich, a piece of fruit, a muffin, a boxed drink and a card that says “Lovingly prepared for you at Church of the Ascension”. But few people showed up at the door to pick them up.


Deb and Janice prepare muffins.

So the volunteers drove the remaining lunches to places where homeless people were known to gather in London, including a tent city that had sprung up at the fairgrounds and the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope shelter. That pattern has continued: a few picked up at the door and the rest delivered.

Soon the deliveries were expanded to My Sisters’ Place, a daytime drop-in shelter for women at risk, and Project Hope, a group of volunteers who go out to the streets and check on London’s homeless population.

Jerry, Karen, Deb, and Linda: Will that be cheese or egg salad?

In June 2020, Steve organized a drive-thru chicken dinner for church members and took the leftovers to the new Youth Opportunities Unlimited shelter near Ascension. Chatting with the head of their kitchen, Steve offered to provide them with bagged lunches, too.

Now the number of lunches was up to 75.

The essential ingredient for egg salad sandwich.

“It just kept getting bigger,” Steve said.

A bakery contract led to the next major leap for the program.

Cobbs Bakery had supplied several community programs with extra bread at the end of the day and East London community activist Nancy McSloy made some available to Ascension. Nancy needed to make a switch due to a health problem and so Ascension was referred to Stelmar Home Health & Mobility, which also operates a home for people living on Ontario Disability Support Program.

Steve finds a meat slicer can double as a bread slicer.

After some conversation with company staff, the Ascension group started supplying dinners to Stelmar residents at cost within the limited means of ODSP. Two weeks a month, they drop off three meals to each resident: a hot meal or casserole to consume that day and two others that can be set aside for other days – a submarine sandwich with homemade soup and a chicken pot pie or sometimes shepherd’s pie. The offerings are altered to avoid monotony.

The Ascension group currently operates with seven volunteers, but that number will need to more than double when the breakfast resumes.

The operation is so evolved, it can meet specific needs. For example, the people Project Hope reaches are better served with peanut butter and jam sandwiches rather than egg salad or cheese. On meal preparation days, Ascension’s parish hall looks a bit like a warehouse, sorted into tables for each agency served.

The financing of the program has evolved too.

Russ-Haul

Donations from Ascension members and the income from Stelmar help make the program self-sufficient.

Ascension’s incumbent, the Rev. Canon June Hough, lately pointed out to the volunteers there are some parishioners who could also use some food support but are too proud to ask for a free meal. Now the group is thinking of selling dinners at a low cost, but enough to generate a small excess that can be poured back into the ministry as it restarts the Community Breakfast.

When it’s all added up, Ascension’s program is now serving 225 to 230 meals a month – more than double the number who were helped by the breakfast alone.

Given the growth, the group decided in April to stop calling itself the Community Breakfast and take the broader name of the Food Security Program.

“It’s sad we have to do this,” Steve said, “but it’s amazing the difference it can make to get people on the path to a better life.”

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Collection for Daily Bread Food Bank

Let’s help the Daily Bread Food Bank fill needs over the summer.

There will be a collection for the food bank on Sunday, June 26. You can donate food items two ways:

  • You can place your donation in the Daily Bread bins in the Gathering Space anytime between now and June 26.
  • You can drop off your donation on a drive-thru on June 26 between 11:15 a.m. and 12 noon.

Wondering what to donate? These are the kinds of items Daily Bread is looking for:

  • Peanut butter and jams
  • Canned soup
  • Canned vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Canned fruits
  • Baby food
  • Rice
  • Canned meat or fish
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Personal care products, such as deodorants, toothpaste and toothbrushes, tampons and pads
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Appointments

The Executive Team is appointing two members of the congregation to help out with specialized duties at the church.

Philip Templeton is the Manager of IT, overseeing all technology and software used by the church.

Sandra Coulson is the Communications Coach, advising and assisting the church and its groups on their internal and external communications.

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All City Choir Concert

All City Choir, a London children’s choir sponsored by the Church of Ascension A-V Team, is thrilled to return to an in-person concert for Spring! We hope you can join us but there will be a virtual option for those not able to attend! Masks respectfully requested.

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Losses to the Ascension family

We have lost a former and a current member this week: Marianne Bouwmeester and Dora Bell, respectively. See the obituaries below.

https://lfpress.remembering.ca/obituary/marianne-bouwmeester-1084855441

https://lfpress.remembering.ca/obituary/dora-bell-1084838867

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Lenten Folders

Donations made through Lenten folders at Ascension this year will be directed to the Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund (PWRDF) to help Ukrainian refugees at their borders. Lenten folders are available on the “holiday tree” in the Gathering Space. You can also make a donation without a folder. Here is a recent update from PWRDF:

Since Russia began rolling its tanks into Ukraine on Feb. 24, donations to PWRDF have flooded in, with an overwhelming $266,500 being raised in just a few short weeks.

PWRDF responded quickly with $20,000 to an appeal from ACT Alliance, which co-ordinates Christian aid agencies worldwide, but soon after changed that amount to $150,000 to both ACT Alliance and HelpAge International. As donations continue to come in, PWRDF will be disbursing more funds to our partners on the ground who are able to put money to good use right away.

Work with the ACT Alliance is with fellow member Hungarian Interchurch Aid, which is supporting Ukrainians as they make the long journey from their homes to the Hungarian border. 

HelpAge International is an organization that supports vulnerable seniors all over the world. HelpAge is using its funds in Moldova, which has already welcomed 250,000 Ukrainian refugees, many of them seniors.  

Samuel Wood, head of humanitarian at HelpAge, visited one border crossing area and reported: “We saw a fairly large number of older people arriving, as well as some people with disabilities who were being assisted in their journey. … Some of them had an idea of where they wanted to go, but not all. Many were desperately lacking information and guidance. The thing that struck me the most was the incredible spirit of the Ukrainian people we met, and the sense of camaraderie. Despite all the hardships, the older women we spoke to were smiling and joking. It is amazing to see people be so resilient and able to make jokes in such a situation.”

To support PWRDF for Lent, you can use the daily 25-cent slots in the Lenten folder or you can insert a cheque or cash for $10 (25 cents x 40 days) in the folder. Or you can use any of the ways listed above under “Easter Services”.

To support PWRDF for Lent, you can use the daily 25-cent slots in the Lenten folder or you can insert a cheque or cash for $10 (25 cents x 40 days) in the folder. 

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Easter Services

For the 2022 services from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday (April 10-17), click here.

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