Annual Vestry Meeting

This is a heads up about our Vestry Meeting. Official announcements will begin Jan. 23, 2022.

The meeting will be a Zoom meeting, beginning at 11:30 am, February 6,2022. The Zoom invitation will be sent out two days before.

There are openings on Parish Council and the Executive Team for 2022 and anyone interested in serving their church in this ministry should contact Rev. June or the church office.

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A Change in Christmas services . . . and looking ahead

Due to the rapidly rising COVID-19 case count in London, the decision has been made to hold off on in-person worship services at Ascension until further notice as we wait for improvements in the COVID situation. This helps protect not only us at Ascension, but our whole community as well. Below you will find a pastoral letter from Rev. Canon June Hough. Here are the alternative plans:

On Christmas Eve at 7 p.m., Rev. Canon June Hough and other clergy and worship leaders will live-stream a service from the church on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A.

On Christmas Day by 10 a.m., Rev. Jim Garey will post a service from the fireside of his home on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3egcJvd.

On Sunday, December 26 at 10 a.m., the Christmas Eve service will be reposted on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A. As well, Rev. Jim will post a service from his home by 10 a.m. on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3egcJvd.

On Sundays at 10 a.m. until further notice, Rev. June will lead live-streamed services on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3FiSw3A.

Links to services can also be found on Ascension’s Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/102383728728.

A Message from Rev. Canon June Hough:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

I know many of us were feeling the joy of being able to come together to celebrate the birth of the One who brings light to the world only to find in-person worship has been suspended for a time once again. I share your disappointment and wish it was all different. The pastoral letter from The Rt. Rev. Susan Bell (Bishop of Niagara) helped give me some comfort and so I share this part with you.

“The extent of transmission in our communities has led many to urgently call for a set of new guidelines to act as a ‘circuit breaker’ to slow infection and buy time to ramp up vaccination efforts. We are doing our part to contribute to this effort even as we place our trust in God.

“We know the reality we are facing. We are in the midst of something dangerous and seismic – and the prudent and loving thing to do is to strive to protect us all – from the youngest who are as yet still unvaccinated and vulnerable, to the most senior who are similarly at risk.

“And so, we must lean into the core element of our faith – sacrificial love – and proactively become an online worshipping community once more, for a season . . . .

“Friends, this is a hard time. Nothing I can say can take that away. But I can echo the message of the angel Gabriel who reminded us not to fear but to trust in God’s promises. As a sign of God’s love, the Christ comes among us as one of us to walk this earth: to love us, to teach us, to heal us and ultimately to save us so that we might understand what God’s love is like and how through us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, it can transform this world. This is the incredible love we celebrate in the coming days.”

Beloved, we are still a Church, we may be scattered and apart physically but we are one in the Spirit of the Christ who is born this coming night. The Church has experienced this before in the past and been stronger for it as we reach to one another and celebrate in new ways. You are in my heart as we move forward and in my prayers. In the weeks ahead please let me know if you would like to receive communion in your home, and we will within the protocols set out strive to make that happen. Until then, the darkness has not overcome us and we are children of light . . . arise and shine! Peace, and Love, Rev. June

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Christmas Envelopes

If you wish to use special envelopes for a Christmas donation to Church of the Ascension, you can find them in the slot under the outside mailbox at the church’s main entrance or on the table in the Gathering Space where you sign in on Sundays.

You can also donate in any other kind of envelope, by e-transfer to office@ascensionlondon.com, or by mail to: Church of the Ascension, 2060 Dundas St., London, ON, N5V 1R2. Thank you for your support.

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Christmas Services

Here are the plans for Christmas services at Church of the Ascension this year. These plans may change due to COVID-19 public health measures. As always, masks and six feet of physical distancing are required.

CHRISTMAS EVE

We are planning for two in-person Christmas Eve services — at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The church will be aired out between services to reduce aerosol spread of COVID-19.

Please register to attend at office@ascensionlondon.com. Registration is open from Tuesday, December 7, at 9 a.m. to Wednesday, December 22, at 5 p.m. (Even if you have registered to attend regularly on Sundays, you will need to register separately for Christmas Eve.)

Register as soon as possible because seating will be assigned and it will be done on the basis of “first registered, first assigned seating”. Indicate which service you are attending. If you’re registering on behalf of several people, please include all their names.

Besides the Sanctuary, there will be seating in the Parish Hall and a few seats in the Gathering Space. The Parish Hall will be decorated and there will be an altar and clergy there. Using the whole church will provide room for about 100 people at each service.

These services will also be live-streamed on YouTube.

CHRISTMAS DAY

There will be an in-person service at 10 a.m. Registration is required, but because the attendance numbers are usually small, seating will not be assigned. (Even if you have registered to attend regularly on Sundays, you will need to register separately for Christmas Day.)

This service will not be live-streamed.

We hope to see you at one of these services to share in the joy of the birth of Christ.

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The Ascendants Studio Sessions

Normally at this time of year Church of the Ascension would be preparing to present our Ascendants fall show. This year things are different, so we have prepared a virtual concert, which we are calling “The Ascendants Studio Sessions.” It’s been a real adventure doing our concert in this new way, and we’re excited to present it to you on YouTube. Here’s a link to a brief sample clip to give you a taste of what’s to come.

The full concert will premiere on November 6 at 7 p.m. The link to the premiere is here. I hope you’ll watch and listen, and enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. Your donations will go towards the ministries of the Church of the Ascension, as we continue to serve the community and feed the hungry in these difficult times.

Happy listening.

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More Programs Restarting

Several church groups are starting up again, and that involves some COVID-19 safety measures.

The Ontario provincial vaccine mandate applies to all group meetings at churches. It does not apply to worship services. To attend group meetings in person, you will have to show proof you are fully vaccinated (that’s 14 days after the second dose) or have a written medical exemption – or be too young for a vaccine.

QUILTERS
There are some very happy quilters returning to quilt on Monday mornings at 10:00 a.m., starting Oct. 25. They’ll meet in the Parish Hall rather than the usual room to give themselves lots of room to physically distance. Bring your own lunch and beverage because we can’t serve food and drink inside yet. Bring your quilting pouch, and if you have any legs, clamps, rails etc that you have borrowed to quilt at home during the pandemic, please bring them as well. If you are interested, please contact Deb Adams at debmadams@yahoo.ca or 519-494-6055.

KNITTERS AND CROCHETERS
The knitters and crocheters are getting together again on Mondays at 10 a.m., starting Monday, Nov. 1, probably in the Gathering Space to give room for distancing. If you are interested, please contact Rev. June at junehough@rogers.com or 226-448-3790.

WEDNESDAY SERVICE AND BIBLE STUDY
Just a reminder that the Bible Study has been back in church for a few weeks now, on Wednesdays. It’s a 45-minute session starting at 10:15 a.m. The Wednesday morning service is also offered at 9:30 a.m. As outlined above, proof of vaccination is required for the Bible Study but not the worship service.

CHRISTMAS SHARE
It’s not yet Halloween or Remembrance Day, but it’s time to announce Christmas Share. This program, through the cathedral, helps those in need to have a Merry Christmas by providing them with gift cards so they have the dignity of buying the food and gifts they want for Christmas. Donations from Ascension for Christmas Share have stalled at just above $400 for the last several years. After the generosity you showed for the Lenten drive-thrus and Jabba-Dabba-Do, we think we can do better. Ascension has a Mission & Ministry fund. $1,000 of that is going to be used for Christmas Share this year. We encourage members of this church to match that. You can donate in your envelope, writing “Christmas Share” on the Special Offering line or by e-transfer to office@ascensionlondon.com or mail a cheque to the church at 2060 Dundas St., N5V 1R2. The deadline is Sunday, November 14, so that the church has time to process a cheque covering all donations and then deliver it to Christmas Share, and they have time to buy and distribute the gift cards.

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Annual Vestry Meeting, Feb. 14, 2021

Dear Ascension Parishioners

Like almost everything else during this COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Annual Vestry Meeting for Church of the Ascension will have to be conducted differently. The changes are made with the permission or direction of the Diocese of Huron.

The three formal announcements of the meeting will be made during the worship services that are live-streamed on YouTube on Sundays at 10 a.m.

Date

The meeting will be held on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 11 a.m.

How to Attend

Because the Executive Team doubts we will be able to hold in-person meetings by then, the meeting will be held on Zoom, with special arrangements for those who cannot use Zoom.

The Zoom invitation to attend was sent out by email or letter to all registered members of Ascension on Tuesday, Jan. 9, and will be sent by email again on Friday, Feb. 12.


Those who cannot use Zoom can use what is known as the Phone Buddy System, which is explained next.

The Phone Buddy System

The Phone Buddy System has been used at Parish Council meetings for those who can’t use Zoom and seems to work well.

Someone who attends by Zoom takes a phone call from someone who cannot use Zoom. The Zoom user sets their phone beside their computer or tablet and sets it to speaker mode so that the person on the phone can hear the proceedings and be heard if they wish to speak. (It may be necessary for the Zoom user to alert the chair that the phone caller wishes to speak.)

To make this work, we need to know:

• Who cannot use Zoom but would like to attend by phone

• Who among the Zoom users is willing to host a phone call from a non-Zoom user.

For either, contact Mary Grant, who will act as the Phone Buddy Matchmaker, at 519-268-8509 or mandjgrant3@gmail.com.

Voting at Vestry

Arrangements will be made during the meeting to give everyone an opportunity to vote on matters.

Vestry Reports

The 2020 Vestry Report will be sent by email to all those for whom the church has an email.

If you don’t have email, or would prefer a printed copy, contact the office at 519-451-7780 or office@ascensionlondon.com by Monday, Feb. 1. As printing is expensive and there is some risk in delivering print copies, we ask that as many as possible use the emailed copy.

Sincerely,

Rev. Canon June Hough

Churchwarden Russ Braley and Mary Grant

Deputy Churchwarden Sandra Coulson and Steve Holmes

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Rev. June’s Christmas letter 2020

Merry Christmas!

The outside air is crisp and cold reminding us that no matter what happens creation still follows the dance the seasons play in the cycle – from the new life quickening in spring, the lush abundance of life in summer, the slow movement of autumn that leads to the blanket of winter drawing life into a time of nurturing rest. It has been a long year of waiting and wondering and weariness. This will be a different Christmas for so many. As part of my daily meditations I have been reading Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico. These meditations have been a life-giving inspiration during this time. So, I offer you this mediation on the Nativity. In a quiet moment, take time to read it, as well as the question and prayer that follows it. It will be a difficult holiday; hope is the promise of Christmas; new life is waiting to be born into all of our lives; birthing times are always challenging. We pray for determination, patience and strength. Until then it is a good time to nurture our souls, reach out and pray for each other. Blessings to all of you…Rev. June

Giving Birth to Christ

[Richard writes…] My dear friend Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I. reminds us that giving birth spiritually is a dynamic and creative process. To bring Christ into the world involves an ongoing commitment to growth, to discomfort, to love, and to surrender. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is God’s invitation to all of us.

Looking at how Mary gave birth to Christ, we see that it’s not something that’s done in an instant. Faith, like biology, also relies on a process that has a number of distinct, organic moments. What are these moments? What is the process by which we give birth to faith in the world?

First, like Mary, we need to get pregnant by the Holy Spirit. We need to let the word take such root in us that it begins to become part of our actual flesh.
Then, like any woman who’s pregnant, we have to lovingly gestate, nurture, and protect what is growing inside us until it’s sufficiently strong so that it can live on its own, outside us. . . .

Eventually, of course, we must give birth. . . .

Birth, however, is only the beginnings of motherhood. Mary gave birth to a baby, but she had to spend years nurturing, coaxing, and cajoling that infant into adulthood. The infant in the crib at Bethlehem is not yet the Christ who preaches, heals, and dies for us. . . .

Finally, motherhood has still one more phase. As her child grows, matures, and takes on a personality and destiny of its own, the mother, at a point, must ponder (as Mary did). She must let herself be painfully stretched in understanding, in not knowing, in carrying tension, in letting go. She must set free to be itself something that was once so fiercely hers. The pains of childbirth are often gentle compared to this second wrenching.

All of this is what Mary went through to give Christ to the world: Pregnancy by the Holy Spirit; gestation of that into a child inside of her; excruciating pain in birthing that to the outside; nurturing that new life into adulthood; and pondering, painfully letting go so that this new life can be its own, not hers. . . .

Our task too is to give birth to Christ. Mary is the paradigm for doing that. From her we get the pattern: Let the word of God take root and make you pregnant; gestate that by giving it the nourishing sustenance of your own life; submit to the pain that is demanded for it to be born to the outside; then spend years coaxing it from infancy to adulthood; and finally, during and after all of this, do some pondering, accept the pain of not understanding and of letting go.

Christmas isn’t automatic; it can’t be taken for granted. It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world.

Gateway to Action & Contemplation:

What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?

Prayer for Our Community:

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

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Bishop Todd Townshend on racism and Doctrine of Discovery – June 14, 2020

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“Our own house is not in order”: Bishops issue statement on confronting racism

Click to access Statement-on-Racism-R2.pdf

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