Enter into new life – Rev. Canon June Hough, April 21, 2019 (Easter)

Looking out from empty tomb to empty crosses

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Jesus is going to disappoint – Rev. Canon June Hough, April 14, 2019

Jesus riding on a donkey over palm branches

© 2012 Shelly ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ . Licensed under CC-BY.

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Stewardship campaign: Building the body of Christ – March 17, 2019

This is the final Sunday of our six-week stewardship campaign for the financial commitment to the budget passed at the annual Vestry meeting in February.

If you have brought in your commitment card today, it can be placed on the collection plate, where it will be blessed along with other monetary gifts to the church. We hope all cards have come in this week, but if you have forgotten, next week is also possible.

Over the last several weeks, we have been uplifted to hear talks by members of our congregation and our community about the wonderful strengths of Ascension. We are a big hug to visitors, a strong community, a place for healing and joy, and a family – only better. We are grateful to God for the gifts we have in these areas.

We also have areas where we are fragile and must build and grow. If we are the body of Christ, these are our weak muscles that must be strengthened. We need those stronger muscles so that we can walk the challenging financial road we have ahead of us. We need those stronger muscles so that we have a greater number of us committed to the mission of Jesus Christ in East London. If we can leverage our strengths and live with gratitude to God and to one another, Ascension can continue to express our love and service to God far into the future.

 

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Stewardship campaign: Like a family – only better, March 10, 2019

Warden

This is the second last Sunday of our six-week stewardship campaign in support of the budget passed at the annual Vestry meeting earlier this month.

We ask that all of the commitment cards come in by next Sunday. They can be placed on the collection plate, where they will be blessed along with other monetary gifts to the church.

We want to stress that the commitment cards will be kept confidential. Only the envelope secretary, Sandra Colbert, will see them and always confidentiality is part of her job. She will provide data only, without any identification of donors, to other church leaders, particularly our treasurer, to do some analysis of the stewardship program.

The campaign’s theme of Gratitude causes us to remember that our gift to the church – in time, talent and treasure – is returning to God a small portion of the bounty that God has given us. In that exchange, the operations of this church are an expression of our love and service to God.

This is the final week for talks by people about what they are thankful for at this church. So today we welcome Diane Robinson to speak about her experience.

Diane Robinson, member, Church of the Ascension

When Sandra Coulson asked me to tell you why I am grateful for Ascension, my first thought was “Don’t get me started” as I was overwhelmed by the list of blessings I have received from my relationship with my family here at Ascension.

  1. That’s the first one: Ascension is like a family — only better. I get to see all of you more often than my own family, and have Sunday lunch with some of you on a regular basis. And it wouldn’t be family without mentioning the many children who have been baptized and grown up in our Sunday School during the past 17 years.
  2. It is here within this family that I met, got to know, fell in love with and said good-bye (for now) to the love of my life. Most of you were there through all of this, especially our wedding and later, Dave’s final celebration of life.
  3. I am grateful for the memories and the friendships that have grown out of this family, some going back over 40 years. I owe most of my house to people like Murray Trussler , who did so much to get it up to speed. In fact, Murray was the first Anglican I met after we moved back to London in the early 1970s.
  4. I am grateful to be part of this Ascension family that actively seeks out community needs and addresses them, such as the results of the ever-changing Holiday Tree in our Gathering Space, Undie Sunday, Fill the Purse project, prayer shawls, Monica House mother and baby needs, Daily Bread Food Bank, all-candidate meetings at election time, the free blood pressure clinic that is part of our Community Breakfast, the twice-weekly seniors’ exercise program and so many more
  5. We are a family that seems to run on food, and since I haven’t missed too many meals, that makes me grateful. Our monthly Community Breakfast and seniors’ lunch as well as our dinner never fail to garner compliments. But we also run on spiritual food. There is something  very comforting and supportive about sharing a meal around the altar with my Ascension family, a high point in my spiritual life. This makes me very grateful.
  6. I love belonging to a family that share what it has — whether it is our church space, our personal time, or talents or our prayers.
  7. I am grateful for the humour, the compassion, the generosity, the love and the friendship evident in so many ways here at Ascension.
  8. I am grateful for the varied programs and services as well as the musical and organizations talents that have produced dances, concerts and coffee houses held at Ascension over the years.
  9. I am certainly grateful for the spiritual leadership provided by our priest and associate clergy,  our music leaders as well as our students and occasional visiting clergy.

This is a condensed list of my gratitude for Ascension. I hope I have given you food for thought to create your own list of things you are grateful for at Ascension.

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The real Promised Land – Rev. Canon June Hough, March 10, 2019

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Stewardship campaign: My heart’s full – March 3, 2019

Warden

We have just a couple of weeks left in our six-week stewardship campaign and commitment cards continue to come in to support the budget passed at the annual Vestry meeting a month ago.

You may place these on the collection plate, where they will be blessed along with the other monetary gifts to the church. Please have all of them in by Sunday, March 17.

We have chosen the theme of Gratitude for this campaign. We are grateful for the ministries that you offer and the financial support you give to your church. And we are grateful to God for the many gifts he has given us. The operations of this church are an expression of our love and service to our God.

Today we hear from Deb Adams about what she appreciates about Ascension:

Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr

Deb Adams, member, Church of the Ascension

I’ve been a member of Ascension for six or seven years now, and if we haven’t met, you must be new, so welcome to Church of the Ascension.

My Anglican journey started many years ago when Sundays were a day of rest and we all joined together to worship. We actually wore our Sunday best to church. That’s where we began our foundation in faith. fellowship and serving. We learned the 10 Commandments, Lord’s Prayers, Apostles’ Creed, the whole stand-up, sit-down, kneel, stand to sing. And we learned of service to God, our neighbours and our community.

Like many, I strayed from the church after my confirmation — you know, jobs and all that. I went here and there; I went to a couple of different churches, on and off again. But my life took a big turn, and I landed here with my mother and my two brothers. I needed a lot of healing and where better to start that than with my faith, which has always given me strength.

Wow, the things I found when I got here! Woo-hoo! The amazing music of Mark Payne, so inspiring, the holiday choirs, the Quartet. I’ve always found that music was healing and uplifting. And so I got involved. So I’m grateful for all of you who take part to make a joyful noise here at Ascension and in my heart.

Then I listened to the spirited and often thought-provoking preaching of Rev. June, Rev. Jim, Fr. Bruce and Rev. Anne. You all regularly touch on topics and Scripture that hit home for me. I’ve found conversations always bring a smile and some thought. So I’m grateful for all of you. And I appreciate we open our doors and hearts to so many students and bring them along as well.

Then Vic Storey, bless his soul, he searched me out and invited me to join the group that serve at the altar because it was getting to be a bit much for him. So now I’m part of a great team and I’m particularly grateful for the families with their young people who have come up and served with us, and it gives me a chance to guide and encourage them, as Vic and Jerry Prosser and the others have done for me.

I could go on with every single person in this congregation, because everyone has a part in this wonderful family. Some small parts, some greater. Some leaders, some followers and assistants, who help in every way they can. I’ve reunited with old friends and made so many wonderful new friends here at Ascension.

Our outreach to the neighbourhood and the community like the breakfast — Karen and John have that in hand. And if you ever want to come out and feel the good feeling of sharing and giving to the community around us, you’ll have a good time, guaranteed. We have the Friendship Committee for the seniors, we do things like collecting for the food bank needs, we’ve got the Undie Sunday, the winter wear for those in need and schools, baby blankets from the Quilters for single mothers, the ACW doing what Anglican church women do so well — spreading God’s love and caring. Now we got Deidre and Linda, and Cecil before them, teaching our precious young ones, the faithful of tomorrow. We have craft shows and the concerts and the groups that use our facility. Those who step up to serve on council, the Executive, the A-V guys who make it so easy to follow along in the service.

To all of us who share the joy of belonging to a loving, caring community of faith, it shows.

After a busy week of being God’s hands in the broken world around us and trying to make a difference, I come to this place and see these smiles on the faces of you all, all you wonderful people of faith, as we worship. That’s my reset button and returns me to balance. My heart’s full.

And for all of this and so much more, I’m truly grateful.

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Stewardship Campaign: A Sense of Community – Feb. 24, 2019

Churchwarden

We continue today with our stewardship campaign in support of the budget passed at the annual Vestry meeting earlier this month.

We are asking for Commitment Cards to be returned by Sunday, March 17.They may be placed on the collection plate so that they can be blessed along with the other monetary gifts to the church.

We are asking that you fill out the total amount that you wish to give, not just the increase. Those who give by envelopes would likely check the “per week” box. Those who are on pre-authorized givings would check the “per month” box.

If you would like to change your pre-authorized givings, you can go to our church’s website and click the box on the right-hand side that mentions pre-authorized givings. You’ll be taken to instructions on how to make that change.

And if you would like to begin pre-authorized givings, please speak to our treasurer, Bill McKinstry, and he will help you through the process for arranging that with the Diocese.

As you probably know by now, the theme of this campaign is Gratitude. We are grateful for the ministries that you offer and the financial support you give to your church. And we are grateful to God for the many gifts he has given us. The operations of this church are an expression of our love and service to our God.

In that vein, we have asked some people to speak to us about why they are grateful that Ascension exists. Today, we’ll hear from John Cuddie.

John Cuddie, member, Church of the Ascension

Just over five years ago, Michelle Roberts, whom I worked with at the time, sold me a ticket to a Mark Payne concert. Mark was (and still is) amazing, but I also liked all the accessible parking and the accessible washroom. OK, some of us get excited about weird things.

So a few months later when I was looking for a new church, I came to try Church of the Ascension. I remember Donna Thompson coming right over to say hello and my life at Church of the Ascension began.

June talked last week about community.

Definition of community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

I am truly grateful for the sense of community I feel at this church.

As I look around the Sanctuary, I see so many friends in this community.

  • Betty White keeps my attendance records and approves any vacation.
  • I expressed an interest in Malta, and Joe and Kay Ellul brought me information about Malta. They are my travel agents.
  • Nancy, Jasmin, Brian, Steve, Lenora, and Karen are a few of many Community Breakfast friends.
  • Gwen and Sandra are my theatre critics.
  • Mary Holmes once gave me such a big hug we almost ended up on the ground.
  • Marg Trussler was looking for a walker and I lent her one of mine to test-drive.
  • And there’s the ongoing sparring between JW and JC — John White and John Cuddie.

I could go one, but I think you can feel my deep gratitude for this wonderful community.

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Stewardship Campaign: A Big Hug – Feb. 17, 2019

Churchwarden:

Last week, we launched the stewardship campaign for the operating expenses of our church, as outlined in the budget passed at the annual Vestry meeting earlier this month.

We continue to run the Capital Campaign for Our Church Home to pay for repairs and upgrades to the building. But this campaign focuses on everyday expenses such as salaries, programs, utilities, and our share of the expenses of the Diocese of Huron.

There are still packages to pick up in the Gathering Space. If you can deliver to someone near you, please take theirs as well. The remaining packages will be mailed out this week.

As you bring in your commitment cards, you may place them on the collection plate where they will be blessed, along with the other monetary gifts to the church. Please fill out the card with the total amount you plan to give, not just the increase. For those who donate weekly with their collection envelope, check the Per Week box; those who donate monthly through pre-authorized givings, click the Per Month box.

If you want to increase your pre-authorized givings, there is a form on our website in the sidebar on the right.

This is an important campaign, made more so by the fact that January was not a good start to the year. We’re approximately $2,000 short on envelope givings.

We have chosen the theme of Gratitude for this campaign. We are grateful for the ministries that you offer and the financial support you give to your church. And we are grateful to God for the many gifts he has given us. The operations of this church are an expression of our love and service to our God.

Over the next few weeks, you will hear short talks from people who are grateful that Church of the Ascension exists. Today we welcome Joyce Larsh, one of our close neighbours and a member of the Argyle Seniors. Thank you for coming today, Joyce.

Christopher Berry/Flickr

Joyce Larsh, Elder States Person, Argyle Seniors:

The Church of the Ascension is community.

The Church of the Ascension is family.

From the very first day I walked thru the front door, I felt welcomed, acceptance, kindness, understanding and that first person you meet has a smile, a hello and a come on in.

The Church of the Ascension is very busy connecting people in the Argyle area with various activities inside the church.

Just try and rent one of the several meeting spaces!!

May I invite those of you who only attend Sunday worship to volunteer and participate in at least 2 activities your church offers.

The Church of the Ascension is a very important part of the city of London.

The Church of the Ascension means a big hug to me.

The Church of the Ascension means sharing in the caring to me.

Thank you for this opportunity to tell you what your church means to me.

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Capital Campaign for Our Church Home – As We Wrap Up

This is officially the last day of the six-week Capital Campaign for Our Church Home. It has been an exciting time watching the thermometer rise up the edge of the Memorial Wall in the Gathering Space.

We are very happy to announce as of last Sunday, we had $115,500 in cash and pledges. This is 93 per cent of our roof repair needs and two-thirds of the way to our overall goal.

During this week, a team of messengers will be contacting and visiting anyone who has not submitted a pledge as of today. We are hopeful that between pledges coming in today and those that might come in from the visits, we will be in a strong position to keep a roof over the head of the work we do in God’s name. We will report back next week on the results.

Today is also a day of thanks for the generosity of the members of our church – not only financially but also with time and talent. You may have noticed some subtle hints of that as you came in today or went about your ministries connected with our worship service.

June is now going to lead in an exercise of thanks. Imagine yourself there.

 

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Capital Campaign for Our Church Home – Let Us Run With Perseverance

This is the second last Sunday of our six-week Capital Campaign for Our Church Home.

We now have a total of $84,000 in cash and pledges. This brings us two-thirds of the way toward our current repair needs of $125,000 and just shy of half-way to our overall goal of $175,000 for future repairs.
We hope to have most of the pledges in by next Sunday, but we will also pick up pledge envelopes from others during the following week. We know that people here love their church and the work we do in God’s service. We remain hopeful of reaching our goal.

We remember the words of Scripture: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

If you have volunteered to pick up pledge envelopes during the week of June 11-17 or would like to volunteer, we’re holding a short training session after the service today. You don’t have to make a sales pitch. You don’t have to review the donor’s pledge. You just have to know the basics of the campaign.

During this campaign, we have been emphasizing the link between the needed building repairs and the ministries and programs we offer.

This week we’re bringing back the monthly update on our church’s financial situation by Bill McKinstry, who is now our church treasurer. While the roof repair is obviously essential, we can’t forget that the regular financial needs to take care of the ministries we operate under the roof.
Good morning. I am glad to be back up here to share the good news of our financial journey.

Mary asked me a couple of weeks ago if I could start giving occasional financial updates and I said, “Sure, no problem.” May ended in the middle of the week so it would be easy to get everything processed before Sunday to make a report.

But then last Sunday happened and our computer system was infected with “ransomware”. It suddenly became way less easy to get prepared for today.

We thought our computer system was fairly safe and secure and for the most part it was. So instead of a catastrophic event, it became an irritating and work-creating event. But the attack showed where we needed to improve our security and storage of data and programs, and that is being implemented now.

I want to thank Philip Templeton and his associate Dan, Russ Braley and any others who work behind the scenes to keep our IT systems functioning so smoothly.

The timing was rather fortunate in that, for me at least, it provided a parallel experience to what we are experiencing right now.

Up until the end of March, we were going along just fine. We knew there were issues to be addressed but the urgency was not “code red” yet.

Then the heat exchanger exploded into our reality. We weren’t even close to being ready for this.

It is truly amazing how the members of this parish and our community and just everybody came together and ensured, through their generosity, that the repairs could be made immediately without having to borrow a cent!

And then the reaction to and support of the Capital Campaign have made it very clear to me that we have resources, that we have abundance, that we have commitment and that we have passion for this church and the work we do and the work we can do.

The successful Capital Campaign will be instrumental in ensuring that we have a facility in good shape to provide a home for all the programs and events we have and for all we plan to bring to fruition for many, many years to come.

But we cannot rest. Now is the time to look at what is happening under the roof.

After five months of 2017, income, including capital offerings, exceeds both 2016 and budget by $24,703.29 and $27,515.49 respectively. On the expense side of the ledger, we are performing beyond expectations. It is not that there are no blips, such as our gas costs that skyrocketed because of the leaking heat exchangers, but overall a really good first five months. If we keep going the way we are going, the deficit will be less than budgeted.

But to ensure the viability and the vitality of this parish, we need to begin moving to a balanced budget or, said another way, that we pay all our bills and meet all our obligations.

This doesn’t have to happen overnight, but we need to have a plan in place to achieve a balanced budget within 3 to 5 years and then maintain it going forward. And just like the Capital Campaign, there is a process and assistance available to make the journey easier.

It is not just about giving more, although that is certainly part of it, but about how to become more in a spiritual way, in a community way and to realize the abundance that surrounds and envelops us.

In September, there will be a lot more information coming to show how we can move forward to be financially healthy, robust and vibrant.

Because to me, brothers and sisters, it is so essential, after what has been accomplished to ensure the health and longevity of this building, that we maintain our integrity and our calling and our service as we have been charged to do.

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