(Read Henry Ossawa Tanner’s own interesting story by clicking here.)
We are now entering the final year of our three-year Capital Campaign for Our Church Home.
When we started this in the spring 2017, Ascension was facing a $98,000 roof repair. And then it got worse – both heat exchangers cracked at the same time, forcing us to shut them down immediately. And the bill to replace them, plus some associated work, was $25,000.
It seemed impossible that we would ever raise that kind of money.
But you responded with Spirit-filled generosity to God’s work in this place and in this community.
Mark tapped his musician friends and pulled together a benefit concert on extremely short notice. You went out and sold those $100 tickets with equal speed. You may also remember us having to hold a special vestry meeting only a few hours before the concert was to begin to meet the Diocese’s requirement to launch a major fundraising campaign.
That concert and a few early generous donations got the ball rolling with enough money to fix those heat exchangers. And the seven-week Capital Campaign for Our Church Home followed immediately to go about collecting the pledges needed for the rest of the work.
In the end, fundraising and pledges totalled $168,000, giving us a cushion of about $40,000 for other repairs that we know are coming up.
Phase 1 of the roof repair was done in the summer of 2017. We now have enough money in hand for Phase 2 this spring or summer, depending on when the roofer can fit us in.
We already know some of the work that must be done with the $40,000 cushion. The light bulbs in this sanctuary need to be replaced and we want to take that opportunity to switch to LED lighting not only in here but throughout the building because that will conserve energy and save on hydro bills.
We have to repair the siding – some of it for safety reasons and some of it for aesthetic reasons.
We also have to fix the drainage on the east side of the building.
In other words, even though the two most urgent projects are nearly done, your pledges are still very much needed.
We have said this many times before, but it bears keeping in mind. These repairs are not being done for the sake of the building itself. They are being done in order to shelter, protect and keep safe the programs and ministries that we do at Church of the Ascension and the people who attend them. Our stewardship of our building can never be separated from our love and service to God. With that in mind, let us finish strong in the final year of this campaign.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- I am grateful for the humour, the compassion, the generosity, the love and the friendship evident in so many ways here at Ascension.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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.