The Christmas party buzzkill? – Rev. Canon June Hough, Dec. 16, 2018

Photo by “Mrs. Gemstone”/Flickr

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God comes to the ordinary – Rev. Canon June Hough, Dec. 9, 2018

photo by Sandra Coulson

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Reclaiming the word “king” – Rev. Canon June Hough

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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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Capital Campaign for Our Church Home – No more leaks!

It’s Week 4 of the Capital Campaign for Our Church Home and pledges continue to come in. We have now hit the milestone of $75,000. We’re very pleased with the response and our goal is in sight.

We continue to seek volunteers to pick up pledge envelopes during the week after June 11 from those who have not brought them into church by then. 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. See me (Deb) to volunteer. We’re going to hold a short training session next Sunday, June 4, after each service for everyone who volunteers.
As we’ve been saying throughout the campaign, the repairs aren’t being done for the sake of the building, but to shelter and keep safe the ministries of the church. Our stewardship of our building is directly related to our love and service to God.

This week we’ll talk about the repairs over the central part of the building: the Family Room, the Gathering Space, the offices, and the Sacristy. The good news here is that much of this work, although not all of it, is funded now, thanks to early contributions to the campaign.

The condenser fans and motors have been replaced. This means we can now have air conditioning in the Gathering Space.

The parts are on order for replacement of the heat exchangers in the two rooftop units over the Family Room. We expect that work can begin around the second or third week of June, most likely after the Bishop’s Barbecue on the 12th. It will take approximately two days to replace the heat exchangers and another four days to re-insulate the duct work.

We expect this will resolve the ongoing leak in the Family Room.

Meanwhile in the tower over the office, there is a small fish pond because the drain pipe opening is higher than the surface. That will also need to be fixed.
Now Audrey Bullerwell is going to speak about one of our ministries that take place in this area of the building.

When I was asked a few days ago “What does the Family Room mean to you?”, it took a while to sink in. It is a room that is very convenient and is maybe taken for granted.

It is used for family gatherings at funerals, weddings and baptisms; for preparation for concerts and choirs; and for caregivers with small children who may want to use it during services.

The one use dear to my heart is the Wednesday morning Bible Study. After a short Eucharist Service we meet in the Family Room for our Bible Study.

First we have a short time talking about personal concerns, community events, and what is going on at our church. We may often get off topic but we are still exploring the Word, and how it affects our everyday life. We often get the help we need to overcome difficult and challenging situations.

When the members were asked why they come each week and what they enjoy about the study, the answers were all much the same: It’s a joy and comfort being together, exploring the Bible and getting a wealth of information from our spiritual leaders. It is just amazing how our word can change the whole story.

It’s not a structured Bible Study, and yes we do go off topic but still exploring the Word. Another reason was to better understand the readings and Gospel lessons and how it leads to the Homily and everything blending together.

This little room has shared many quiet moments; people slipping in for a short rest on Tuesday Mornings during breakfast or during our seniors’ gatherings when things may get a little overwhelming, and yes, maybe for a little lie down. It is there for everyone – a small comfortable. cosy place. Let’s keep enjoying it and give thanks.



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Capital Campaign for Our Church Home – Flash(ing) in the Pan

We are now at the third Sunday of the Capital Campaign for Our Church Home and pledges have already started to come.

With the pledges that came in last week plus previous money, mainly from Mark’s concert, we now have pledges and cash of $67,500.

This is really exciting news. It brings us just over half way to the cost of the roof repair and just short of 40% of the way to our total campaign goal. This is an excellent start.

To address some questions that have come up:

  1. You can start paying your pledge any time now. You don’t have to wait for the end of the campaign on June 11.
  2. If you’re going to be paying through your envelope, put the amount on the Special Offering line and write in “Capital Campaign” so that the counters know where to designate the money.
  3. If you are going to pay by pre-authorized givings and you want to keep track of that separately from your regular PA givings, you can request the diocese to take the capital campaign money out on a different date.
  4. We will accept pledges from anyone, even those outside the church. So if your rich Aunt Matilda would like to make a donation, we would be happy and grateful to receive it.

We are continuing to seek volunteers to pick up pledge envelopes on the week of June 11-17 for people haven’t brought them in by that Sunday. You won’t have to make a sales pitch. You won’t have to review the donor’s pledge. Just know the basics of the campaign as outlined in your package. You’ll get a list of parishioners to call and a week to go out and pick up the envelopes. We need about 15 volunteers to make sure it’s a light load for everyone. If you can help, please see Deb Adams.

We have been emphasizing that these repairs are not being done for the sake of the building itself. They are being done in order to shelter and keep safe the ministries of the church. Our stewardship of our building can’t be separated from our love and service to God.

Each week of the campaign, we’re going to spend a couple of minutes during this time to explain some of the repairs that are needed and then hear about a ministry connected to that area of the building. This week I’m going to review the work that needs to be done directly over where we’re sitting today.

This is the newer part of the roof so there’s less work to be done here, but still there’s work to be done

The granular protection is wearing away, leaving the sublayer exposed to harmful UV rays, and damaging the flashing and overlap seam where the two slopes come together.

There are several spots where sealant and caulking have become brittle or weren’t applied properly. This could allow water to get in and damage the insulation under the roof.

In another place where vertical and horizontal surfaces meet, a 90-degree flashing was used instead of a 45-degree one, which would have allowed better expanding and contracting of the two surfaces as the seasons change.

Worship of God is central to the life of the church. Our worship space is beautiful, bright, and flexible, allowing us to follow Anglican traditions but also stretch ourselves. So Mary is going to talk to you about a worship activity. It’s not something that happens entirely here in this space, but it is related.

I have been asked to speak about this service that me and a few others do that indirectly involve this wonderful worship space that we call our Sanctuary.  We are known as L.E.M.’s which stands for Lay Eucharistic Minister.

We have been doing this ministry since late 2002 which is shortly after we moved into this building.  We were asked by Rev. Canon Janet Griffith and approved by Bishop Bruce Howe.

Our task is to take communion to shut-ins.  But we do much more than that.  We take the church to them.  For the most part they are interested in what is happening here at Ascension and like to talk about people that they know here and were long time parishioners with.  We usually start with a little visit and then go into the communion service, and even though some of them have dimension, as soon as we start the service they quiet down and take part as they never forget this part of their religious life.  They are always happy and grateful for the visit and the communion.

How this works is we ask the office administrator to put in the bulletin the name of the person we are taking communion to, so that they can be prayed for.  This information is then passed onto the Chancel Guild who prepare our baskets and put them on the altar to be blessed.  At this time I would like to thank the ladies for doing this for us as sometimes we give them very short notice.

For the most part the parishioners that we visit are long term clients that are either in Nursing Homes, Retirement Homes or House bound.  We also visit those who have a temporary reason for not being able to attend church – either because of an operation or an injury that restricts them from leaving their home or hospital bed.  We also ask if they would like a visit from a clergy and if so we pass this information on.  At times Rev. June has accompanied me on visits as well as her asking me to accompany her.

Over the years we have become very attached to those we visit.  For my part, most of them were virtually strangers to me when I first started taking them communion, but after a few visit we became very close.  Unfortunately we have lost a few as they have aged and departed this life.  This is sometimes difficult to deal with but at least we know that they no longer suffer and are in a better place.

When I was first asked to become an L.E.M., I said that I didn’t think this was something that I could do but Rev. Janet asked me to try it first before I turned it down.  I have to thank her for her persistence as I must say that for all the things that I do at Ascension, this is by far the best thing I do and the most rewarding.







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Capital Campaign for Our Church Home – The Parish Hall Pond

Last week, we launched the Capital Campaign for Our Church Home.

This is an ambitious campaign to collect cash and pledges over the next three years to raise $175,000 for current and future repairs to our building.

Campaign packages were distributed Sunday, May 7. Those who weren’t here would have had them delivered by a friend or neighbour, or received them in the mail. If you did not get a package, please let Sandra Coulson know.

We are seeking volunteers to pick up pledge envelopes on the week of June 11-17 if people haven’t brought them in by that Sunday. You won’t have to make a sales pitch. You won’t have to review the donor’s pledge. Just know the basics of the campaign as outlined in your package. You’ll get a list of parishioners to call and a week to go out and pick up the envelopes. We need about 15 volunteers to make sure it’s a light load for everyone. If you can help, please see Deb Adams.

These building repairs are not being done for the sake of the building itself. They are being done in order to shelter and 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 our God.

Each week of the campaign, we’re going to spend a couple of minutes during this time to explaining some of the repairs that are needed and then hear about a ministry taking place directly  under that part of the roof.

This week, let’s talk about the ponding on the roof over the Parish Hall.

As you can see, a large part of the flat roof is covered in water that cannot easily drain. The drains built along sides and on support columns are now higher than the deck of the roof, which has compressed over the years.

The extra water is causing the roof to blister, lose its surface granules, and age from exposure to sunlight.
The Parish Hall is the heart of our community life. It is where we hold Sunday School, Coffee Hour, the Community Breakfast, dinners, and conferences.

Here, Christine Brush will talk about one of those programs:

One of the ministries offered in the Parish Hall is the Friendship Committee, also known as Seniors’ Afternoons or Seniors’ Lunches. This was founded by Christine Brush, Audrey Bullerwell, and Fran Buck. We started this program over five years ago. This program is a safe and welcoming environment for seniors in the London area.

Our volunteers have been from our church family and now has expanded to the London community. We have been able to provide free lunches, eight months a year. These lunches have been with a complementary musical component. This is provided through the generosity of the London and Windsor area bands and individuals that donate their time and musical talent.

The Friendship Committee, through the generosity of our seniors, assists in many other programs in the London area.

Over the five years, the seniors have contributed to London Food Bank, Children’s Aid Society, Mission Services residences, Women’s Community House, several nursing homes, hats and mittens for homeless, and The Angel Tree for Seniors for those who are need.

A month ago, The Friendship Committee, decided to begin a SMART Program directed by VON. This is held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30-9:30am. This program will assist seniors in balance and mobility in a safe environment by trained VON specialist.

The Friendship Committee are continuing to expand our outreach to seniors in the London area, to provide them with a safe and welcoming place to be. As the phrase has been coined, to define who the Friendship Committee are: ” We are the community hub for Seniors.”

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Movie night, anyone?

I went to see The Hunger Games this week. Dramas with a kill-or-die dilemma are not usually what I like to watch, but there was a buzz around this one and I had a discount ticket, so I thought, “Well, if I waste my money, at least it will be a cheap waste.”

With that ringing endorsement, off I went. There was one scene where I thought, “Okay, not watching this moment.” But overall, I’d say it would be a good movie to get a discussion going. (I digress to say I’ve finally found a way to express that without some bad, bad pun such as “There’s a lot of food for thought in The Hunger Games” or “There’s a lot of meat there.”)

There’s the obvious issues of oppression and injustice that we see too often around our world. I also started to think about the ethics of entertainment. Panem’s Capitol is sickeningly obsessed with these games, but I wonder how far off we are as we cheer our way through this year’s particularly vicious NHL playoffs. What are the ethics, too, of a “reality” TV show that is quite manufactured? I was also struck by the view of adults through the eyes of the youth: feckless, self-absorbed. It’s not a youth rebellion, but a sense of being let down by adults. Interesting stuff.


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The Ten Commandments…and the Greatest Commandment

Below is the text from the reflection that was presented on Sunday, March 11th. Some of this was an ad-lib but I tried to stay as close as possible to these concepts.

Ten Commandments given to the ancient Israelite people. Ten hard and fast rules to live by. Some of them are pretty easy to keep. I haven’t felt the urge to murder anyone recently so I’m good there. I have no intention of stealing anything but I suppose that might change if I had no job or money. Coveting my neighbour’s possessions might get difficult too; there are some pretty nice cars out there I might like. I’m not planning on committing adultery…mostly because if I do Charlene might have trouble with the murder one.

So that’s four of the easy ones to remember for just about everyone. Some of the others are mostly known just by us Christians: no Gods before, um, Him, no idols, keep the Sabbath, don’t take his name in vain.

Then there’s the one all parents like…honour thy father and mother.

There’s another one that I usually forget because it doesn’t come up often…oh yeah, don’t bear false witness.

So there they are, ten commandments given to the Israelite people. It might have been easier if Moses stopped there, but no, he has to go and finish writing the Book of Exodus. In it we get a few more “laws” that we are supposed to follow; 613 more laws if memory serves. All kinds of things get covered: what to eat, how to cook it, how to eat it, when to eat it, who to eat it with, how to become clean again after eating it, who we can sleep with, who we can’t sleep with, when we can’t sleep with someone we can sleep with, etc, etc, etc.

Is it any wonder people have become confused knowing how they are supposed to behave?

Then God sent Jesus down to cleanse us of our sins. I wonder if part of his mission was also to straighten out this whole commandments and laws issue. Maybe God accepted the fact that we just couldn’t keep all those rules straight.

So Jesus made it simple for us. He condensed all those commandments and laws into the Greatest Commandment:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

And the second was this:

Love your neighbour as yourself.

Simple, straight forward, to the point. I think anyone can keep these straight.

So when you think of doing something that might be wrong, think whether you would want it done to you. If the answer is no…then don’t do it!

And when you are wondering how much of your time, treasure and talent you should dedicate in one way or another to the Lord, the answer to that question is pretty obvious as well. God comes before everything, but not at the expense of the second command. I think Jesus included the second part so we wouldn’t forget that while we’re waiting to live with God, we have to live with our brothers and sisters here on Earth.

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