Around the dioceses, January 2018

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Conference benefits church secretaries, a job that is ‘often misunderstood’

The annual conference of the Professional Church Secretaries’ Association took place in Oshawa, Ont., from September 30 to October 3, 2017. In attendance were 55 church secretaries and administrators from across southern Ontario.

The event was “a great way to get to know people who work in a very secluded profession,” according to Helen Elbertsen, the parish administrator of St. George, Ajax (Pickering Village).

“The church secretary’s position is often misunderstood by the outside world and can be seen as ‘not a real job’ and being done by ‘grandma types’ who have nothing better to do,” said Elbertsen. Contrary to this belief, she says, a church secretary may take on duties as diverse as bookkeeping, hall rental, building maintenance, assisting church committees, taking minutes, “lending a pastoral ear,” booking funerals and weddings, and preparing weekly bulletins; duties that often encompass much of the day-to-day business of the church.

The theme of the conference was “Learning with Laughter,” and the three-day event included an array of workshops as well as musical entertainment and day trips to a local winery and flour and lumber mill.

The Professional Church Secretaries’ Association is made up of secretaries and administrators from many denominations. For a position that is often exclusive, the association provides connection with others doing similar jobs who may be able to offer assistance or advice. Secretaries and administrators in the diocese of Toronto who want to join next year’s conference can find more information at pcsa.ca.

—The Anglican

Pilgrims walk the inaugural ‘Cowichan Camino’

A group of 12 people walked the inaugural trek of the Cowichan Camino, a 25-km route through Cowichan Valley, B.C., that began at St. John the Baptist, Duncan, and ended at Sts. Christopher and Aidan, Lake Cowichan.

The pilgrimage was created by the Rev. Selinde Krayenhoff and husband, the Rev. Jim Holland, who, after experiencing overseas how walking can be “a way of emotional and spiritual healing and renewal,” wanted a route “that would allow Anglicans to experience pilgrimage without the expense and effort of travelling abroad.”

The pilgrimage took place October 7- 8, beginning with a morning prayer and ending with a special vespers service and Thanksgiving meal put on by the parish. Overnight accommodations were available, and many pilgrims were able to attend breakfast and Thanksgiving Eucharist as well.

The walkers found the pilgrimage to be prayerful, with some calling it healing. They reported a sense of accomplishment, and the bonding that occurs when sharing something outside of usual daily activities. All of the pilgrims spoke reverently about their response to nature and how the walk allowed them to stop, listen and absorb, connecting to God’s creation.

There are plans are to make the Cowichan Camino an annual tradition, according to British Columbia Bishop Logan McMenamie.

In the future, there may be creation of more trails of different lengths, perhaps interconnected, where parishes can be involved along the way.

—Diocesan Post

 Quebec diocesan ACW closes

After 131 years of service, the executive board of the Diocesan Anglican Church Women (ACW) voted to terminate its function as a diocesan organization. The decision was made at a two-day meeting held September 20 and 21 in Quebec City, Que., and came into effect September 21.

The decision to close the board was made based on the reasoning that it no longer represents most of the working groups in viable churches across the Quebec diocese. (At the last Biennial General Meeting in York, Gaspe, in June 2016, only 10% of the parishes in the diocese sent representatives.)

The dissolution is only of the ACW diocesan executive board, not the various ACW groups and guilds throughout the diocese, which will continue as usual. ACW groups in local parishes will no longer be required to send funds for fees, pledge, travel, Thank Offering and education to the diocesan board, and will be able to distribute their funds as they choose.

The diocesan board had $3,095.89 in financial assets, which will be disbursed to the diocesan community project, Chaplaincy Discretionary Fund at Bishop’s University/Champlain College, and PWRDF. The annual interest on the money invested with the Church Society will be directed to the Discretionary Fund of the Anglican Diocesan Bishop of Quebec.

—Quebec Diocesan Gazette

 Halifax youth make a difference by making sandwiches

The Friends of St. Margaret, an outreach of St. Margaret of Scotland Anglican Church in Halifax, have launched the Sandwich Club, an outreach program that brings youth together to make sandwiches for people in the community who are experiencing homelessness.

“The original intent was to offer a program where youth had an opportunity to learn the importance of giving back to their own community, while making a difference to many,” said program leader Rita-Clare LeBlanc. “We started with just six kids, but the word has been spreading…Last month we had 38 youth!”

The Sandwich Club takes place once a month, with youth from Grades 4-12 joining together to pack more than 200 sandwich bags, each filled with a sandwich, carrots, granola bar, juice pack and chocolate treat. The bags are delivered to local shelters and paired with soup to make one night’s meal.

The club, which is funded by the Friends of St. Margaret, is open to everyone and is not a faith-based program. Through the program, the youth involved realize the importance of helping others, make friends, and gain a greater understanding of why some people in their communities may be experiencing homelessness.

—The Diocesan Times

 Finding God in the music of Elvis

Sr. Doreen McGuff at the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine (SSJD) recently led a workshop that explores the love of God through the music of Elvis Presley.

McGuff, who joined the SSJD in Toronto, Ont., in 1965, was inspired to follow the King of Kings by the King of Rock and Roll. It was listening to Elvis’s song “Love Me Tender” that inspired her spiritual vocation: “I thought if only I—we—could love each other that tenderly, that tenaciously, imagine what we could do.”

McGuff thinks of Elvis as “a great theologian,” saying that his music made her realize “that God walks with me all the time and that God’s love is more than we can ask or hope for.”

McGuff ran the first Elvis workshop in 2006. It was successful, and in the years following, she was nudged to do it again, but it never felt right—until she met the Rev. Matthew Martin, who happened to be an Elvis tribute artist, and had been impersonating him since the age of six.

At this year’s Elvis workshop, Martin shared his personal story of addiction and how Elvis had worked in his life. Martin has found many ways to incorporate this music into his ministry: “I’ve sang ‘Love Me Tender’ in hospitals and retirement homes…I see the joy on people’s faces who are in long-term care or palliative care. It’s a powerful thing.”

The workshop featured reflections, both spiritual and standard Elvis songs, and quiet moments when participants walked the labyrinth or visited the convent’s outdoor Stations of the Cross. The focus of the workshop was how faith and love can heal a broken world.

“It is the context for transformation,” said McGuff, “to live out our call to love one another and accept God’s delight and pleasure in us, to accept that we are loved wildly and completely, as a whole package, with all our faults and imperfections.”

—Huron Church News

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