St. Stephen United Church Newsletter Summer 2004 Friends: Recently, I’ve been shocked by images from around the world of violence, senseless killing and torture. I’m reminded of the words of Viktor Frankl: “Our generation has come to know man (sic) as he really is. Man is the being who has invented the gas chamber of Auschwitz; he is also the being who has entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord’s Prayer or Shema on his lips.” I feel deep pain when I consider how much of the horror has been in the name of religion - Jews, Muslims, Christians, whether screaming rhetoric in newspapers or TV images of high explosives and shrapnel raining fire and death on civilians and children (my God, why are there always children?). Two questions haunt us – Why? Who’s to blame? No one acknowledges responsibility! I have a nagging feeling that many think the culprit is God. We know there’s no simple answer to human evil. But God has often been declared guilty. “It’s God’s will” has been used too frequently as an excuse and justification for unexplainable tragedy and violence. “God told me (us) to do it!” I believe unquestionably that neither tragedy nor human evil are ever God’s will or fault. God has become a convenient scapegoat and projection for our own evil doing. God has given us free will to choose our way. We have the freedom to make a madhouse of human history, or a community of peace and co-operation. We can be greedy or generous, selfish or compassionate. There are days when I question God’s wisdom in giving us this freedom to choose, particularly when I struggle with the violence I’ve experienced in my life. Love must be freely given. But freedom can turn love into barbarism at the snap of a finger, or command. This is a sobering thought! In a book “Why God?”, it says: “there is latent violence, a desire to destroy, in all of us. Violence, once unleashed, is like fire, devouring and destroying everything it meets. We’ve seen the horrors of unleashed violence in this century. We deplore it, throw up our hands in horror, but too often respond with more violence, and so add to the accumulative effect.” Seeds of violence are within us, nurtured by denial, prejudice and fear. They infect every aspect of our lives, turning families, communities, even religious beliefs into more violence and injustice. Seeds of violence often begin at a young age and are nurtured for a lifetime. Seeds of violence are in each person. At every moment we are free to choose. Curse the darkness and contribute towards it, or acknowledge it and light the flickering candle of human hope, of God’s eternal Spirit within us and ultimately within every human being. Viktor Frankl writes that in German concentration camps, some behaved like swine while others behaved like saints. We have the choice within us that determines not just the actions we take, but finally the spirit we are. It’s what unites us, or separates us, from God. Summer is a time to reflect and meditate, to consider the choices we make, the debris and violent thoughts which impede and darken our lives, and the peace, love, justice, and cooperative spirit God calls for us to share from the foundations of the world. It is in union with God’s Spirit in Christ that the only lasting peace and hope will blossom. See you in church (9:30 a.m.) this summer. God bless you!
Women’s Group News
A Plant Auction will be held at the May 25th meeting at 7:30 p.m. Bring your transplants and clippings from your garden! All women welcome! Women’s Group Pot Luck Dinner – Tuesday, June 8th at 6:30 p.m. Men and women are invited to bring their favourite dish and enjoy an evening out with our Guest Speaker, Arthur Kemp who will talk about his World War II experiences. ~~~~~ Mother’s Group - Meets every Monday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the nursery at St. Stephen. Mothers with babies and young children are welcome. For further information, contact Stephanie Finlay at 905 634-1882. Parenting Program - This program is offered in conjunction with the Ontario Early Years, is being hosted at St. Stephen. This 8 week program will begin on Wedneday, October 6th. ~~~~~
his big sister had had enough. "You're not supposed to talk out loud in church." "Why? Who's going to stop me?" Joel asked. Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, "See those two men standing by the door? They're hushers." ~~~~~
Our Talent Money Project is underway, and there is a buzz of activity! The following is a list of some of the projects…..
Oak serving trays – Wendy & Graham Sharpe 12 month calendar – several ladies! Folding pine tables – Bruce Paterson and Art Cole Home Baked Pies – The Briggs’ Family Knitted Socks – Dorothy Sharpe Custom home Painting – Kaye Rioux and Tina
Neck Stocks for 1812 Re-enactors – Bruce,
Jason, Adam & Matt Bainbridge
For the four month period ending April 30, 2004, there has been an improvement of $1,400 over last month in our operating shortfall. Our receipts are still less than anticipated. Operating expenses totalling $57,400 exceeded revenues of $53,500 resulting in a net shortfall of $3,900. The church’s operating expenses of about $14,000 per month will be ongoing during the summer months. Should you be away during the summer period, our financial team would greatly appreciate that your envelope givings are kept up to date. Postdated cheques can be left at the church office, should you so desire. ~~~~~ Six-year-old Angie and her fouryear-old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked out loud. Finally,
Home-made dog biscuits – Linda Flear Wooden Plant hangars – Blain Edmondson Bus trip to Penetanguishene for a boat cruise and a matinee performance of “Swing” – Jack Phillips If you would like others to know of your project and/or assist with it, please contact the church office at 906-336-7413. Thanks to everyone for their participation! ~~~~~
From the Worship Committee….
At the annual meeting, the idea of a Worship/Communion Team was presented. Several people having an interest in this team, participated in a workshop with Keith Knill on Sunday, April 25th. If others are interested in being a part of this team, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 905-689-8745.
Summer Worship Hours
Our worship services will begin at 9:30 a.m. from July 4th to Labour Day inclusive. Lemonade will be served on the front lawn following the service!
Sunday School Update
Mark Sunday, June 13 on your calendar. The annual church picnic will take place following morning worship. Food, fun and games for all ages! Bring a lawn chair and a potluck dish. Decorate your own ice cream cone for dessert!! June 6 – Popcorn and Veggie Tales Day! A special treat for the Sunday School children. June 20 – Dads and Donuts The children will prepare a craft and sing a special song for Dad outside on the lawn after church. Donuts for all dads!! There are 4 young people currently in the confirmation class led by Bruce Bainbridge. The Rainbow Choir is for children ages 2½ and older. The rehearsals follow the worship service and a snack is provided for the children. The choir is taking a break for the summer, but will resume practices after Labour Day. On September 29th, Ann Fleming, (Minister for Christian
Nurture, Stewardship & Worship Education from Hamilton Conference) will be leading a workshop on
Please remember the Benevolent Fund. There are increasing requests for support from our community – many of whom have never had to ask for support before. If you are using envelopes, just indicate “Benevolent Fund” on the „Other‟ line of your envelopes. Thank you.
Pot-Luck Picnic Time!
A big thank you to St. Stephen congregation for responding to our needy family. We are most appreciative of your generosity.
A Handy Household Tip
Slip-free hangars! Wrap 2 or 3 elastic bands around the ends of hangars to keep delicate items from sliding off.
The “Spring Fling” will be presented this year May 28 & 29 and June 4 & 5 at 7:30 p.m. It will be Cabaret Style held in the church hall. Elegant musical stylings will accompany your trip across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary. Only a few tickets still available – Call Walter Adams at 905 336-2595 for information. Refreshments are included!
~~~~~ An invitation to a Miscellaneous Bridal Shower for Graham & Heather (Keith and
Nancy‟s son and future daughter-inlaw) on Saturday, June 12 at 2pm. Please
screening volunteers. Please mark this date on your calendar and plan to join us. ~~~~~
Outreach & Action
The Wesley Centre‟s A Case for Kids Walk, Run & Ride event is June 6th. Please consider sponsoring someone who is walking!
join us in the Fellowship room to celebrate! You are asked to bring along a „tried and true‟ recipe for the couple. If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to Sue Paquette or Shirley Bainbridge.