St. Albans Church Annual Vestry Meeting, March 1st, 2015
A Message from the Rector
It’s time to make connections!
I’m very pleased that our Parish Council has decided to make “Connections” our ministry theme for 2015. All of us, one way or another, know how important it is to be connected. It is especially important for this community of St. Albans Church in 2015. Last year, in 2014, we had 89 new people become part of our community. That trend has continued every Sunday so far in 2015. To all those who have joined us in the past year, welcome. There are now over 200 people who make St. Albans their home in one way or another. That is a wonderful thing, especially for a congregation now in its fourth year.
But it is also a challenge. Because if we are to be all members of one body, then like the various parts in the body, we need to be connected. There is the obvious challenge of simply remembering names and finding opportunities to greet each other on a Sunday. But there is also the deeper challenge of really getting to know one another, of discovering each other’s gifts and finding ways to allow these to be expressed in our community, and of being attentive to each other’s needs and learning how to care for one another. In all of this I think we are doing well, but we must intentionally seek ways of doing better, for each other’s sake, and for the sake of our mission to be light and salt in the world.
Connection is at the heart of who we are as followers of Jesus. When asked which law was the greatest, Jesus responded by saying that we are to love God and to love our neighbour as ourself. This has been called the great commandment; it could equally be called the great connection.
Our Sunday worship together is a starting point for these connections, and for this reason it is central to what we do as a community. Thank you to all of you gather to worship at St. Albans on Sundays, whether at 10am or 5pm, and thank you for sharing your gifts as readers, greeters and in a variety of other ways. Sundays are important; but we also need more opportunities to connect, in smaller groups, at a more leisurely pace, throughout the week and in a variety of settings. To encourage this, our project for Lent 2015 is to form Connect Groups, groups of 5-10 people who will meet weekly during Lent to pray, discuss the upcoming Sunday readings and to get to know each other. In other words, to make connections. Already I know that many of you are in a Connect Group. If you’re not, it’s not too late, you can join one today. My hope is that everyone will participate.
The year 2014 has been a good year for St. Albans. Our student and campus ministry has exploded this year under the leadership of Zack Ingles. We started our student internship program and we established our uOttawa student club. We have found new ways of partnering with Centre 454, raising funds through the play Subway Stations of the Cross, and providing breakfast as part of Centre 454’s 60 ways campaign. This past year we have established St. Albans as one of the premiere mid-sized venues for the arts in Ottawa, hosting artists such as Ins Choi, Amelia Curran, Jennifer Castle and Dan Bejar, and festivals such as Arboretum and Ottawa Fringe, all of which resulted in thousands of people coming through our doors. We celebrated the ordination of the Rev. Jonathan Askwith, first as a deacon, then as a priest of the Anglican Church of Canada. Thanks to your generosity, we are slightly ahead of schedule on our path towards financial sustainability by 2016, allowing us to return a portion of our allocated subsidy for 2014 to the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa.
It’s been just over 3 ½ years since a small group of us met for the first time at the Royal Oak pub to start to flesh out just what a Spirit-Led, Christ-Centred, Contemporary Urban Church might look like here at St. Albans. Since these first meetings we have become aware that as a new church plant supported by our Anglican Diocese, we have been given a new context and a new calling to do and be church differently, to explore and experiment with what it means to be faithful followers of Jesus tasked with the mission of proclaiming the kingdom of God in our city in the 21st century. This calling and this mission remain as important as ever. We remain committed to being an inclusive church, rooted in our neighbourhood, and welcoming all people, no matter their age, ability, gender, cultural background, sexual orientation, income level or faith tradition, to join us as we seek to deepen our relationship with God and each other.
Thank you for all that you have done as part of our St. Albans community during this past year and indeed these past 3 ½ years. I can’t name everyone, but I would like to thank our current wardens, John and Haig. I would like to thank Peter for his ministry in this neighbourhood, and wish him well as he takes a 6 month leave from us to write his thesis. I would like to welcome and thank Annie, who joined us as Church Administrator in April 2014.
Grace and peace,
The Reverend Mark Whittall