From its earliest years the Church has been called to engage with the world, to be part of the world, to be one of the places where we figure out what it means to be human (does human = consumer? worker? We think that’s a little simplistic.), where we explore social issues together, and work out what is truly important.
In worship on Sunday mornings, and in our programming throughout the week, we’re nurturing and nourishing ourselves to live a questioning, caring, authentic, engaged life for all the other six days of the week. But Church is not the only place where these questions are being explored in our society.
The issue of homelessness is one of the key areas where we ask these deep questions, of ourselves and the world around us. At St. Stephen’s we are committed to short-term relief for individuals and families, as well as long-term systemic answers. Over fifteen years ago St. Stephen’s hosted the very first Inn From the Cold in Calgary: then we built partnerships with organizations across the city, and IFTC has now grown to become an independent society in its own right.
The arts is another area where we as a society explore issues of meaning, purpose, belonging and humanity. In recent years, St. Stephen’s has initiated a new engagement of both visual and performing artists in this City, irrespective of their religious commitments. Our Memorial Hall is now home to about a dozen visual artists in 8 premium studio spaces. Cantare Children’s Choir has taken up residence, making St. Stephen’s their home for offices, rehearsal space and performances.
In our recent renovations to our worship space, we have been very intentional to make it ideal for artists in Calgary, so that St. Stephen’s can be host to deep explorations that extend far beyond our own Christian practice. We have installed theatre lighting, additional stage space and flexible seating to accommodate art shows and performances; we should also mention that the acoustics of our worship space are among the best in the city.
As a Christian community, our week may begin with worship on a Sunday morning, but that is only one of the many ways that we share and host deep explorations that make our lives vibrant and our world more just and compassionate.