Saint James Anglican Church

Joseph Howe Drive at the Armdale Rotary, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada             


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Annual Report 2006

 

The Parish of St. James, Armdale, seeks to live out the Christian faith in the Anglican tradition, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We strive to grow as a welcoming, friendly, parish family that has strong liturgical, pastoral and teaching ministries. We are dedicated to fostering the values of the Christian Faith in our parish, and reaching out to the wider community. -St. James Mission Statement

 

Fostering Values and Reaching Out: The Rector's Report for 2006

 

A mission statement is best evaluated, not by words alone but by the lived reality of those whom it inspires. We adopted our Parish Mission Statement several years ago. It is printed almost weekly in the parish leaflet. It is important we monitor how we live it out.

 

We strive to foster the values of Christian faith. I strive to realize this vision through my educator's responsibilities as parish priest. Sermon preparation is a call to relate the insights of the readings to the experience of a living faith. Current trends in the world, developments in the wider church, the concerns and observations of parishioners, the conversations from our Bible Study Group all provide a mine of information. I then place it alongside the insights of the authors of Sacred Story. There is an old joke about "preaching to yourself". In fact, preachers are well advised to include themselves among those to whom they preach. After all, pastors face the same challenge joys and concerns faced by people in the pews. Preaching, Bible study, sermon series, children's stories, funeral and wedding homilies, and my part in other educational aspects of parish life challenge me to foster the values of Christian Faith. The enterprise is not mine alone. This past year, for example, the Ecumenical Water Awareness Program was placed before our parish in a set of related initiatives. The Lenten sermon series was devoted to the theme of water as a faith symbol. Water was the focus of the Children's stories. The worship events were matched by the excellent presentations given by Bill Gates (water delivery systems), Bill Li (Earth's Oceans & Water Cycle) and Carmon Stone (Water and Mid East Geography). Carmon also instructed the confirmation program that began in last fall. The Sunday school program works in a holistic way in the classroom, in conjunction with worship, and with outreach programming to foster the values of faith in the children of the parish. I'm pleased to lend support to these endeavors. The newly organized Christian Meditation Group, coordinated by Irene Reid, provides a contemplative opportunity for nurturing and sustaining the spiritual life. Liturgy is one of the most important contexts for training Christians. The rhythm of the Church year is such a wonderful resource in this regard. From the intimate Easter Vigil and Resurrection reception following to the Choral Eucharist of Easter Day, the celebration of Easter is a microcosm of our entire church year. Liturgies like this form and shape us throughout the year. A great number of people are involved in the planning and conduct of liturgy: committee members and parish staff, readers, servers, choristers and musicians, eucharistic ministers, Altar Guild members, sidespeople, and so forth.

 

The Pastoral life of the Church is an arena for fostering Christian values-especially the values of care, mercy, compassion, and grace. There are some statistics below; but the continuum of pastoral appointments that characterizes my role runs from preparing people for baptism and weddings, through pastoral counsel, to sacramental acts for the sick and the dying. What is said or signed in each situation is intended to be grounded in the values of faith. Once again, it is a shared ministry. It is shared with the pastoral visitors group and others who visit on behalf of the church. It is shared with the many individuals whom I know uphold others in prayer. It is shared with the hospital chaplaincy team. It is shared with the activity staff in the nursing home. It is shared with members of the many families of the parish who care for one another during life's turning points. The fostering of the values of Christian faith takes place within a setting that is made up both of people and a place. The values of faith are fostered in the activities of the people who belong to our many groups and organizations. The singing of hymns, the planning of food events, the conduct of programs and activities are all expressions of the values of people engaged in building up community. The church building itself is also a vehicle for Christian formation. Buildings may be a burden in some situations. However, we must not loose sight of the fact that our buildings are an asset for the faithful. Throughout the year visitors and new comers remark on the beauty of our church environment. Immediately stories ensue about their church of origin, or how the surroundings here make them feel 'at home.' You can see the warmth as they take in the church environment around them. Many people returning home for a visit remark on the loveliness of the chapel. Immediately stories ensue about growing up in the parish, worshipping in the 'old church', or attended Sunday school. Sacred space is a place where the sacred story is joined to the stories of people-people who are part of our story. Therefore, those who labour to care for maintain and upgrade our church and hall play a crucial role in fostering an environment that in turn fosters values.

 

The values of faith enliven a people for outreach into God's world. Many and varied are the ways that people from St. James volunteer in the wider community in fulfillment of their baptismal covenant. There are several people from our parish who contribute to Diocesan work. Note the work of our outreach Committee and the many projects it supports locally and in the wider world. Mark the opportunities for learning and generosity that are part of the life of our groups, organizations and Sunday school. Many of the Mothers Union monthly programs bridge the interests of MU with speakers from the wider community. The St. James Branch also makes a contribution to outreach through such things as Mission to Seafarers, Phoenix House, and the northern clergy wives fund. A Mothers Union member is often one of the earliest contacts a new parent at St. James will make at church. There is the work of The Anglican Church Women. The A.C.W. has a long and solid history with mission-something that continues to be reflected in the interests and expenditures of St. James A.C.W. St. James Social Club, celebrating its 55th year in 2007, includes topics pertaining to the wider world on its calendar of events. The Stewardship Committee is a new initiative within our parish committee structure. Stewardship theology has an outreach component in that it joins "our house" to God's world. I'm energized in working with our Stewardship Committee in its formative stages. I try and make certain that there is an "outgoing" aspect to my own role as a priest of the church. Much of my preaching and teaching ministry is delivered from a justice education perspective. I have found my pastoral contribution to Glades Lodge to be very meaningful. I am enjoying my work with Bishop Fred as a member of Dean and Chapter. I am enjoying my work with Bishop Sue as a member of the Diocesan Stewardship Resource Education Group -part of the "Letting Down the Nets" initiative. I was able to serve as acting regional dean for Chebucto this past fall. This past year I completed my term as Diocesan Chaplain for Mothers Union. It was great to attend with members from St. James the spring rally in St. John's, North Sydney. It was a privilege to be here in November when St. James hosted Mothers Union Branches and welcomed Susan Wilson from Mary Sumner House in England. Ms. Wilson gave a great presentation on the work of MU worldwide. She spoke about the work of the MU "Overseas Fund" in so many places in the world. Mothers Union has under gone a very significant evolution over the past number of years. The MU is committed to fostering all types of family life around the world. Having supported MU branches as a priest in several parishes, it was a great privilege to become an actual member of a branch here at St. James this past year.

 

Let me conclude with some thank you notes. I reiterate the expressions of gratitude by our wardens in their report to so many faithful members of the parish. In addition to the groups I noted above, I wish to thank our staff Michael Hadley (custodian), Allen Simpson and his wife Karen (book keeper and printer), David Wilson (choir director and organist) together with Betty Rice (office secretary), Hugh McGinn (envelope secretary)
for all of their time and work. I wish to thank our parish wardens. It has been wonderful working with Carmon Stone, Pam Williams and Bill Li. I'm aware of the time commitment and sense of responsibility that is theirs. Carmon is rotating off as Senior Warden. A note of gratitude is extended to him on behalf of Pam, Bill and I. A thank you is extended as well to those who are rotating off from a term on Parish Council. They do so with appreciation for consistent and committed service. A thank you is extended to Sarah Jane Raine and members of the Finance Committee. Good management and oversight resulted in a great year in 2006 with a prudent budget for the year just begun. Thank you is extended to my "mentor" The Rev. Canon David Boston. David's availability to take services during my holidays, to assist on Sundays as his intrepid schedule permits, his help with both hospital ministry and Wednesdays on occasion, and for his ongoing support are all much appreciated. A very special thank you is extended to Wendy for all of her support and understanding, and her willingness to uphold me in parish ministry despite a very demanding schedule of her own both at home and at work. The Holy Spirit has given her the gifts of encouragement, patience, insight and wise counsel. I am frequently a beneficiary of her application of the same.

 

Respectfully submitted - The Rev. Canon Rod Gillis

 

2006 Pastoral appointments: 257

Easter Octave attendance: 516.

Easter Octave Communicants: 506. (April15.16 &23)

Christmas attendance: 532.

Christmas Communicants: 475. (Dec. (24/25)