Representatives of several Anglican Church Women (ACW) parish branches, including Beaumont, Camrose, Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Gibbons and Onoway, came together for a Mid-Day Eucharist with the Very Rev. Alex Meek, Dean of Edmonton and Rector of All Saints’ Cathedral; and ACW Patron the Rt. Rev. Stephen London, Bishop of Edmonton.
The first in-person worship gathering of the diocesan ACW since the start of the COVID pandemic two years ago took place on November 30, St. Andrew’s Day, also the 45th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women in the Anglican Church of Canada. Musical accompaniment was provided by Elaine Johnston MacMillan, a member of St. Andrew’s, Camrose.
While the livestream feed was being connected for people to participate in the service from home, Bishop London took the opportunity to get to know the congregation gathered at All Saints’ Cathedral. If you missed the service, you can watch it on the Cathedral YouTube channel.
Bishop London offered his personal experience of the kindness of the ACW. He recalled how he had been an honorary ACW member in the parish of St. Michael and All Angels in Edmonton, where the ACW was known for making butter tarts. In fact, the parish liked to say the new church was built on the sale of butter tarts, “which was largely true. It was quite amazing.” In 2005, Steve and Stephanie had just spent two days making butter tarts, when their first child Claire was born a day later. The family still jokes “it was the butter tarts that did it.” The next few days following Claire’s birth, “people came to our house and they brought food and cards and goodness. People, and especially the ACW, were so kind to us at a crazy time when we were trying to figure out what it meant to be new parents.”
Today, “the impact of the ministry of thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands of faithful Christian women on the Anglican Church of Canada has been tremendous,” said London. “As discipleship groups at the heart of parishes across this country, the ACW raises funds for the mission of the church and puts so much in place. ACW groups pray together, study scripture together, laugh with one another, support each other and their parishes; they’re deeply involved in the charitable activities of their local communities. It is absolutely impossible to measure that kind of spiritual impact. Thank you on behalf of the Edmonton diocese for your ministry and outreach; for your care and concern in the name of Jesus Christ for the communities in which you live, for proclaiming the Gospel in both word and deed, for persevering through these hard times of COVID when so much has been disrupted and we’ve had to learn new ways to be together.”
At their patronal feast of the ACW, Bishop London offered a message of renewal and encouragement; inviting ACW members to “recommit yourselves one more time to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. Because we do have Good News to share. That is why we are here. That is why we exist. We believe in a God who gives life and builds people up…”
Assisted by ACW National President Margaret Warwick, a member of Good Shepherd, Edmonton, Bishop London installed several members of the Diocesan ACW Executive, including President Elaine Dickie, a member of St. John the Divine in Onoway.
Dean Alex Meek presided over the Eucharist. Following the service, members of the congregation were invited to take home a bookmark imprinted with the ACW Member’s Prayer. COVID safety regulations prevented the congregation from gathering for lunch, however, takeaway care packages filled with shortbread cookies, tea and Christmas oranges were provided.