Saturday, October 9 was a special day at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Edmonton. Having participated in preparation together, eight children from five families celebrated their first communion. One little girl, Chizara Iwekpeazu, was baptised.
Once again, the patio at St. John’s provided the outdoor setting that, together with social distancing, created a safe space for families to gather. And, happily, the weather cooperated. The only snag in the proceedings came in the form of a government announcement, just a few days before, limiting outdoor gatherings to 20 instead of 200. Taking this direction onboard, St. John’s shifted what was to be one large event to three smaller events held throughout the day.
Even so, the Rev. Maryann Amor says, “The day could not have gone better! It was a privilege to celebrate such an important moment in the lives of each family. With the sun streaming down on us as we worshipped God together and celebrated our kids; the energy and joy that filled the patio drowned out the noise of the pandemic. I don't think any of us present will ever forget the day.”
Amor has responsibility at St. John’s for the children and families’ ministry. She prepared for the services, which included a craft for each family, and she led the services along with Stephanie Okolo and St. John’s rector, the Ven. Richard King. As he has met with families over the summer, King has found many reluctant to bring their (unvaccinated) children to church and so the outdoor events have made it possible for them to participate comfortably.
King was thrilled to see new leaders emerging through the process of preparing children for their first communion. “It’s great to see people's gifts flourish,” he says. “We all grow as a result. Stephanie is one of our youth. She and others who have joined Maryann's team have such leadership potential and we want to nurture that in all our children and young people. It was a blessed occasion and a privilege to be present. We are most grateful to Adrian and Ronnenne (members of St. John’s) who with their gardening gifts have created a beautiful patio that has proved to be such a blessing in this pandemic.”