The “workers” of St Matthew’s ACW (Anglican Church Women/Workers) hosted women from all over the Diocese of New Westminster on Saturday, September 24, 2022, for the Fall Gathering. It is an occasion to hear from an interesting guest speaker, and to find out what various ACW groups from the Sunshine Coast to Hope have been doing within their parishes and in outreach to the wider community. Amazingly, as with the Spring Gathering, this event could be in-person, at convivial round tables in an actual hall (not a Zoom room!).
The St Matthew’s group, to prepare to host, liaised with the present congregation now leasing the church hall – Hope City Church – to use this space (and to return it to its Sunday configuration afterwards). Friends and family of the St Matthew’s ACW showed up on Friday for the physical setting up of tables and chairs. Skilled-in-cooking members of the ACW prepared morning muffins and coffee for the Saturday arrival/registration time, and cooked and served the lunch – soup, sandwiches, fruit tray, and desserts.
The ACW Diocesan Board members registered folks, kept track of the lunch money, counted the thank-offering, led the meeting, and took back with them to the ACW warehouse St. Matthews' contribution of over 70 baby outfits. President Kelly Bowman introduced the speaker, Margaret Franz, who with a PowerPoint slide presentation and a table of historic photographs took the audience through the life of service of her sister, Mary Steinhauser. The biography of Mary, including her last tragic hours as a hostage at BC Pen in 1975, written by Margaret Franz, was displayed for attendees to look at and buy: Between Blade & Bullet: The Mary Steinhauser Story. The offering, at the speaker’s request, went to the Mary Steinhauser Memorial Bursary for SFU aboriginal students in Arts & Social Sciences.
Before lunch, the Board treasurer and president delivered their reports, and members heard accounts from various ACW parish groups of recent activities, illustrating in the real world the theme of the gathering:“Thrive in God’s Service.” In St. Matthew’s sanctuary in the early afternoon, the theme was taken up again in the celebration of a sung Holy Eucharist.
Thanks to the organizers and hosts and hostesses, the approximately 40 in attendance left at 2pm renewed in commitment, refreshed in body, and reflecting on ways to continue to thrive by attracting and accommodating new participants in the Diocese of New Westminster’s ACW.