As a reasonably new addition to the Anglican liturgical calendar, the Season of Creation was welcomed by St Stephen's congregation with new hymns curated by Minister of Music, Dr. Annabelle Paetsch. The first was "Soplo di Dios viviente" (Breath of the Living God), whose Spanish text celebrated creation and was appropriately accompanied by castanets. Annabelle taught this hymn to the group over three Sundays.
Later in September, St. Stephen's parishoner and community choir member Machiko Akakura, donned her traditional Japanese kimono and sang "Sakura, Sakura", a song about creation in spring. This was immediately followed by the congregation singing "Praise to God" (#89, Sing a New Creation), a hymn of praise set to the same tune, accompanied by Dr Paetsch on piano and Hilary Clark on finger cymbals. A new version of the Lord's Prayer written by Martha Blacklock of Mother Thunder Mission was included as part of the service. Reverend Kenneth Vinal mused in his sermons on the glory of creation, and the need for all to respect and care for the environment.
Two discussion groups continue to attract members of the congregation: the online Bible Study conducted via Zoom on Tuesday evenings, and the Wednesday morning discussion group held in the Church lounge. As well, St Stephen's Community Singers, a group of 30 choristers from the community and congregation directed by Dr Paetsch, have resumed rehearsals on Thursday afternoons.
As a finale to the Season of Creation, the blessing of the animals took place on Oct. 1, with organ music from Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens as well as three hymns with texts by St Francis.
Hilary Clark and Machiko Akakura
Machiko Akakura performing "Sakura,Sakura"