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The annual general meeting of the Anglican Church Women (ACW) was held at St. John’s church in Oromocto May 7 with 54 members present. The day’s theme was “All things bright and beautiful.”

The day began with a service of Holy Eucharist, led by the Rev. Stephen Harnish. Archbishop David Edwards preached. The organist was Shirley Mills; layreaders were Peggy Boucher and Donna Mulholland.

David, in his sermon, spoke of Rogation Day, on the Anglican calendar that week.

“In the UK, we would be outside, ‘beating the bounds,’ walking the parish boundaries to pray for the crops, the farms and the people,” he said. “Rogation Day reminds us of the fact that we have a responsibility. When God created the heavens and the earth, he said, ‘they’re yours to look after.’”

Scripture tells us that trees clap their hands and images of creation worship God.

“We don’t see it, but God does,” he said. “It means we give it respect.”

David gave examples of the good and the bad in taking care of creation. The first was an update on the mobile medical clinic in Ghana, which donations from the ACW, the diocese and Rotary helped bring to fruition.

“It goes out twice a month and an average of 1,000 people are cared for,” he said. “That is caring for creation.”

The second example is also from Ghana. When David was last there, he and Bishop Matthias visited the coast, where they walked a beautiful, sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean.

“But there are piles of plastic, piled up at the tide mark for miles and miles,” he said, noting that, upon inspection, he found labels from North America, Europe and Ghana.

For a country as poor as Ghana, there is little incentive to clean it up.

‘We’re busy enough trying to keep body and soul together. We don’t have time for that,’  Bishop Matthias told David.

“Our not caring for creation impacts others, but we live under one God,” said David. “God gave us this little green and blue ball and said, ‘look after it.’

“On this Rogation Day, lets remember our part:  the trees, animals, humans and our role to care for all because we are one in Christ.”

Vice president Peggy Boucher shared her memories of the late Claude Miller, who died last July. 

“One of his favourite projects was Camp Medley, and as a child he enjoyed many days at camp,” she said.

The Book of Remembrance was read, which contained the names of ACW members who have died since last year’s meeting. Roll call was taken.

Treasurer Cathy Lutes presented the 2024 budget, noting that there were 36 branches in 2022, and 31 in 2023.

The 2024 budget was passed. Outgoing president Jill Stewart noted that if branches donate to causes through their parishes, then the diocesan ACW has no record of it. 

Cathy asked branches to pay their yearly dues first, then send donations to whatever causes they wish to support. 
Lunch was a choice of several soups, plus bread, cheese and desserts.

The guest speaker was Father Shawn Daley, a lieutenant and chaplain in the Royal Canadian Navy posted to St. Mary’s Chapel in nearby Base Gagetown. He filled in at the AGM for the Anglican chaplain, who was away.

Shawn was a monk for 16 years in Rogersville, then became a missionary, serving in the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Uganda, Thailand and the Australian bush. He speaks several languages. He described himself as a mystic, and as such, “I see through the trappings.”

It was six years ago as he watched the news, seeing Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan, “looking like shells of themselves” that he decided he could help by joining up. He went to the Priestman Street recruiting office and two days later was accepted. Then it was off to 12 weeks of basic training. 

Much of his work is in dealing with soldiers suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

He was deployed to Cologne, Germany to minister to soldiers returning from a mission to Egypt. The stop in Germany was to allow soldiers to decompress from a high-stress posting on their way back to Canada. 

Shawn gave an overview of the chaplaincy within the Canadian Armed Forces. Chaplaincy began as a result of the First World War, when King George V decided that no soldier should die alone. At that time, there were only Anglican chaplains. 

By the Second World War, there were Roman Catholic chaplains as well.

“The main thing was being there when someone was dying,” said Shawn.

Two years ago, he went to France with a Canadian family to bury the last known Canadian soldier from the First World War whose lapel pins and remains had been found, then traced through DNA testing.

“We buried him as if he had just died,” he said.

Next year at this time, Shawn will be retired from the Royal Canadian Navy, living in the Dominican Republic and operating SAD CAN, a respite care non-profit for Canadian soldiers.

He believes soldiers, especially those suffering from PTSD, could benefit from spending six months in the Caribbean, with the benefit of sun and the absence of cold and snow.

“People who are severely hurt can come and escape the Canadian winter,” he said, adding the name refers to SAD — seasonal affective disorder. “It’s a type of care not available in Canada.”

He has applied for charitable status and invites prayer for his retirement project.

Shawn described a charity shop on base called St. Luke’s thrift shop, where soldiers leaving the base can donate household goods they don’t wish to ship to their next posting, and arriving soldiers can shop for household goods they need as they arrive here. 

“It’s for people who move and don’t want to take their stuff with them,” said Shawn, adding profits go mostly to local food banks.

Outgoing president Jill Stewart went over the mission statements of several Anglican entities, inviting members to think on their own missions.

Deanery reports were accepted. Reports were also received from Bishop McAllister College and Launching Out, the diocesan newsletter of the ACW. Prayers were said throughout the afternoon on a variety of subjects.

With ACW membership dropping and the chronic difficulty of recruiting new members, there was informal talk of inviting men to join. Donna Mulholland of Oromocto noted men in her parish who have been invaluable to her group.

“I’ve already bestowed on three men, who have done so much, an honorary ACW membership,” she said. “Our help can come from many sources. It doesn’t have to stop at us.”

Rosemarie Kingston gave a report on the Pickett-Scovil Fund, which helps pay for retired clergy (and spouses) medical care not covered by Medicare or private plans. Glasses, dental work, and hearing aids are the main expenditures. 

The revenue used is from income on an investment that is more than a century old, which the diocese manages. 
Rosemarie also set up the diocesan ACW Facebook page, where branches can advertise upcoming events and sales, and members can keep in touch. Search Diocese of Fredericton ACW or click this link. 

The offering for the day totalled $620. Members voted to round it up to $700 and split it four ways:  Camp Brookwood and Camp Medley ($150 each); St. Luke’s thrift shop ($100); and Farraline Place ($300).

Administrator Judy O’Donnell gave an update on the ACW-affiliated home for 20 seniors in downtown Fredericton. 

In the early spring, there were six room vacancies, but by early May, only two rooms were vacant, which was a relief for the home that depends on rental income to operate. Judy noted it’s difficult for people to move in the winter. 

The annual garden party will be held Thursday, Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. The theme will be “Farraline Place Summer Carnival.”

The fall fundraising dinner is planned for Oct. 5 at the Fredericton Inn. Tickets are $150, with a $100 tax receipt. Last year the dinner raised $26,000 for the home.

Board president Darline Cogswell is stepping down this year. 

Judy noted that the cards ACW branches send residents for birthdays and special occasions are valued.

“Some folks here have no family,” she said. “Your cards mean so much to them. It’s a small, simple little thing that means so much.”

Peggy Boucher (St. Margaret’s) was installed as the new president. Carolyn Pellow (St. Margaret’s)  takes over the secretary duties from Diane Todd (St. Paul’s Hampton), who in turn took the position of vice-president. 
The Rev. Harnish led the service of installation. 

KIT or keeping in touch, is the hope of outgoing president Jill Stewart. She noted that as branches close, the remaining members might not get ACW information, “and they become estranged.”

She suggested pen pals, chat pals, and phone pals to keep in touch with fellow members. 

“That’s a project I want to work on, and I’m looking for helpers,” she said. “No one should be left behind.”
Jill also will continue to work on the constitution project with her small group of helpers.

“We have a working group revamping this because it’s extraordinarily outdated,” she said. 

Jill noted the difficult times some branches find themselves in with few people. The Riverview ACW was cited as one evolving with the times, with no president or vice-president. A group of five takes on various roles, like chairing meetings, liaison with the vestry and rector, and so on. 

Jill encouraged everyone to adopt a fuller prayer life, and suggested the book Imagine the God of Heaven by John Burke, which recounts near death experiences.

The day ended with a hearty thank you to the Oromocto members who hosted the meeting, the ladies who prepared lunch, the guest speaker, the members themselves for attending, and the executive old and new for their service. 

1.  AVW members enjoy fellowship at lunch.

2.  The lunch line up, with hosts Becca McIntyre, Violet Parsons, Shirley Parlee and Margaret Thomas (hidden) .

3.  The new executive: vice-president Diane Todd, secretary Carolyn Pellow, the Rev. Stephen Harnish, treasurer Cathy Lutes, past president Jill Stewart and president Peggy Boucher. 

4.   Father Shawn Daley, a lieutenant and chaplain in the Royal Canadian Navy, was the guest speaker.
McKnight photos

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