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A Season of Learning

May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew; like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth.Exodus 32:2 (NRSV)

Note: I have written a separate reflection regarding the horror of what happened in Las Vegas last night here:

One of the things that I have always appreciated about St. Matthew’s is the appreciation and value placed on education and academic study. Clint consistently led book studies prior to me coming, and he continues to do so on a monthly basis. Last week, I wrote about Brad Baillod’s volunteer work outside the congregation, and in some ways my focus this week is similar, but it is more intimately linked with the life and ministry of St. Matthew’s. Wayne Valleau’s volunteer work has been to lead courses exploring various plays penned by William Shakespeare for the past number of years. These are well-attended, and have been done so in conjunction with the Calgary and Area Lifelong Learners or “CALL.” The idea is that St. Matthew’s provides the educational opportunities that really are geared for us as a congregation, but we open up the doors and CALL provides us the means of advertising it through the wider community. A little over a year ago, I decided to take the same approach in leading some studies and seminars, to offer a course intended for us at St. Matthew’s, but to open up the doors to the community through CALL.

We are gearing up for a new “Season of Learning” here at St. Matthew’s, and Wayne and I are both starting new seminars starting on Monday, October 16th.  Here’s a brief summary of both, and the rationale for why we are offering them.

Much Ado About Nothing – Starting Monday October 16th, 10am; Narthex

A comedy from the middle of the playwright’s career, it is assumed to have been performed for the first time at in the very last years of the 17th century. Wayne’s approach for this seminar is to use the play as the first of three that will explore theme of jealousy, the sixth of the seven deadly sins.  Shakespeare’s send-up, as the best comedies do, hold a mirror up to our very human nature. Wayne invites us to dive into these warm Mediterranean waters to explore how much there is to learn about “nothing.”

In the New Year, Wayne will continue exploring the theme of Jealousy, first with the tragedy of Othello, and then the comedy/romance of The Winter’s Tale. Take the opportunity and hear to Wayne’s enthusiastic explorations of the Bard.

Evolution of the Bible Part 1 – Starting Monday, October 16th, 7:30pm, Sanctuary

A bit of truth-telling here: studies have shown that members of mainline churches, including the United Church, aren’t all that comfortable when it comes to the core document of our faith. Perhaps we are worried that we might come across as judgemental or even fundamentalist if we actively talk about the Bible.

The truth is, the history of the Bible is far more complex, and far more interesting than any big-haired preacher makes it out to be. The reality is that the Bible evolved as a document, and the story of that development is worth exploring. Rather than parking one’s brain at the door, this is a chance to come and explore how this collection of ancient near-eastern writings became the most influential piece of literature in the development of western society. As an introduction to Biblical scholarship, we will be exploring the techniques that scholars used, and what they have learned from it.

Part 1 is in reference to Hebrew Scriptures, what we commonly call “The Old Testament” although even that definition itself requires some nuance. Part 2 will be offered in the New Year, exploring the development of the New Testament.

So in this “Season of Learning” I invite you to please take advantage of these two opportunities to learn something new at St. Matt’s.

Yours in Christ,



Upcoming Events and Announcements

  • Thanksgiving Sunday – October 8th
  • Sunday, October 15th – Guest Preacher: Kim Holmes Younger
    • As John will be on Study Leave in preparation for the Evolution of the Bible Seminar, Kim Holmes-Younger will be leading worship and preaching that day. Kim is a student for ministry under the support of Calgary Presbytery, and is attending Vancouver School of Theology through their distance education programme.
  • Shakespeare at St. Matt’s – Much Ado About Nothing
    • Wayne Valleau returns with his considerable teaching ministry here at St. Matthew’s to offer the first of a three-part series of how Shakespeare explores the sixth of the seven deadly sins: Jealousy.
    • The first of the plays Wayne will be exploring is the comedy Much Ado About Nothing, and then will follow up in the New Year with Othello and The Winter’s Tale.
    • The seminars will be held starting at 10am on Monday, October 16th in the Narthex.
    • This seminar is in partnership with CALL (Calgary and Area Lifelong Learners), and is open to anyone, regardless of one’s background or familiarity with the material. For more information, please contact Wayne Valleau at
  • Evolution of the Bible – Part 1: Hebrew Scriptures
    • Starting Monday October 16th at 7:30pm, Rev. John Crowdis will be leading a five-week seminar as an introduction to insights on how the Bible that we know today developed over time. Using the work of scholars over history, this course delves into the timeline, structure, and development of the Bible, as well as how that information helps us to interpret it for people thousands of years after the first words were penned. This is part 1 of a 2 part series. In particular, this course investigates Hebrew Scripture, commonly called the Old Testament.
    • As a seminar format, you are welcome to come an learn about the history of the Biblical texts themselves, how they developed into their current form, as well as a discussion on what constitutes “canon” and how that can both help and hinder our reading of these ancient texts.
    • As with Wayne’s Shakespeare explorations, this seminar is in partnership with CALL (Calgary and Area Lifelong Learners), and is open to anyone, regardless of one’s background or familiarity with the material. For more information, please contact John at the church or at
  • Thrift Shop – Volunteers Needed!
    • Matthew’s Thrift Shop re-opened on Wednesday, September 6th. The regular hours are Wednesdays from 10am to 3:30pm and Saturdays from 11am to 2pm.
    • We are in need of volunteers to help in the shop. If you are interested and able to help, please call the church office at 403-249-1721 or email at

Office Hours

Our regular Office Hours are Monday through Fridays from 9am to 3pm.

Of those hours, Wendy is in the office on Mondays from 11am to 3pm, and Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 3pm.

This week, John will be the office from Mondays through Thursdays from at least 9am until 3pm or later, although he may be out on Pastoral Visits or meetings as time demands. From October 10th to 15th inclusive, John will be on Study Leave in preparation for his Evolution of the Bible series. As Study Leave is not the same as vacation, John is still reachable in case of emergency, as he is not leaving the city.


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