Who We Are
The Church of the Ascension conceived in the early 1950’s, outgrew its first church building on Park Avenue. The present building on Smallwood Drive was constructed in 1978, and consecrated in 1983. Our congregation grew necessitating the start-up of a new congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd, also in Mount Pearl. The Church of the Ascension, situated as it is on Smallwood Drive, a main artery of the City of Mount Pearl it is no small coincidence that the Ascension symbolizes the very street on which it exists. For, it is a hub within the community stretching out its many branches in an assortment of ways to serve the neighborhood.
We are an active parish involved in outreach to the community, and therefore engage in a wide variety of ongoing social projects. Through Racing with the Reverend – with the aid of key sponsors and volunteers – we have raised in excess of $80,000 in a two year period for the Autism Society, Newfoundland and Labrador. Periodically the parish responds to immediate needs with outreach projects, such as A Christmas for Giving (Raising $11,000 for Hurricane Sandy Relief) and Remember the Fifty (Raising $1600 for Lac Megantic Survivors), and Ride for Refuge (with Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund, raising $1500 for South Sudanese Refugees). Our ministry with the PWRDF Fund has been ongoing where we have donated an average of $14,000 each year over the past ten years.
The parish contributes to ongoing community partnerships annually, including Mount Pearl’s The Frosty Festival, and the local Community Foodsharing Association Foodbank. Every Christmas we fill in excess of twenty food hampers as well as donating to the CBC Turkey Drive. A number of years ago we launched the highly entertaining outreach project, Dancing with the Priests. This raised $35,000 for Vibrant Communities, St. John’s Region. In addition, we have started discussions with the City of Mount Pearl and local politicians to use the Parish Centre as a warming center in times of power outages or emergencies.
Related to these ministries we have opened our doors freely and widely to the community and have provided a meeting place for a number of organizations that have a great need, but few resources. Both the A.A. and The Healthy Baby Club (With the Brighter Futures Coalition) have benefited from our compassion. Several other assemblies, including Tai Chi, Yoga, The Girl Guides of Canada, and Young Rembrandts have rented our basement and kitchen facilities. We have a long term lease with the Little People’s Workshop, Inc., for rental purposes of the former rectory. Over sixty children use this facility five days a week, which is located adjacent to the church, and shares the parking facilities.
Characterized as a mature, program sized parish with 330 of our 753 families aged sixty-five or older, our youth ministry continues to remain vibrant within our church. Groups including nursery, Godly Play, Confirmation, Junior Choir, Ascension Dance Troupe, Servers Guild, Youth Group, Vacation Bible School, CLAY Youth, and C.L.B. remain integral to our parish identity. Both our vestry and our sidepersons association are represented by youth members from our worship family. Music, championed by the professional and experienced ear of our organist, Ina Kearley, remains a central theme to us. The Junior Choir, Senior Choir, and ‘Saints and Sinners’ band assist Mrs. Kearley in the delivery of excellent music for worship. To this end, within the last year we have raised over $38,000 towards the purchase of a new organ as well as the modifications required for its installation.
At the Ascension, we have adopted a team ministry approach which has proven to be successful in worship and extends well beyond the scope of the church. We have seamlessly integrated a handful of retired clergy into our services on a regular basis. Their value to our parishioners courses much deeper than simply delivering sermons or celebrating communion. Their numerous contributions to our parish society and the personal experiences they bring are irreplaceable.
Our laypeople comprise an essential component of the activities of the Ascension. In addition to assisting with the delivery of worship and being first in line to roll up their sleeves with any given activity, they become an extension of the Rector, the Associate Priest, and the staff team with their considerable contributions.
The Parish of the Ascension has adopted a six fold emphasis of ministry, identifying the six key areas of ministry as Worship, Discipleship, Proclamation, Outreach, Pastoral Care, and Fellowship. These are noted in our website. In the area of Proclamation particularly, the parish engages in making the Gospel relevant and accessible in various ways. The parish continues to operate a website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, blog, and has a parish newsletter emailed out each week.
It is worthy to note that the Ascension engages in diverse liturgical practices. The Parish uses The Book of Common Prayer, The Book of Alternative Services, The Wee Worship Book, and liturgies from the Anglican Church of Wales as its primary resources. The worship blends traditional and contemporary worship using Eucharistic forms, Evening Prayer, Healing Liturgies, and Family Morning Prayer liturgies. We worship three times every Sunday (8:30am, 11:00am, and 6:30pm) as well as weekday mornings. Clergy are expected to deliver four meaningful sermons each week. The book of Common Praise and the Hymnal are used as the primary music resources. At times we also use our Supplementary Song Book, and other musical resources to enhance the worship. Clergy are not expected to lead all worship. The Ascension has a rich history of enabling the laity to lead in prayer and worship. CLAY Youth participate in our services occasionally as well as the Vacation Bible School participants. During Advent and Lent, children open and close the liturgies with special prayers. Each Lent, different organizations within the parish lead the Lenten Evening Liturgies.
Pastoral Ministry at the parish of the Ascension is paramount. Each week the Rector and Associate have designated areas and families to visit. These visits are recorded in the parish database for statistics and future planning. The Ascension ministers to four local personal care homes in partnership with the Parish of the Good Shepherd and the Parish of New Hope. The Rector and Associate share hospital visitation ministry. The Associate Priest has had an emphasis on visitation to seniors, home communion visitation, and hospital follow up. On average, the Associate Priest completes 70% of the parish clergy visits. In addition, the Associate Priest has responsibility to coordinate the Parish Network Visitors, and enable the vibrant lay visitation that is in place.
It is our vision at the Ascension to extend our development beyond the margins of our immediate neighbourhood. We are seeking to establish a presence in surrounding areas of residential growth. This would include Brookfield Plains, Blackmarsh Road subdivision, Kenmount Park, as well as the expansive Southlands and newly identified Galway development area. The daunting challenge before us, of course, is lack of available human resources. Our aim is to evolve a committee to identify and germinate an approach that would enable us to integrate these communities into our parish fabric.
Recognizing our inherited Anglican tradition of organ music, we are hoping to create a shift in our program to entice, and more importantly, retain a more involved youth presence at the Ascension. With this growth, new ideas, energy, and creativity are bound to follow.
A new concept has been created concerning our baptismal follow up. The plan, still in its developing phase is to establish a team of laity to work in conjunction with clergy to visit the families of the newly baptized. We have determined that a vast majority of these families are first time visitors, and, as such, may be seeking a parish to attend. The purpose of these consultations would be to not only welcome them to our family, but also to share with them the variety of experiences of which one can avail when becoming a family member at the Ascension. The objective would be to identify any needs they might have, and how our parish could be of value in fulfilling those needs.