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Good morning! My name is Steve McKay – I have been attending St. John’s on and off since I was born.

I’m a lifelong music lover and musician. It is a major part of my identity, something that I am very passionate about and I attribute that passion partially to my upbringing here at St. John’s. My earliest musical memory is singing in the Junior Choir under the tutelage of Mrs. Price when I was maybe five or so.

Another early memory is Susan Little and Suzanne Adams leading a “Second Sunday” service up in the chancel, Susan with her nylon string guitar and Suzanne Adams playing the same guitar she uses today at the Discovery service. I also remember that we got to have donuts after those services...

Perhaps one of my favourite memories is jamming in my basement as a teenager with Margaret DeNew and our newly minted worship band, Anglicanwefunk.

Suffice it to say that music ministry at St. John’s has shaped the musician that I am today.

Just as the church has shaped my musical self, music has shaped my church self. Ten years ago, I had stopped attending church and there was a very good chance that I was going to be one of those kids who grew up in church and never came back. Thankfully, I was invited to sing in a church choir. I wasn’t especially interested in the Church-part, mostly I liked the idea of exercising my musical muscles. Guess what? I started going to church regularly to sing in the choir and all of a sudden I’m diving head first into Christianity.

Music is funny like that - it’s a wonderful gateway for people to enter the church.

Here at St. John’s we have embraced that gateway, most recently in our concert project. Six or seven years ago, we started hosting concerts in the Sanctuary. In that time, we have hosted well over 100 events with thousands and thousands of people coming to St. John’s, finding themselves sitting in our pews.

I should emphasize that we aren’t simply renting out our space to artists so that they have somewhere to perform. We are hosting the event, with an emphasis on hospitality. When people come to our church for a concert, it is an opportunity to connect and we do our best to do so.

It has been a major investment of time and resources, but those investments are paying dividends: we have raised the profile of the congregation, we have engaged our community and drawn people into the parish. The investment continues this summer with our plans to rebuild the stage area, at once addressing the needs of our concert project and as well as our needs on Sunday morning – including full accessibility for the stage, chancel and communion rail. It’s very exciting.

When I initially proposed that we host concerts sixyears ago, that’s basically what I hoped would happen and I’m grateful that it worked out.

What I didn’t expect - something that I couldn’t have anticipated - was the way that the concert project allowed me to express myself as a Christian. Personally, I struggle to put it out there that I’m Christian, even in my own social circles. It’s the kind of thing that I keep to myself, but mostly because it doesn’t come up. Why would it?

Well you can’t do that when you host a concert in your church. It is out there loud and clear: "I am a member of this Anglican church." Now everybody knows and I find myself embracing that identity more and more.

I am grateful for the love of music instilled in me here in this place and for the opportunity to grow in faith as we use music to draw people into the church.