Zion Calendar

Monday, 7 April 2014

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

April 4, 2014

Dear Friends,

I was in Edmonton last week for the whole week. I haven’t been travelling a lot since taking on family responsibilities three years ago, but this was important.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created out of the settlement agreement between Aboriginal groups, churches, and the federal government to address the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, held its seventh and final national event It was the same week that all of the Conference Executive Secretaries and Speaker would normally have gathered in Toronto to meet with management staff from the General Council Office for our semi-annual “staff leaders” meeting, so we held those meetings in Edmonton instead to enable the whole group to be part of the Truth and Reconciliation event.

The United Church of Canada was instrumental in forging the settlement agreement 8 years ago and, with the leadership of successive Moderators and the Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools Committee, this work has been high priority for us ever since. With the Commission’s mandate just over a year from completion, the Commissioners are entering their writing phase, and the churches and other parties are reflecting on the work that will need to continue after the Commission’s work is completed.

For anyone who has not been to any of the national or regional Truth and Reconciliation events, I can just say that they are a powerful experience. Well, I will say more, but in saying it I recognize that whatever I tell will convey so much less than having direct encounters and hearing the stories of individual survivors.

There were a lot of United Church people there: in addition to the Moderator and staff leaders, there were many from Alberta and Northwest Conference and neighbouring Conferences, significant groups from Toronto Conference and the All Native Circle Conference, and the president of London Conference. I kept running into people I knew, and I know there were many others I didn’t see. I was struck by comments from people who had heard about these issues for years, and were surprised to find the depth of understanding that came through experiencing this event. Hearing the stories, told with anger and with grace, simply is terribly moving.

I was one who approached the event with some degree of apprehension. I’ve heard some of these painful stories before and seen the impacts of the residential schools on friends and colleagues. I knew it would be a painful time, and it was. It was also an uplifting time and a time of learning. I’ve encountered some of the difficult stories before, but there is so much that I haven’t heard, that I don’t know. For any of us who did not attend residential school, we will never fully comprehend the experience, and can always seek deeper understanding.

Being the United Church representative in a listening circle with a group of survivors was an uncomfortable yet precious experience. The experiences those survivors told have left strong images in my mind of the children they were and the things they experienced.

Here was a young teen sent home after a year at her school because of her rebellious nature, now doing healing work helping others in her community come to grips with the aftermath of their residential school experiences.

Here was a lonely 6-year-old who wanted to go to school to be with his older sisters, but wasn’t allowed to talk to them at the school. Instead he talked to the moon he saw out the window at night and thought of it shining over his parents at home, too. The gentle elder remembering these things said he learned to cope by supressing his emotions.

Here was an elder who has shared traditional spiritual practices with people in his First Nation, and others across Canada and in other parts of the world. A holy man. He studied the Bible at residential school, but knows the sacred truths it contains were broken in the way the students were treated.

Here was an elder telling of his 4-year-old self leaving on a boat, and looking back to see his mother crying on the shore. The abuse that followed at the school was so shockingly different from what he had known at home. Sixty years later, the sense of desolation is still there.

There are common threads through these experiences, and yet each story is unique, personal, and important.

Statements made on behalf of the United Church, and the Canadian Council of Churches, left me feeling both proud and humble.

Many elements of the event were livestreamed , and we have posted videos on the United Church’s YouTube channel. There was so much to hear, and so much to say about the experience of hearing these things.

The Truth and Reconciliation experience is heavy, but not unrelentingly so. Part of the way survivors cope is by enjoying visits with schoolmates, sharing funny memories, looking at pictures of themselves as kids, and lifting up hopes for better lives for children and grandchildren.

Personally, I found balance in enjoying visits with church friends, northern friends, First Nations and Inuit friends, non-Aboriginal friends, survivors, and the next generations.

It is in relationship, as well as lifting up the painful stories that must never be forgotten, that we will, together, figure out the things to do to make sure that these things are never repeated. There is a place for all in our church, and all Canadians, in this process.

Peace be with you.


The Zion Family sends our Sympathies and Condolences to the family of Kirk MacLeod

Kirk MacLeod passed away early Sunday morning April 6, 2014 after a long battle with cancer. The Zion United Church has set up Love Offering for Kirk's children, in support of Gabriel and Cleo's Education Fund. You can donate through the Church on Sunday's or you can donate through the fund which is explained below. 


The following is a message from a friend of Kirk MacLeod's who set up the KIRK FUND to help the family of Kirk MacLeod. 

When you meet Kirk MacLeod you come away with a strong sense of the kind of man he is: passionate, driven, fearless. Whether you met Kirk in a war zone during his UN service or in the water while he was training for the BIG SWIM, you remember him. His presence alone leaves others inspired to push themselves out of their comfort zones and to work harder to reach their dreams. You get the feeling that Kirk has never met a challenge he didn’t take on 110%. He inspires us all. 

In the past year we have seen Kirk handle a great deal of personal hardship and loss with strength and grace. He amazed us all when he registered for the BIG SWIM shortly after finishing cancer treatments. He was not a swimmer yet he committed to the challenge, trained hard, raised a great deal of money for a children’s charity and not only finished the swim but walked out of the water in PEI strong and proud. 

Always willing to give of himself for the benefit of others, Kirk has shared himself with us as a media spokesman for the BIG SWIM and has motivated both the BIG SWIM and BIG RIDE participants with his story. When others may have preferred privacy, Kirk bravely told us all about his cancer story, the struggles and the triumphs, and left us all feeling motivated to do more, give more and live better. 

Many of us touched by Kirk’s story want to help. His friends and family were happy to donate to his BIG SWIM fundraising efforts but there is a strong urge to do more to support Kirk and his family directly during this difficult time. As you can imagine, the financial situation over the last several years has been difficult for Kirk & Paige.  We all know Kirk to be a very proud man who's reluctance to ask for financial assistance has been prominent.  Kirk has only just returned to his home after once again being admitted suddenly into the hospital, and underwent yet another surgery.  After many requests and some prodding, Kirk and Paige have reluctantly agreed to a fundraising effort, with the caveat that the funds will go to support their children. We may not be able to be there in person to bring a hot dinner or lend a helping hand but we can band together to support this amazing family by giving them an amazing experience.


It's National Volunteer Week Apr 6-12.

Greetings from the General Council Office,

To recognize and celebrate National Volunteer Week (April 6–12, 2014), the United Church’s Moderator, the Right Rev. Gary Paterson, has written a letter of thanks to the many thousands of United Church members and adherents who generously volunteer their time and talents every day.

The Moderator’s letter can be found at the end of this message. It is also posted on The United Church of Canada’s website
http://www.united-church.ca/communications/news/general/140404 as a PDF document so that, if you wish, the letter can be printed and posted on a bulletin board or copied and given to volunteers in your congregation.

Also, as a special tribute during National Volunteer Week, we are inviting United Church individuals and congregations to celebrate the contribution of the volunteers in their midst by telling us about what they—and you—are doing and how this work has had a positive impact in the community.

Please post your tributes on The United Church of Canada’s Facebook page:

Mary-Frances Denis
Program Coordinator
Media and Public Relations
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016

Moderator’s Letter

Friday, April 4, 2014
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4–7 (NRSV)
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I am writing today as Moderator to say thank you to the many thousands of volunteers who are part of our United Church family.

Volunteers are the heart, soul, and backbone of The United Church of Canada from coast to coast to coast. It’s impossible to calculate the number of volunteer hours offered each day, week, month, and year in congregations and communities throughout Canada and around the world; the positive impact of that work is equally immeasurable. But when you stop to think about it, even within your own congregation, it is truly impressive.

In my travels as Moderator, I have met many hundreds of faithful volunteers, all of whom have offered countless hours in service to others. And United Church people don’t limit their volunteering to church activities—you will find them involved in projects that benefit the whole community, assisting individuals in need, and contributing their time and talents in ways that help to make this a better world.

Whether it’s working at a food bank, being a volunteer driver, organizing a fundraiser, or visiting a patient in hospital, there is always much to do. And you do it, faithfully, generously, and with a smile.

Thank you.
The Right Rev. Gary Paterson
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Thursday, 27 March 2014

PRESS RELEASE: United Church Members Are Being Asked to Sign a Pledge for Medicare

For Immediate Release                                                                      
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

United Church Members Are Being Asked to Sign a Pledge for Medicare

Toronto: For 60 years The United Church of Canada has advocated in support of universal health care. Now the church is calling on its members to sign the Medicare Pledge launched by the Canadian Health Coalition, a public advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation and improvement of Medicare.

The Medicare Pledge is part of an ongoing campaign spearheaded by the coalition, of which the United Church is a member. In part, the pledge says that “quality health care must be based on need, not ability to pay” and that we “must improve our public health care for everyone, instead of expanding private for-profit services that benefit only a few.” So far over 10,000 Canadians and more than 100 organizations, including the United Church, have signed the pledge.

The United Church’s call for its members to sign the Medicare Pledge comes just days before a National Day of Action for a New Health Accord on March 31. The day of action coincides with the date that the current health accord between the federal government, the provinces, and the territories expires. Thus far, the federal government has refused to renegotiate the agreement.
The coalition argues that without a new health accord it will be impossible to ensure national health care standards across the country.

“Medicare is not something that Canadians should take for granted,” says The United Church of Canada’s Moderator, the Right Rev. Gary Paterson. “Signing the Medicare Pledge is one way to ensure that, for generations to come, the health care system that we have been privileged to enjoy is preserved and protected.”

For more than half a century, the United Church has supported the concept of universally accessible health care for all Canadians. In 1954, the church first endorsed the principle of a national health insurance plan, and urged all levels of government to move toward the establishment of such a plan. In 1994, it strongly affirmed its support for the core principles of Medicare: that Canada’s health care system remains universal, accessible, comprehensive, portable, and publicly administered.

To sign the Medicare Pledge go to http://medicare.ca/medicare-pledge .

For more information
Mary-Frances Denis
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016

Monday, 24 March 2014

Sherbrooke Lake Summer Camp NOW OPEN for Registration



General Secretary's Weekly Letter

March 21, 2014

Dear Friends,

In a recent conversation, a wise person of our church said that for him, worship was really about being grateful.

I liked that description, and yet realized that sometimes I struggle to find that gratefulness. This week has been one of those times.

We got back from holidays a week ago to the news that the wonderful pre-teen daughter of good friends had within the previous week been diagnosed with cancer and died. There is no sense to be made of it, no way to justify the giant hole left in this close family, and the deep loss for all the classmates, teammates, friends, and relatives left behind. A young girl on the verge of womanhood, a proud farm girl, a bright student, an active participator in soccer and dance and 4H, a girl whose calm nature attracted the confidence of animals, a loving sister and daughter, is gone. Gone in the same instant are all the treasured hopes and dreams for her future.

Gratefulness isn't the first thing that comes to mind.

If I dig deep enough, there are things to be grateful for. The grieving family has a wide circle of friends and family offering love and support. They have a church community and a faith base that gives them a framework to grapple with their stark new reality. These things can’t erase their pain, but surely they offer comfort, at least some of the time.  

I am grateful for God’s love that surrounds us always, at the times we feel grateful, at the times we feel angry, and even the times when we feel most distant from God. 

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” May it be so.


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Zion United would like to send Condolences and Sympathies to the family of Malcolm Charlton

Charlton; Malcolm Anthony

Charlton; Malcolm Anthony
CHARLTON -- Malcolm Anthony, 67, of Liverpool, formerly of Montreal.  It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of a dear husband and father on Sunday, March 16, 2014. 
             Born in Montreal, Quebec, he was the son of the late Earl and Agnes-Marie Charlton (MacKenzie).  
Malcolm’s pride and joy was his family, which included not only his wife and daughter, but his dear friends and fellow Masons.  He felt it an honour and a privilege to be elected Worshipful Master of Zetland Lodge #9, his only regret is that he was too ill to serve.
Malcolm’s passion lay in radio and television production, an industry that saw him produce and direct numerous documentaries and variety programming, work in the CBC national radio newsroom and run the CBC Montreal newsroom.  Malcolm was director of Hockey Night in Canada for nine years and was at the helm of National finals in a multitude of other important sports broadcasts, and later worked at CTV Montreal and 940News prior to his retirement. Even in retirement though, Malcolm could not stay away.  He was a significant presence from the outset at Liverpool’s QCCR radio before starting his own daily news site, Queens County Close-up.
Malcolm leaves to mourn his loving wife of 45 years, Linda (Ridley), his daughter Phaedra (Jamie Huskins), special friend Kathleen Quinlan, new and old friends and Masonic brothers, all of whom offered Malcolm such overwhelming support. 
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Chandlers’ Funeral Home, Liverpool.   Visitation to be held at Chandlers’ on Sunday, March 23, 2014, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Funeral service will be held at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church, Liverpool, March 24, 2014, at 11:00am, Fr Keith Billard officiating.  Reception immediately following at the Trinity Anglican Church Hall. Burial will be at a later date.  No flowers by request.  Donations may be made to the Queens Branch of the SPCA, PO Box 2012, Liverpool, NS, B0T 1K0 Online condolences may be made to www.chandlersfuneral.com
The family would particularly like to thank Dr. Norah Mogan and the staff at Queens General for their thoughtful and compassionate care of the entire family during Malcolm’s final hours. 

A Message from Rev Sheila

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Zion sends sympathies and condolences to the family of Bob Stafford

Stafford; Robert Edward

Stafford; Robert Edward
STAFFORD -- Robert Edward,  77, of Liverpool, passed away suddenly on Monday, March 10, 2014 in Halifax Infirmary.
Born in Sherbrooke, PQ, he was a son of  the late Leonard and Grace (Webster) Stafford.
Robert was a partner in his own chartered accounting firm, Stafford, Lyon and Noble, in Sherbrooke before moving to Nova Scotia in 1978, working with Cecil Smith, and eventually beginning a new firm Stafford and Raymond. He “retired” in mid 2006. He was an active member and past president of the local Progressive Conservative Party as well as a past president of the Kiwanis Club of Liverpool.  He enjoyed curling, fishing, antiquing and the outdoors. He will be fondly remembered as a kind, unassuming, true gentleman who gave generously of his love, time and talents to family, friends and co-workers. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
He is survived by his wife Sandra (Saanum), his daughter Rachel (Patrick) Stiles of Hammonds Plains.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Chandlers’ Funeral Home, Liverpool where visitation will be held Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 7 until 9 p.m.  Funeral service will be held Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. in Zion United Church, Liverpool. Reverend Sheila Redden-Smith officiating. Burial will be held at a later date. No flowers by request. Donations may be made to QEII Foundation, the Queens General Hospital Foundation or to any charity. Online condolences may be made to  www.chandlersfuneral.com

Monday, 10 March 2014

Zion sends Sympathies & Condolences to the Family of Betty Killam

Killam; Mary Elizabeth

Killam; Mary Elizabeth
KILLAM -  Mary Elizabeth “Betty”,  91, of Liverpool passed away peacefully on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at home surrounded by family.
Born in Moncton, NB., she was a daughter of the late George and Verna (Mann) Reid.
Betty was a seamstress and dress maker for most of her life and a former salesclerk with Liverpool Ladies Wear for over 13 years. She was an avid sports fan enjoying many sports such as curling, golf, bowling and badminton to name a few. She enjoyed baseball and was a Liverpool Larruper  and Boston Red Sox fan. She loved to knit, do needle point, rug braiding and refinishing wooden furniture by hand. She loved to cook, bake and was well known within the family as the maker of the “best lobster chowder around”. She was an avid bridge player and played in marathon bridge tournaments. She enjoyed gardening and “spoiling” her cats.
She is survived by her daughters Shaune (Gordon) MacLeod of Liverpool, Randi (Ted) Dickie of Brooklyn and Patricia VanBeek of Eagle Head. Her sons William “Bill” of Sandy Cove and Greg (Lisa) of Liverpool. (13) thirteen grandchildren and (7) seven great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her husband Arthur P., her daughter Elizabeth Keating, sons-in-law James Keating and Joseph VanBeek, sisters Anna and Phyllis Parker.
Cremation has taken place under the direction of Chandlers’ Funeral Home, Liverpool. Funeral service will be Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. from Zion United Church, Liverpool. Reverend Sheila Redden-Smith officiating. Burial will be at a later date.  No flowers by request. Donations may be made to Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia or to Queens General Hospital Foundation. Online condolences may be made to www.chandlersfuneral.com

A Message from Rev Sheila

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

March 4, 2014

Dear Friends,

I’m looking forward to a supper of pancakes drizzled (or drenched!) with syrup along with a sausage or two to balance all that sweetness. This meal, eaten in a busy church, is one I have enjoyed pretty well every year of my life. I probably have missed a year or two along the way, but can’t quite recall when.

This tradition marks the beginning of Lent. It is good to have this modest time of celebration before beginning the time of deprivation or at least spiritual reflection that helps us prepare for the grief of Good Friday followed by the joy of Easter.

For all those involved with congregational pancake suppers, you might find it fun to take part in the first-ever United Church Pancake Supper Census (Clearly we don’t collect enough statistics already, but this sounds like fun!)

The United Church website connects us to a wealth of resources we can use during Lent. Lent happens every year, but every year we seem to want—and come up with—new ways to explore it.

For those who enjoy trying new ways to engage, our Moderator Gary Paterson has developed Turn Around and Take Off, an online Lenten study. I know he worked away at that during some of his time “off” after New Year’s, and I’m excited to see it unfold.

I understand one of the participants in the online study will be Debbie McMillan, who wrote Confronted by Jesus, the United Church’s study book for this Lenten season. I have already started looking at that book and plan to use it through these coming weeks, even taking it with me for reflection on our spring break vacation.

I go back and forth about whether to mark Lent by giving something up or simply committing to a pattern of daily reflection. I noticed in the new Observer a reference to Lee Simpson’s blog about her year of buying nothing, and I went to the site and read some of her commentary about making this commitment and living it out. I have to admit that I am not quite up to the commitment that Lee has made, but she has inspired me to think that for Lent this year, I would like to try a more limited version, by refraining from buying anything for myself except for food and basic toiletries. As the parent of a teenager, I think it might be unfair to him to make a blanket commitment to not buy anything at all for the next 40 days, but even this lesser “sacrifice” will make me think. I do love acquiring, either new or second-hand, all kinds of nice things for the home, but perhaps this time of Lent will help me realize how many things I don’t really need.

May you find challenge, peace, and meaning in your own journey through Lent.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

February 12, 2014


Dear Friends,

I always get excited when the Olympics are on. It’s really the only time when I am an avid sports fan. Like many Canadians, I particularly enjoy the winter Olympics. These mornings when I’m out for a quick cross-country ski before work, I think of those incredible skiers I saw on TV, powering uphill at the end of their 30-kilometre race—even though I’ll never be competitive in skiing or any other sport!

In the media coverage, you hear some wonderful stories about the journeys the athletes have taken to get to the point of competing in the Olympics. They have trained day after day when they felt like it and when they didn’t, setting aside other parts of their young lives, pushing themselves to extreme physical limits. There are stories of family support and sacrifice, of injuries overcome, of rivalries and friendships.

We watch these athletes with fascination as they push beyond their limits, risking doing their best, in a very public way.

Like most people with jobs and busy lives, I have been watching the Olympics this week at night or very early in the morning. In between, I spent a couple of days with the Comprehensive Review Task Group. Talk about people who set aside their own lives and work hard for a greater good.

Members have the sense of having risked in a most public way, too, with the release last week of Fishing on the Other Side , a discussion paper that contains some preliminary structural concepts for the church that is going to presbyteries and others for comment and advice. Members of the task group have toiled over the ideas in the discussion paper, and now they are offering it to the church to work with.

The facilitated conversations with communities of faith that the task group initiated between April 2013 and January 2014 showed there is a lot of openness to change in the United Church. Just what those changes should be, though, is a discussion that is far from over!

Those Olympic athletes have cheering sections back home that support their efforts. I heard from Yellowknife friends about a gathering at 4 a.m. at the field house where local speed skaters train, so supporters could watch together the preliminary heat of their local Olympian, Michael Gilday. I’m sure this week there have been hometown gatherings like that in many arenas and village halls and basement rec rooms across Canada.

Towards the end of this week’s meeting of the Comprehensive Review Task Group, one of the members shared a note of encouragement he had received from a friend. It wasn’t a message of support for all the ideas offered – it wasn’t about that. Rather, it was a recognition of the effort, dedication, and vision the task group and people across our church are offering as we look together to the future.

Excellence, exceptional effort, commitment, and risk… may God bless all who offer these gifts.


Wednesday, 12 February 2014

General Council News Release

For Immediate Release
Friday, February 7, 2014

Canada Must Continue to Oppose Russia's Anti-LGBTQ Laws

Toronto: The United Church of Canada sent a letter today congratulating Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird on the stance he has taken in support of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) people in Russia.

"Your leadership in advocating for the protection of the human rights of all people, especially those who are most marginalized, such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and queer people in Russia, underscores Canada's commitment to protecting and promoting human rights globally," says the letter.

The letter notes that the United Church, Canada's largest Protestant denomination, has long supported acceptance and inclusion of all human beings as persons made in the image of God regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"As Christians, we reject the assertion that homosexuality is an offence against God and threatens the 'spiritual values' of a culture," says the letter.

The letter continues, "Cultures that last and are life-giving build in correctives to myths and rumours not based in fact. Much of the work in the struggle against the HIV/AIDS pandemic has focused on dispelling myths and ending marginalization on the basis of sexual orientation."

The complete text of the letter to John Baird is available on The United Church of Canada's website ( www.united-church.ca ).

For more information
Mary-Frances Denis
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (office)
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016 (toll free)

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Zion Family sends Condolences to Alene Seaman


The Zion United Church would like to express our sympathies and send our condolences to the families of Alene Seaman. 


Seaman; Alene Shupe
SEAMAN -- Alene Shupe,  92, of Liverpool, Queens County, passed away peacefully in Queens General Hospital, Liverpool on January 30, 2014.
Born in Charleston, Queens County, she was a daughter of the late Boardman and Frances (Anthony) Shupe.
Known for her cooking and knitting, Alene continued to volunteer with functions in Charleston as long as she was able and produced many pairs of mittens for the Queens General Hospital Hustle. She operated a small restaurant in Sandy Cove in her younger days and was an employee of Queens Manor for a number of years.
She is survived by her daughters Sandy (David) Bessonette of Dartmouth, Paula (Dr. Al.) Doucet of Liverpool, grandchildren Dr. Paul Bessonette and Jack Bessonette, Nikki Doucet and Andre Doucet, several nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her sister Phyllis Anthony and brothers Earl and Eugene.

The full obituary for Alene Seaman can be found at the address below:


The Zion Family sends Condolences to Betty Minard


The Zion United Church would like to express our sympathies and send our condolences to the families of Betty Minard. 

Minard; Cora Elizabeth “Betty”
Minard, Cora Elizabeth “Betty”, 89, of Liverpool, passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 25th, 2014, in Queens Manor, Liverpool.
Born in Liverpool, she was a daughter of the late Andrew and Margaret (Ryer) Norman.
Betty was a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, a life member of the I.O.D.E. and the UCW. She enjoyed bridge and travelling with her late husband Alan.
She is survived by her sister Myra (A.V. “Bert”) Wiles of Liverpool, stepdaughter Patricia of Caledonia and stepson Richard of Ottawa, sister-in-law Sue Norman of Liverpool and brother-in-law William Mulhall of Hantsport.
She was predeceased by her husband Alan, sisters Myrtle Mouzar, Aileen Huskins, Phyllis Swim, Barbara Mulhall, Daisy English, Margaret Sagloski; brothers Maurice and Douglas and stepdaughter Janice.

The full obituary for Betty Minard can be found at the address below:

Monday, 27 January 2014

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

January 22, 2014

Dear Friends,

This is the World Council of Churches (WCC) Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

It’s quite a mouthful, but I always love the idea of joining in prayer with people all over the world. (Or at least in the northern hemisphere. I note from the WCC website that the southern hemisphere does it during Pentecost. I’m not sure what that says about unity, except that it is something we Christians continue to work toward.)

The scriptural theme for the Week of Prayer this year is 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 , a rich passage that speaks of the grace offered to all of us, and the importance of there being no differences or quarrels amongst the people of the church. Surely, there is much to pray about in this passage.

At the General Council Office (joined by colleagues in Manitou Conference), we are praying through this week using a “week of guided prayer” model. I’m excited to be taking part. It’s voluntary, of course, but those who signed up are enjoying the opportunity to spend time each day reflecting on scripture, discussing it in groups of two or three, and praying together.

It wasn’t too complicated to plan. (Although perhaps that’s easy for me to say when Alydia Smith did most of the planning, and other colleagues here wrote reflections and prayers for each day!) Anyway, it’s kind of humbling to reflect that even working in a church office, we intentionally have to create an opportunity to pray and reflect on scripture together.

I know many others are better than I am about regular daily spiritual practice, but I also suspect there are others like me who need to be prompted in this way from time to time.

No matter how faithful we are in our regular practices, taking part in a focused prayer exercise like this is a wonderful opportunity for renewal. I’m appreciating going deeper into some familiar passages of scripture, and having conversations with colleagues that are simply about our faith. We’ve commented that these conversations and their scriptural sources come to mind at different times during the day, in our work, and the rest of our lives.

As a church, we are in the midst of extensive reflection and planning about our structures and the kind of church we want to be in the future. Through prayer and scripture, we are reminded that the guidance we need is there for us. Thanks be to God.


Monday, 13 January 2014

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

January 20, 2014

Greetings in this new year.

On the first Sunday of the new year, the man who was to read the scripture got up at the beginning of the service and talked about how important this congregation has been to him. He explained that not too long after he had started attending, a serious car accident had left his two young children with severe injuries. He said he didn’t know what he would have done through that time, and the days and months that followed, without the support of the ministers and the people of the congregation.

It was deeply touching, and at the same time not at all surprising to anyone rooted in church life. We treasure, and yet somehow expect, that a congregation will embrace those in need and accompany them through the sorrows and joys of life. It isn’t just about community either; as people of faith, we are offered a greater context for experiencing the things in life that we simply can’t make sense of. We accept that there are mysteries beyond human understanding, and we trust that God’s love surrounds us in our times of need.

The richness of a life in faith is something too precious ever to be taken for granted.

Hearing this brief testimony during worship, I wondered how we could do better at sharing with those outside congregations and outside church life the strength and comfort that is offered to followers of Christ.

Sometimes, I get the impression that people who aren’t part of church think our lives are all about following commandments and seeing the world through a lens of great certainty. For me, it is much more about being part of a community that equips me to live with mystery and paradox.

Yesterday’s online discussion forum on www.UnitedFuture.ca was about what evangelism means in the United Church. I appreciated the wonderful comments about the opportunities we have to share the good news of Jesus Christ. (For any who missed taking part in the live discussion, you can view it here.)

I’ve been thinking about these things this week, through Epiphany, as I have thought, too, about the magi, those wise men, those strangers who travelled from afar, following a star. They didn’t know where the star would lead them, and yet surely as they journeyed they must have speculated about it. We know they went first to King Herod’s palace – surely that is some indication of what they thought they were heading towards. I wonder what they made of it all when they got to that stable (or whatever humble setting the family had found its way to by then) and delivered their princely gifts to an infant in such improbable circumstances.

They must have been amazed: the star was so clearly showing them the place, and yet the scene must have required quite an adjustment in their expectations. From what we know of the story, though, they approached the baby Jesus with reverence. Perhaps their awe was even greater because the setting was so unexpected.

Think of the conversations they must have had as they journeyed home along their different route. Or were there things they left unsaid because they were just too puzzling to talk about?

If the story happened these days, maybe they would have continued to follow the life of the Prince of Peace on Twitter, but I wonder if those three visitors ever knew much about the man who Jesus grew up to be. Maybe it was enough to have that encounter with the infant Jesus in the manger. That moment, at the very beginning of Jesus’ life, was the life-changing one for them.

Can you tell this is one of my favourite stories? I think that is because so much is left to wonder about.

May you be blessed in your lives and your ministries as we embark on this new year.


A Message from Rev Sheila

Monday, 23 December 2013

United Church of Canada Syrian & Philippines Appeal Updates

December 20, 2013

Dear colleagues in ministry,

As we draw closer to Christmas and the birth of the Christ child, let us be mindful of the people of Syria and the Philippines, especially children, who continue to endure the severest of hardships. More than two million Syrians have been displaced by a brutal civil war with no end in sight. Some 14 million Filipinos are still reeling from the devastation caused by the worst typhoon to have struck their country in recorded history. The United Church of Canada has issued church-wide appeals in response to both crises, and both appeals will remain active into the New Year. Following are brief updates on those appeals.

Syria: United Church members have generously donated more than $141,000 to the church's Syria Refugee Appeal.

The funds have been used by United Church partner, the Middle East Council of Churches, and ACT Alliance in support of the 12 million Syrians affected by the war, including the 2.2 million who are refugees and currently experiencing harsh winter conditions with only tents for shelter. More than 1.1 million are children. The United Church also has sent a total of $60,000 to ACT from the Emergency Response Fund. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) has provided another $5.8 million worth of food aid to which the United Church has contributed funds. Also, we are working with the federal government to help find homes in Canada for Syrian refugees.

Your donations to the Syria Refugee Appeal have purchased much needed food, clean water, medicine, clothes, blankets, education programs for child refugees, and psychosocial counselling for refugees in distress. But much more is needed. This week, for example, the United Nations World Food Programme appealed to the international community for $6.5 billion in aid for the war-affected Syrians!

The United Church's Syria Refugee Appeal  - http://www.united-church.ca/syria  -  remains open into the New Year.

Philippines: More than $1.1 million has been donated to the United Church's Typhoon Haiyan Appeal - a testament to the compassion of faithful United Church members.

To date, $585,000 has been sent to ACT for programming in the Philippines. United Church partners, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), have each received $60,000. The funds have been used to purchase materials for temporary shelter, food, clean water, medicines, and psychosocial counseling. Additional funds will be sent to the NCCP, UCCP and ACT in the New Year for much needed rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

The United Church also has received a grant of $55,000 from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation. Augmented by some $45,000 from the United Church and other Canadian churches, it will be given to the NCCP for the purchase of seeds to help restore household food and agricultural production which was destroyed by tidal surges caused by the typhoon.

The United Church's Typhoon Haiyan Appeal - http://www.united-church.ca/haiyan  - remains open into the New Year. 

Once again, thank you for your tremendous outpouring of generosity in support of the people of Syria and the Philippines as well the United Church partners that are working tirelessly, throughout the holiday season, to assist them. As we celebrate the birth of the infant Jesus this year, let us keep them in our heartfelt thoughts and prayers. 

Yours in Christ,
Gary Kenny
Emergency Response Coordinator
The United Church of Canada

Monday, 16 December 2013

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

December 13, 2013

Dear Friends,

 It’s a cozy December evening at our house. We have the radio tuned to a station that plays non-stop Christmas music: a sprinkling of carols or gospel, but also the full mix of sentimental seasonal pop tunes that return year after year. In the other room, my twentysomething nephew and teenage son have taken a break from their uproarious enjoyment of a video game to work on a school assignment. I’ve been working on Christmas cards, and now am sitting down to write my “weekly letter.” (The quotations marks are because I missed last week in a run of meetings, and this may be the last one until the new year.)

We are looking forward to church on Christmas Eve, family gatherings, and all the traditions and wonders of this beautiful time of year. In the midst of spiritual preparation and holiday baking and all the rest, I’m also thinking of the many people whose lives this Advent are not filled with joy.

Thousands of people in the Philippines had their lives changed forever when they lost family members, homes, and livelihoods in the space of a few minutes of devastating weather. Canadians with relatives in the Philippines have felt the losses too, with the pain of being at a distance.

Families living in refugee camps in Syria and elsewhere are struggling to offer stability for their children after fleeing violence.

In Central Africa, hundreds of people, including children, have been killed through the violent conflicts between Christians and Muslims.

There will be empty places at Christmas tables in Lac Mégantic after the terrible rail accident in July that killed 47 people and destroyed the centre of their town.

The death of Nelson Mandela last week has left an empty place in the world, and in the hearts of so many people who found hope through his example.

These are just a few of the stories we know through the news. There are countless other stories of loss that people know in their own lives, the kinds of things that can make memories of happy Christmases painful.

But listen: the reading from Isaiah 35 for this Advent Sunday speaks daring words of hope in the midst of hardship.

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. … then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water … And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Each year, our suffering world receives anew the promise of a holy child who brings hope and joy. This sacred birth inspires us to reach out to help the hurts of the world. We know that the wondrous infant born in a stable grows up to offer a vision of a better world, a vision that calls us to care for others and stretch beyond our places of comfort.

May God bless our Advent preparations. May the infant Jesus renew our hope. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to share our love with the world.

Peace be with you at Christmas, and always.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Let's Make 2014 “The Year of Compassion!”

The folks at Zion United Church want to make the year 2014 “The Year of Compassion!” Beginning Feb. 3, Sheila Redden-Smith, invites you to begin a journey to pursue a year of living compassionately. Sheila will be leading a discussion group, using Karen Armstrong’s book, “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life,” which ought to be of interest to people of ages, genders, religious and non-religious affiliations. Everyone is invited. The plan is to gather the first Monday of each month at Lane’s Privateer Inn at 7 pm.  Let’s make Liverpool a more compassionate community! If you would like to attend, or would like further information, please call Sheila at 350-6814. Cost of book is $15. Deadline for registration is Jan. 6, 2014.

Remembering Nelson Mandela by Moderator Gary Patterson

General News and Announcements

Remembering Nelson Mandela

5 December 2013

As the world mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, Moderator Gary Paterson reflected on the life and legacy of Mandela.
“We have an opportunity today to remember the man – his determination to confront apartheid and injustice; his commitment to freedom and equality; his capacity to endure twenty-seven years of prison and emerge with his soul intact, able to forgive and embark on a journey of reconciliation, persuading others to follow along with him,” commented Paterson.
In this moment says Paterson, “We are called to give thanks for Mandela’s life – not simply to praise him, but to honour his memory with a determination to undertake a similar quest for wholeness, for ourselves and for the body politic.”
And, adds Paterson, “As we grieve his passing, I commend to you the following prayer, Remembering Mandela  printed below.

Remembering Mandela

For us, in our being, Mandela is gone:
We will no longer dance and march with him.
We will no longer hear him speak of justice, freedom, and peace.

For us, in our knowing, Mandela is changing:
He can no longer speak to us, but he can still be heard.
He can no longer touch us, but he can still be felt.

For us, in our thoughts, Mandela is alive:
We dance and march with him when we work for human dignity and rights.
We speak with him when we work for a world where one does not oppress another.

For us, in our actions, Mandela is here.
So as we journey with our siblings imprisoned by poverty, slavery,
and all forms of created suffering,
we will remember Mandela’s belief that we are all imprisoned until we are all free.

As we encounter forces of resistance that feel overwhelmingly insurmountable,
we will remember the integrity and grace with which Mandela held to his convictions while he was imprisoned for 27 years.

And as we give thanks to our Creator for the life of Mandela,
we will continue to pray for your comfort to surround the family, friends, and nation that mourn the loss of Madiba;
we will celebrate a life that perpetually worked for the good of all;
and we will affirm that his legacy will continue
in our memories and actions.

As we entrust him into your loving care,
may we commend him to our hearts.

Alydia Smith

Monday, 2 December 2013

Advent Generosity


The people of The United Church of Canada are being extremely generous. We are thankful for all the many gifts being given to serve God's mission. Your donations are an expression of compassion, build community and offer hope.

We are also grateful for the careful management of all financial gifts by ministers and lay people in congregations. All of this is happening in the context of stewarding gifts for our local ministry and Mission and Service, other year-end financial demands, while responding to the emergency appeal for Typhoon Haiyan.

Many year-end annual stewardship programs are wrapping up now and the focus turns to the spiritual practices and celebrations of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. There are many worship resources (http://www.united-church.ca/planning/seasons/advent) available on the United Church website. May this be a time of hope-fulfilling connection with people in your community, joyous celebration, and loving hospitality.

Mission and Service (http://www.united-church.ca/funding/msfund) campaigns are in high gear. We remain faithfully optimistic that United Church people are doing all that they can to encourage generous giving for Mission and Service and to forward these gifts as quickly as possible so that they are put to work. Already in 2013, the whole church has raised over $15 million Current M&S Givings (http://www.stewardshiptoolkit.ca/current-m-s-givings for Mission and Service work! We will receive Mission and Service contributions for 2013 until January 31, 2014. Please consider sending (http://www.united-church.ca/files/funding/msfund/cong_remittance.pdf) your Mission and Service gifts monthly or quarterly.

Thank you for making Mission and Service a vital part of the life and ministry of your church. What we accomplish is far greater than what any one of us could do alone. The generous financial support of each congregation makes all this possible.

The extraordinary response to the Typhoon Haiyan appeal is so inspiring. As usual, people are giving very generously. As well, we know there are many gifts on route from congregations. Be assured that funds are flowing to the partners on the ground to provide relief and begin long term reconstruction.

There is a new deadline for receiving individual donations eligible for matching funds from the Canadian government. The new deadline is December 23, 2013. This may be considered a mixed blessing for administration volunteers in congregations as reporting for so many things converge.

Remember that our way of working is always with partners in the region on the ground. This emergency funding and our long-term relationship with these partners increase the capacity of the Filipino people themselves to address such emergencies. The long-term relationship is sustained by your generous gifts for Mission and Service.

Daily updates of funds received will be posted on the website (http://www.united-church.ca/haiyan). You will find some other updates on the website including the FAQ sheet .

Gifts with Vision, (http://www.giftswithvision.ca/) the United Church's giving catalogue, is more popular than last year at this time. Gifts with Vision is a great way to give gifts, honour loved ones, spark a conversation about our hope for the world. Check out the Gifts with Vision badges and banners (http://www.giftswithvision.ca/page/downloads) for posting on your church's website. Thank you for being part of these hope-inspiring activities.

At year end in a year that provided strong growth in the stock market many donors are giving gifts of stock through the United Church of Canada Foundation to their local congregation. This saves in capital gains tax and supports the generosity of members across the country. The Foundation provides this service at no fee and can be contacted at fdn@united-church.ca; 866-340-8223.

All of these financial stewardship activities are taking place as we enter the time of patient waiting for the birth of the baby Jesus into the world and into our hearts. You know the best balance and focus for your community. We thank you for encouraging generous giving. In the flurry of activity, may we all take a moment (or more) to slow down and breathe in Advent's hope, peace, joy and love that prepares us for the work of relationship with our neighbour. It is there that we will find the Christ child.

David Armour
Director of Philanthropy
President of The United Church of Canada Foundation
416-231-7680, ext. 2022, or 1-800-268-3781, ext. 2022

Thursday, 28 November 2013

General Secretary's Weekly Letter

November 27, 2013

Dear friends,

This past weekend, we had our first snowfall of the season in Toronto. Earlier in the week, I and others in our part of the city were still raking leaves. There are a couple of maples in our yard that are always the last to lose their leaves.

The street behind our office building is lined with mid-sized ginkgo trees. This ancient tree grows naturally in China, but does well in our area, too, and is known to be tough enough to withstand the pollution of an urban environment. I liked the pattern of the triangle-shaped yellow leaves that had fallen to the ground, so I took a picture of them a couple of weeks ago that I’m using as the background picture on my BlackBerry right now.

As I walked home from work later that week, I noticed two women on the ground beneath the same row of ginkgos, eagerly gathering up the fleshy nuts that had fallen to the ground. I was curious about how they were going to use them, whether for food or medicine, but when I inquired it turned out we had a language barrier so we exchanged smiles and I carried on home, leaving them at their work.

A week later on my route home, I observed a crew of workers from either the city or the nearby apartment building, busy cleaning up the mess that littered the ground beneath the trees. They had a noisy leaf-blowing machine and were blowing all the leaves to one place where they packed them into bags for the city’s yard-waste composting program. They were getting everything tidied up before winter.

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” is a common phrase that captures some of the complexity of humanity.

While part of me appreciates those who work to keep our neighbourhood tidy, I found myself rejoicing at seeing someone finding value in something that others considered to be refuse. Through this small incident, I was reminded of the treasures, both noticed and unnoticed, that God has given us.


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Update - Philipines Typhoon Haiyan Appeal

Members of The United Church of Canada have shown their generosity this past week. A total of $235,271.25 has been given by 1515 donors (as of 8:45 a.m., Wednesday, November 20).
Please share this good news through the church bulletin, in prayers and in the announcements.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and ACT Alliance partners on the ground in the Philippines are co-ordinating relief and reconstruction efforts and have begun to receive the funds.
All donations received BY DECEMBER 9TH will be matched by our Canadian government.
Resources are being updated regularly – www.united-church.ca/haiyan
Gary Kenny
Program Coordinator,
Emergency Response
The United Church of Canada