westwords is a regular publication created by some dedicated members of our congregation.  We would LOVE to be able to share all of it's richness and vibrancy here with you, but we are also sensitive to the privacy needs and desires of our members and adherents.   As such, we will endeavor to present the portions of westwords we can, but many of the photos and some of the articles have been removed in the interests of privacy.

The CE Squad Report

posted Nov 18, 2013, 7:12 PM by Westminster Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 7:13 PM ]

CE Squad Goes Fishing

The CE Squad ventured out to Kolb Park on Sunday, October 6th to enjoy a morning of fishing. Our outing was well attended with a total of 7 adults and 7 children. The weather was surprisingly warm with a minor rain shower, nothing we couldn’t handle! We caught and released 9 fish and although we didn’t take any home, many of us walked away with a new appreciation for fishing. We cannot wait to do it again!

CE Squad Upcoming Events

We are looking forward to gathering the children, youth and some of their guardians for a Winter
Bonanza event! Tobgganing, snowpeople and hot chocolate will be at the top of our agenda this day.
More details to come as February approaches!

Willabear: A new CE Squad Friend

Willabear has come to Westminster to learn how to know and serve God better, just as the youth and children of our congregation have. Willabear will learn from us by watching what we do. Any child who would like the opportunity to take Willabear home may. This is done by taking Willabear home at the end of a CE Squad session and having the bear remain with them during the week, until she is returned at the following CE Session (Sunday). Willabear is meant to participate in your child’s activities and then your child is expected to document a few of these in Willabear’s journal, which we will share at church on the following Sunday.

Teachers are in short supply for Church School!

We are in NEED of teachers and helpers for every Sunday of the church year! We are looking for those that could be committed to teaching/helping once monthly or every other month. If you would like to get involved again, have an inkling that this could be for you or had a great time teaching what you love; please contact us at ce@westminsterunited.ca *Remember, these lessons are thoughtfully prepared and leave little, if any work, for you to do other than teaching/helping!

Creation Time

posted Nov 18, 2013, 7:09 PM by Westminster Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 7:09 PM ]

In 2009, the United Church of Canada suggested we celebrate ‘Creation Time’ during four or five Sundays in the season of Pentecost in September/October. The liturgical colour is orange and was chosen to designate the season representing a time of harvest, fruitfulness and the beauty of autumn.

The ‘Creation Time’ symbol consists of a tall tree with prominent roots and green leaves. It is a sign of life and growth. Flowing around the tree is a large blue circle, a symbol of God's eternity and the colour of the earth from space.

The four sections of the circle are reminders of the four seasons, the four directions of the compass, the four aspects of humanity (mind, body, heart and spirit). And the four orange sections form a cross.

The four colours included in the symbol represent the four elements of creation: earth (brown), air (white), fire (orange) and water (blue).

The banner which was at the front of the sanctuary during September and October was created by Rev. Mary over a number of weeks. It was a pleasure to watch it take form gradually as different parts were added each week.

Not A Spectator Sport

posted Nov 18, 2013, 6:52 PM by Westminster Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 6:53 PM ]

By Rev. John Lougheed

Rev. Mary was on a break and Rev. John Lougheed was the guest minister for the service on Sunday, October 27. The Bible readings were from 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 – Ambassadors for Christ.

With our ongoing thanks to Laura and Bethany for their leadership with the children here, including the theme conversation this morning with their Mom Joan, as a ‘press release’ for this sermon! Like Joan, I am a Voluntary Associate Minister here at Westminster, along with Robin.

Last Sunday, Mary asked if any of us had ever thought of being an astronaut! A few years ago, I heard about such a person! With my privilege to conduct several weddings – and attend some receptions – I have heard lots of wedding speeches, many of them good! One particular father of the bride had seemed rather ponderous through the festivities; that is until he got up to propose a toast to his daughter. And concluded by telling us – the little known fact - that a few years earlier, she had applied to be an astronaut! And, though she had not been selected, so proud was he of her well-rounded skills and sense of adventure, that he commended her to his new son-in-law saying: “You are both of such calibre, getting out there in the world – and even aspiring to travel beyond it! – and I’m very proud of both of you.” Beyond being a spectator.

I think of weddings – including for same-sex couples- as being part of the outreach and witness of Westminster United Church, along with our partnership with Temple Shalom, and initiatives like Supportive Housing of Waterloo (SHOW) and support for Out of the Cold locally and Oxford House in northern Manitoba, among others. The upcoming Weekend on Homelessness – November 22 and 23 – with the Temple is just our latest example of being more than observers.

Today we celebrate The Observer—magazine of our United Church of Canada. With roots dating back to 1829 - as the longest continually published magazine of its kind in North America and winner of over 150 awards, it’s a leading Canadian voice of “Faith, Justice and Ethical Living”. The Observer goes beyond its name to inform, empower and encourage action in building up the Kingdom of Peace with Justice that Jesus came to proclaim.

With my interest declared as a former member of the Board of the Magazine, I want to offer a bit of its context, and put it into the context of our Epistle lesson this morning.

Published from a modest house adjacent to Bloor St. United Church in mid-town Toronto – a site soon to be redeveloped as the new home of the General Council Office, it is moving from Bloor and Islington after several years. Let’s cast our minds back to 1925, just prior to the founding of the United Church of Canada with the coming together of the Methodist Church in Canada, 2/3 of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Congregationalist Church in Canada. (This latter group was ‘only’ 10,000 strong, but wielded a considerable influence, including insisting on the ‘free conscience of the ministers’ such that at Ordination/Commissioning, they wouldn’t be expected to sign a statement of belief…only the pension plan!) The Methodists were led by Dr. Chown and the Presbyterians (those who were coming into the United Church) by Dr. Pidgeon (in those days, a Doctorate in Theology was a title and a name.)

It was a divisive vote for the Presbyterian Church, with some Congregations voting to join Union, and others – like Knox, Waterloo – voting not to, and thriving ever since.

As June 25th, 1925 approached with the meeting of the first General Council of the United Church, Dr. Chown was expected to be elected as the first Moderator. But he made the gracious suggestion that Dr. Pidgeon should be – and indeed became – the first Moderator of our United Church of Canada. And to this day, The Observer magazine and staff meet around a kitchen table that supposedly belonged to Dr. Pidgeon (though Dr. Pidgeon never actually lived in the house that bears his name.) As we sang earlier with the children “sitting at the table round Jesus Christ”. 

(Later, in 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren (the EUBs) also joined, with local congregations including Emmanuel, Waterloo, and Zion, Calvary Memorial and Olivet in Kitchener.)

Back in 1925, the national magazine of the United Church was called The New Outlook, and eventually, it was renamed The Observer.

And the most read section of the magazine is still the Letters to the Editor! St. Paul might have hoped for that popularity with his Letters to the early Churches, including at Corinth; the second of which we read from this morning. Where Paul writes that “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation …!” Reconciled to God, not counting our trespasses, and entrusting this message of reconciliation to us, Paul goes on to invite us to be ambassadors for Christ.

I like the translations of Clarence Jordan, who describes this as ‘bridging a gap’ with God, and God ‘hugging the world’ to Godself. (The Cotton Patch Gospels, New Win, 1968). In the Aramaic idiom that Jesus spoke, it is an invitation to ‘open up to God’ as surely as God has opened up to us.

As Paul concludes this passage in his second letter to the Corinthians: “For our sake, [God] made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might [come into right relationship with God]. I understand this not in the sense of sacrifice paid, but as a ‘clean slate’ offered. And this passage took on a new depth for me last week, when a patient at the hospital described how Jesus’ own suffering and the Risen Christ’s triumph over death, were a great source of reassurance and inspiration to this patient who was experiencing physical pain – though it was being eased by medication – as well as facing his own mortality.

As I often say to the gathering of families and ‘friends like family’ at a wedding, their opportunity to pledge their support to the couple just prior to the vows, reminds us all that weddings – and subsequent marriages – are not a ‘spectator sport’. It takes communal support and encouragement for a marriage to succeed. And that is no less true of a baptism – particularly in the case of an infant – when the parents, godparents (if any) and congregation are invited to pledge to help nurture and encourage the child to a life in Christ. We’ll come back to the font, in a moment.

But first, a more formal word from our ‘sponsor’ today.

Thanks to The Observer staff, we have a wonderful display of sample copies of the magazine for you to browse and take this morning, including great issues on the 25th anniversary of the decision by General Council in 1988 to welcome all members of the church – regardless of their sexual orientation – into consideration for ordered ministry. And there is also a wonderful annual survey of Observer readers – the editors and leaders of the wider church do listen! – as well as a sample of the award-winning feature writing; in this case, about the wrongfully convicted, as well as the environment.

A deal at twice the price, the 10 monthly issues of the magazine come by subscription for only $20 a year. Currently, Westminster has 29 households as subscribers, and if we were able to increase that number by 50% or 15 households, the price per year for all of us would drop to $10 a year. So we encourage you to return one of these envelopes on the offering place, or mail in the card – marked Westminster, Waterloo – and we’ll keep you posted on our success, and rates!

This is also Reformation Sunday, when Protestants acknowledge Martin Luther’s decision in the early 1520s, to question the authority of the then Church at Rome, which led to the founding of the Lutheran denomination. Several years later, a similar split led to the founding of what we now call the Anglican Church. So we’ll be closing this Service with the singing of Luther’s epic hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God…that word above all earthly powers” (VU # 262).

Speaking of our Anglican sisters and brothers, meanwhile ‘back at the font’, we recall that on Thursday of this week, His Royal Highness Price George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and now third in the line of succession to Her Majesty the Queen, was baptized in the Chapel Royal of St. James’ Palace. Wearing a baptismal gown fashioned after the one worn since the 1840s when Queen Victoria’s children were baptized, and with the new Archbishop of Canterbury presiding, proud parents William and Catharine, grandparents, and great grandparents – including the Queen – gathered.

The several godparents – ever respectful of the Holy One of many names and traditions - were asked if they would help to bring up this child “to fight against evil and to follow Christ.” The ‘fight against evil’ echoes Psalm One – which we heard earlier – with its encouragement to ‘engage the Law of Torah’ (as our Jewish friends do) and invokes God’s support in the face of wickedness. (Personally, I favour the definition of Psychiatrist and author, the late Scott Peck, that evil is ‘knowing what one is doing is wrong, and doing it anyways.’ He called such evildoers,’ The People of the Lie’ (who lie to themselves). (People of the Lie, Simon and Schuster, 1985). 

So the Godparents – among others – pledge to face such evil and follow Christ. To encourage the Prince, as ambassadors for Christ. Not a spectator sport. Then, Prince George’s parents were asked ‘by what name shall he be known?’, water from the Jordan River was poured on his head “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, his forehead was anointed with oil as “Christ’s own forever”, and a candle was lit, as reminder of Christ’s light shining in this innocent young life.

Sounds like Westminster…United, rather than Cathedral!

As part of our own following of Christ, I invite us all to ponder our own baptisms – and what they represent, rather than what we remember – as well as one’s wedding, if we’ve been married, and to savour anew – or begin subscribing to - the United Church Observer. Count on helpful and inspiring insights on our denomination, as well as Faith, Justice and Ethical Living. And to paraphrase a proud father of the bride: “Such is its calibre, getting out there in the world - and aspiring to ‘transcend it’ - that I’m very proud to call her ‘our’ magazine.”

P.S. It says more about the magazine than the preacher to report that at least four households have indicated they will now begin subscribing to The Observer. Only 11 to go! Contact the Church Office.

The 2013 Garage Sale

posted Nov 18, 2013, 6:32 PM by Westminster Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 6:32 PM ]

When the last jigsaw puzzle, the last barbecue flipper and the last picture frame were sold, when the volunteer crew had demolished the traditional pizza lunch, when the leftover shirts and tapes and baskets and keyboards were boxed up to be picked up by The Working Centre — when all those things were done, on the afternoon of Canada Day, Cheryl counted up the money from the annual Westminster garage sale.

The figure she reported included a few pennies found in purses that had been donated for sale, but did't include expected revenue from a few particularly valuable items that were sold on Kijiji rather than in the face-to-face sale in the Great Room. Steve submitted the money from the Kijiji sales on September 1 and Rev. Mary announced that the final tally was the second highest ever. It’s not quite a record (the record was set in 2003 included a large amount from the proceeds of selling many perennials from Rev. Gary's garden) but it counts as a great success, and it may just make a difference between a deficit and a surplus this year for Westminster’s operating budget.

The garage sale (or “indoor yard sale” as the signs describe it) is a tradition, and many of the purchasers who dropped by this year told us they were at last year’s sale and in some cases many sales before that. We seem to have lost track of how long the congregation has been holding the Canada Day sale, but it goes back for twenty years at least.

However, this was probably the first year we were able to sell a plush dancing-and-singing pig (it went, for a dollar, within the first few minutes after the doors opened at 7:30). It was also the first year a Three Stooges mask was among the mountain of clothes, household goods and oddities that were donated for sale, and it too found a buyer, though not till the day was almost over. In fact, that worked out well; the yard sale staff had fun with the mask whenever things got slow during the day.

Those who track the merchandise trends from year to year said there was a glut of rollerblades, golf clubs and men’s shirts this year. The offerings also included twelve (yes, twelve) bird feeders. Cheryl eyed them all day long and finally succumbed to temptation and bought one, just before we closed the cash at the end of the sale.

Don kept trying to avoid looking at the cow lava lamp and later confessed that he was hoping someone would buy it so he wouldn’t “be forced” to buy it. A discerning purchaser did buy it finally, although it was almost at the end of the sale, and Don had to give a good deal on some other items to convince them to take it.

One of the staff pointed out that there were more men’s clothes for sale than there were men in the congregation! Claire and Jackie wanted to look at the kid’s clothes, but spent just a few minutes doing so. As they left the area, they were heard to say that, “They’re mostly ours.” However, one of them ended up buying a sweater later. We don’t think it was her own.

The most expensive item bought at this year’s sale was a vintage 1936 sewing machine, which Steve guaranteed was in good working order. Steve knows technology — although we did notice that in the course of the sale he managed to butt-dial the intercom system at least a dozen times — and confidently answered buyers’ questions about whether keyboards and car CD players were in good condition.

The least expensive item? A plastic toy bought for a quarter by a serious-faced youngster for whom the garage sale is high finance. Lynn and Chris, working the cash table at the door, had the opportunity to welcome buyers of all ages and families of all sorts. Among the visitors were a couple who in the end didn’t buy anything, but left behind a $10 bill as a gift to Westminster. “We’re friends of John L,” they said, but didn’t give their own names.

And then there was the young couple who have just arrived in Waterloo — she a Canadian back from several years living in Ukraine, he a student from Saskatchewan — who picked up kitchen equipment for an apartment that they’re just starting to furnish. We couldn’t help noticing that their first purchases included a decanter and a wine rack.

Of course, the buyers included dealers, looking out for resalable bargains, and the inevitable few hagglers. On one occasion, Chris added up somebody’s purchases and announced a total of $19. “Impossible, that’s too high,” the buyer would say, so Lynn would add up the total again, arrive at $21 and insist on collecting that amount in full. The same thing happened a few times and Lynn’s intimidating auditing talents added nicely to the final tally.

About those resalable bargains: they would include a piece of Delft china that went for a quarter. “You should maybe look that up on the Internet,” Lynn suggested as the buyer was leaving. “I’m from Holland,” the customer said. “I know what it is.” We later concluded its real value was something like 300 times what it sold for.

Other highlights of the day included a shelf of baked goods brought in by Paul (quite a few of the cookies were munched by Westminster volunteers in the course of the morning) and a bulk purchase of hockey sticks and other sports equipment by a man who explained he was a trainer in Waterloo minor sports.

The garage sale was organized again this year by Steve and Cheryl, who put in countless hours of work beforehand as well as a long day on July 1 itself. Cheryl even took the next day off work so that she could be there to greet and help the people from the Working Centre load the leftover items in their truck. Other volunteers included (and the word “included” is emphasized, because almost certainly some names are missing here) Brian, Don, Moira, Anneliese, JR, Lynn, Dianne and Scott, Cheryl and George, Chris, Ramani, Susan, Mary, Karen and Rodger, Lori, Jay, Joan, Paul, Clyde and Janet.

The Squad Report - Sept 2013

posted Nov 18, 2013, 6:17 PM by Westminster Webmaster   [ updated Nov 18, 2013, 6:20 PM ]

By Laura and Bethany, CE Coordinators

Welcome Back Everybody!

We want to thank everyone for making Christian Education such a success last year! We witnessed a lot of growth in relationships between the children and with other congregation members. We look forward to growing even more this year. We are always looking to expand the CE program and we already have some additions to share with you. Firstly, C.E. Squad is the new term for Church/Sunday School. This new name is team-focused, energetic and will encourage a more unique and intriguing CE experience for the children. Don’t be intimidated by the name, our squad is always inclusive and welcomes new members! As for the other terms, you’ll just have to wait and find out! Secondly, there will be many new terms which accompany this name change. It’s all about creating a lasting experience for the children of the congregation. Thirdly, keep your eyes peeled for all of the exciting sessions (formerly known as lessons) and events to come, this year!

Teach What You Love Lessons

The CE Squad gave an open invitation to all members of the congregation to teach a Sunday School lesson on something they love. Brock and Joanne taught photography and science, Dennis taught about money, Bethany taught about animals, Bob, Carolyn and family taught about healthy living, J.R. and Phyllis taught about knitting and Hamlet John taught about judo. All of these lessons were interactive, informative and spiritual. It was a great opportunity for members to bond with the children of our congregation and we had nothing but good feedback from the teachers and students! If you would be interested in teaching what you love, please send us an email or give us a call as we intend on having another series of Teach What You Love lessons this year.

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