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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, October 30, 2009


Definition: Care or upkeep, as of machinery or property: With proper maintenance, the car will last for many years.

Maintenance is the work required to keep things from falling apart. It is always done in an effort to retain the status quo. Maintenance is necessary, of course, but it takes a lot of time and work.

The problem with maintenance is that, if we aren’t careful, it can consume all our available time and effort. In church, we can become so consumed with keeping the church running that we hardly have time to reach out and invite the people the church was intended to serve. When that happens, the church becomes about us, not about inviting or serving others. This is a big problem, since that is not what the church is called to do.

If we are already in maintenance mode, the challenge is to move from maintenance to mission. Stay tuned; more in the next post!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Moving always means change.

If a person or family moves from one house or community to another, their world will change. The distance they move will, in large part, determine how big the change it will be. For instance, moving across the street or across town to a bigger or smaller house will mean only minor tweaking to the family’s routine, but moving from Canada to Thailand will involve major adjustments.

Whether moving is positive or negative depends on the attitude of those who are moving.

For some, moving is disruptive because it takes that which is familiar, satisfying, and comfortable, and turns it upside down. Moving is troublesome.

For others, moving is exciting because it gives them a chance to take those routines which have become stale, boring, and no longer productive and modify them for the better. For such people, moving is energizing!

Moving from where we are to where we want to be involves doing the work required to get there. Moving involves cleaning, preparing, folding, packing, loading, unloading, arranging, and then rearranging.

In the process, moving may also mean sorting and pitching things we no longer need or use; things which once served a purpose but which now no longer work. Sometimes it means letting go of things we have stored but not used for a long, long time. Sometimes it may even mean getting new stuff to replace the old and worn.

In Canada East we are Moving from Maintenance to Mission.

Are you ready?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


There are 24 women and men in Canada East Mission who, by virtue of their calling to the High Priesthood, are charged with being “Ministers of Vision.” (This number does not include the eight Bishops and twenty-three Evangelists who have more specific roles as Ministers of Generosity and Ministers of Blessing.) For the twenty-four, what a daunting task! How does one really go about that?

The twenty-four persons in question are people who are highly regarded in the mission centre because of their maturity, experience and wisdom. Often, people look up to them as role models, which may well make them a little uncomfortable.

But the term “Minister of Vision” suggests something more than their stature in the community. It suggests the ability to see or anticipate that which could come to be; that which is possible, or that which might be achieved with an appropriate and concerted effort.

The key is their ability to see, not their ability to create a vision. For example, if the President of the Church articulates a goal for the church, it is the job of the High Priesthood to grasp its possibilities, and then help others to see, understand, and respond to the call. In this way, we have one vision being upheld by multiple people, not 24 different visions being articulated.

At the recent Canada East Mission conference, the leadership team outlined a fresh approach to what we have always been called to do. We are now calling on the twenty-four Ministers of Vision, inviting them to see the possibilities, articulate those goals, and help the church respond.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I'm thinking of a special wedding that happened eight years ago today and I've considered many possible good words for today--love, marriage, ritual, symbol, metaphor, anniversary...But I've decided to just settle on wedding. You're welcome to select among that fine list after you've read my story:

Happy Anniversary Dave and Erin!

Lots of good memories flood back as I recall that day--and the days and years that came before and that have come since. The family and friends had gathered at a renovated historic train station to send them on their journey. We spoke of the significance of that. There were lots of symbols and metaphors in this wedding ritual.

The happy couple exchanged special stones that were part of the foundation of their relationship being laid that day. And as the officiant, I had assured my mother, the nervous grandma, that all would be legal and appropriately sacred, despite her anxiety over what her famously unconventional grandson might invent for his wedding. The stones were only one thing she might have been nervous about.

The groom sang his vows to his bride, with professional back-up provided by his twin brother and the other groomsmen. We all serenaded the newly-weds with our amazing kazoo orchestra at dinner. Murphy, the dog, did not attend, but was given recognition in the toasts I think. (Did you know Grandma was worried about this, Dave?)

Dave and Erin's journey has taken them to Iqaluit where Henry was born and then to the east coast where we welcomed Jane and Alice.

In honour of this special family I give you the Benediction spoken by their auntie at their wedding:

And now, may you rest in each other’s love;
may you grow in each other’s care;
may you enjoy each other’s challenges
and share each other’s adventures.
May those things you undertake together bring great joy
and may the love you share truly help to change the world.
Go forth in gladness and peace, Amen.

Monday, October 26, 2009


As Peter Trueman used to say "this is not news, but it is reality." Our folks really do like to sing!It's the thing we've got the most feedback about our recent mission conference--people didn't get to sing as they'd hoped to. OK people! We've made a note.

While we're on the subject though, let me say some other things about "singing." It's one of those areas where tastes vary. While we may really, really like to sing, we also want to sing certain things. Some of us are very reluctant to try anything unfamiliar. Or anything that doesn't feel right somehow. And who knows what makes things feel right or wrong in the realm of singing?

I noted some research on the topic of how our brains work that looked into the areas affected by music. They were examining how music that gets plugged directly into the ear takes certain paths and creates tracks that can endure forever. People are very much motivated by where and when those tracks get laid down. Their emotions and relationships and feelings about everything are tied to those tracks. Young brain tracks get very set and can exert control over us forever! (Even when we're old a gray...) Wow!

I listened to Peter Mansbridge interviewing Anne Murray about her just-released autobiography and her decision to retire--to stop singing! I don't think Peter believed her, but she seemed pretty certain.

"How will you feel about not singing?"
"Oh I'll feel fine. I've had enough of it. I'm tired of singing and I look forward to not doing it."

Too bad she wasn't at our Conference. She would have enjoyed it.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Today I thought I'd say something about our Merrie Bande of Bishops. (We use the olde English spelling just for fun! Besides, these guys are fun and have fun.)

This team of four gifted ministers, working away in their various areas of expertise, serving the membership, the leadership and the church contribute in many ways . You've probably encountered one or another of them at some point in recent years. We would traditionally have called them "self-sustaining" ministers. The new/old term that is being used these days is "tent-making." In other words, they support themselves out of their own work and resources. While they work for the church, they are not paid by the church.

Lew Shepherdson has lots of projects; right now he's working to get our website launched. This is a huge effort that takes special skills. Dave Snell watches the books, the budgets, the tax accounts, helps dig out financial officers who might be in over their heads.

Don Robb is a retired teacher who never really retired. He works with Aaronic ministers, teaches workshops from Good $ense to We Share. He and Mary (a recently ordained evangelist) get pastors together to support and assist as they can. Mel Mills has been serving the GTA West congregation, from its earliest conceptualizing to its current implementation. Now pastor, he's preparing to transition them to new leadership.

I could write a whole series on the terrific work each of these World Church ministers do for us all. But let me sum it up by quoting Section 163. This they embody every day:

Priesthood is a sacred covenant involving the highest form of stewardship of body, mind, spirit and relationships. The priesthood shall be composed of people of humility and integrity.

Tuly authoritative priesthood ministry emerges from a growing capacity to bring blessing to others.

The expectation for priesthood to continually magnify their calling through spiritual growth, study, exemplary generosity, ethical choices, and fully accountable ministry is always present.

(Doctrine & Convenants 163, selections from paragraph 6)

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I guess it's the intensity of the season change that brings out the poet in me. Here is a week's worth of haiku from an old autumn poetry class assignment to write a haiku a day:

In poetry’s way
fingers tap out syllables—
Steering wheel Haiku.

Lady Oak awaits
with quiet dignity her
final windy fate.

Blackbirds swell in
undulating wave against
a grey autumn sky.

Birds wait on the line
listening for the signal
telling them “Head south.”

Wings wide, landing gear
down—wild geese follow their feet
into the ground.

Fat frantic squirrel
hides nuts in the window box.
Alas, poor fool.

Orange orange orb
balances on purple hills
then drops out of sight.

Anyone out there want to take up the challenge? The formula is 5+7+5.
Count your syllables and paint us a word picture.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Two separate people in two separate congregations were talking in my hearing about the church library.

One was lamenting the location of the church library. Apparently it's in a side room and not very visible to the congregation; therefore, according to the speaker, isn't used nearly as much as it should be.

The other told of a converstion ongoing involving the highly-motivated young librarian to remove some of the old or out-dated books that she felt were clogging up the shelves and giving an "old and out-dated" message to potential readers. The other party to this conversation was a long-time member whose dad's and granddad's books had been donated to the library and whose memory he was determined to preserve.

It does seem that our church librarys do carry this additional "responsibility" of being a respository for some pretty ancient tomes. Sometimes it may be a blessing that these books tend not to be read!

What's the conversation around your church library? Is it visible? Is it current? Is someone looking out for it who cares for the books and cares for the "message" it conveys?

How do you access the best and most current church literature? And does your church's library play a role in that for your congregation? You may be getting a message here that this is something I'm thinking about, so you may be reading more in postings to come.

Happy reading everyone.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Those of you who were at Mission Conference on Saturday will have noticed--at least I hope you did--that our team is expanding.

While we've certainly felt the impact of recent cuts to our finances and have had to reduce staff significantly, our response has been to reach out to enlist other parts of our team. You saw many of them in action at conference. You've heard of others who are picking up new duties and will be taking their places on our expanding team.

There will be growing pains as we transition to working from "away" or finding our way with a new committee or unfamiliar duties. As our"public" you may experience these as something less than seamless. That's just the way it is.

But let's give each other space to get comfortable with new roles. Let's celebrate just how many competent people are willing to step up and take on responsibilities. Give them your thanks. Give them helpful feedback. Give them time to learn.

Consider what new or different role you might take on yourself and let us know.

And celebrate with us what a great job we're all going to do as we create our wonderful future together.

Yeah Team!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thank you!

Last Saturday’s 2009 CEM conference was a wonderful day! I personally felt richly blessed, and need to express some of my gratitude to you, the members of this great community.

Many, many, many thanks to all who came to Guelph on Saturday, and also to those who couldn’t come but sent loving thoughts and prayers our way. Your warm response to the invitation and to the information presented was truly a blessing to those of us who carried the responsibilities of the day. Your loving support for our team and your warm reception to the information and ideas presented are not only encouraging but gratifying. Two days later, I am still filled with gratitude and want simply to say “thank you” over and over again.

Thank you too, to all those who responded so willingly to the invitation to take a leadership role. The music, the presentations, the business session, and the conference worship would not have been possible without your gracious efforts. We are so grateful for what you have given and your willingness to step forward when asked. What a richly blessed community we are to have so many fine, capable leaders with such diverse and wonderful skills!

Thank you for your support for the three new Evangelists ordained at this conference: William McCarty, Grace Moor, and Mary Robb, and thanks to those three for their willingness. They take their place in an august body charged with the task of being ministers of blessing. They are, every one of them, equal to the challenge.

As the theme of the day suggests, this conference was all about preparing and planning for the future. Increasingly, I face that journey with excitement. As wonderful and important as our story has been thus far, the present and immediate future now urgently beckon us. We are called, we are sent, and we search the horizon with great gratitude and anticipation as we continue to prepare “For the Journey Yet to Come.”

Friday, October 16, 2009


Have you noticed that everywhere you go, everything seems to be "under construction"? Many main streets in my town appear to be dug up just now. And as I've had opportunity to be around the province, it looks as if we're not alone. Construction sites abound; everywhere we're admonised to "expect delays."

Not just road work, but lots of building is happening. Homeowners are trying to get renovations or additions completed to qualify for tax incentives offered by governments. Colleagues report progress on their deck, their basements; even my hairdresser was telling me about a project to waterproof her basement wall so they can proceed with finishing a new family room.

In the face of all this construction we often ask "Will it never be done?"

The answer to that question is "No." We'll always be building something. In fact, if we were to stop, things would quickly fall into disrepair. We'd outgrow our spaces. Believe it or not, someone would begin to complain about not enough change!

What we're doing here is creating our future. I hope many of you CEM folks will be at Mission Conference tomorrow to deliberate on our future plans, learn how you can participate in a major "construction project" as we create goals, establish direction, set budgets and targets for OUR future -- "Under Construction."

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I’m seeing red this morning.

Out my office window I see a row of red sumac along the fence, a row of red burning bushes along the boulevard, and a row of red brake lights lined up in the Tim Horton’s drive-through.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


It appears we're a people who really, really enjoy coming together. We've been finding ways to get together a lot. Recently we've gathered at the Retirees' Retreat (I was there!). Youth and young adults gathered at their annual Thanksgiving retreat. Another small group had a few days of silent retreat in each other's company.

Within recent weeks we've had a men's retreat at McGowan's Lake and a women's retreat at Ziontario. And it's not long since Family and Friends met at Erie Beach. Many of us couldn't get through a summer season without a reunion or a camp experience, be it kids camp or junior or senior high; and others teamed up with Canada West youth for a bus trip to SPEC and IYF.

Now here's my thought on all this togetherness. Why do we do that? Is it because we just love each other's company? Or does the coming together help us do what we need to do between gatherings?

Glenn McDonald in The Disciple Making Church suggests that every disciple needs an Antioch--the place we return to, to regain our strenth. But we also need a Macedonia--the place we're called to go and bring ministry. True disciples, says McDonald, need both.

Go back from time to time to your Antioch, but pay attention to the call to Macedonia. Now that we've all be strengthened and nurtured by coming together, it's time to listen for the call to do ministry in the community. Let's think a minute about where we're being called.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Here's my "tip for the day"

Reading "What's the Good Word?" every morning is good for you. Commenting can even help control your weight!

I'm reading a book that advocates doing a little bit of writing every morning as you start your day. The author claims quite a lot of practical success with this method. Her reasoning appears very good to me.

Taking a few moments to focus, to meditate and contemplate tends to air the issues that might get buried or suppressed. Buried or suppressed thoughts then may give way to unhealthy habits, habits like overeating or craving sweets or comforting starches. Write them out; pray over what's troubling you. If you've been one who feeds them chocolate or chips and gravy you'll understand.

If food can block disturbing thoughts, perhaps words can block unwholesome foods. That's her premise. You can test it out by reading our Blog every day and then writing a Comment. We're happy to be part of your weight-loss program.

Monday, October 12, 2009


So many things I might share from the very rich conversations shared at last week's Retirees' Retreat!

Thanks to Red Butler for suggesting the link between "symbols" and "cymbals." Our discussion had done some spiraling around the notion of sybolism and sacrament. How important is the physical or material stuff we employ in our sacramental rituals? What is the function of this piece of bread, this drop of oil, this pool or lake or river we immerse in? How essential is this symbol? And how to understand its significance?

Then Red raised his arms holding up a grand set of imagined cymbals and brought his hands together with such a flourish we could almost hear the crash.

"It's the coming together of the Divine and the Human, the spirit and the matter. That's the symbol's job. Just like these cymbals." From that point in our week's conversations, whenever we would dig out the kernal of meaning and finally grasp what we'd been seeking, someone would raise their cymbals and we'd hear that Crash! of the Divine smashing into our human minds.

It was a great week!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Thanksgiving; the very word conjures up images and memories! For some, it means a crowded table laden with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, squash and steaming vegetables followed by pumpkin pie and other delectable treats. For others the word evokes memories of trips to Grandma’s house, there to meet with aunts, uncles, cousins and more. For those who are now the grandparents, the word may be synonymous with homecoming; when the children and their children assemble for a wonderful day of family reunion and celebration. For all of these things, we may be very grateful indeed as we celebrate this warm and wonderful time of year.

Thanksgiving. The word has a wonderful structure, being made up of two words: thanks and giving. It is almost as if the two words have grown together, and been together so long that we hardly notice anymore. But isn’t that structure indicative of the way it should be? Shouldn’t thanks and giving naturally go together? Doesn’t giving somehow naturally grow out of being thankful?

Thanksgiving. What if there were no tables laden with food, no family visits, no squeals of delighted children greeting their cousins and playing together? It’s a different image isn’t it? Sad and lonely somehow.

This Thanksgiving, may we be truly thankful for all those blessings and memories we cherish, and may we also be giving, to those who do not have so much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Recently noticed on the paper tag of my tea bag:

"The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."

Enjoy your moments today.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Generosity is a condition of mind; a state of being, an approach to living. It is not a law; in fact it has the potential to go far beyond the limits of what might be required in a set of rules or laws. Generosity is from the heart.

The debate about the difference between generosity and tithing always reminds me of the story about a homeless man who found a new relationship with God and wanted to do something in return. He decided to pay tithing, and promised that 10% of all he earned would go to help others. Since he had only $10.00 at the time, his tithe seemed easy and he was happy to give his tenth. At that point, the man was also very generous.

Time went on and the man’s fortunes changed. He had opportunities that led to him becoming financially successful, and eventually wealthy. He continued to tithe, but somehow lost the spirit of generosity. Finally he sought out the Bishop who had brought him to Christ in the first place. “Bishop, you’ve got to get me out of that promise,” the man said. “Tithing is now costing me over a million dollars a year. I can’t afford that!” The Bishop thought for a moment, and then said, “Well there is nothing I can do about your promise, that’s between you and God, but I’ll tell you what I can do. I can ask God to reduce your income back down to $10.00, and then you won’t have to pay so much!”

Encourage your generous heart today.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


This just in from Del & Diane reporting the latest news from Grand Valley:

Last night we hosted our first annual fish fry - what a great success! It was awesome, delicious and again a great outreach into the community- young people also attended. We served 200. Doing this type of thing involves a lot of members, non members and friends in the set up and during the supper. We sold tickets also at the Grand Valley fair for the supper - which was also a great outreach in chatting with many people.

Also included in the report is the June strawberry supper, serving 250+ as well as active participation in the Ministerial Association, community fair and ecumenical service. Three summer baptisms took place with confirmations planned for upcoming fall services.

Thanks to this CPI couple for reporting on some of their recent outreach ministries.

Monday, October 5, 2009


It was budget week at Canada East Mission office and all minds were focused on squeezing as much good ministry possible out of our collective generosity.

Once again we're proud of our members' response to the call for resources that make so much programming possible. Oh yes, of course if we had more we could do more. But the mood is not one of regret but of celebration for the willing contributors, volunteer leaders who offer so much of their time, expertise and creativity.

Our Merrie Bande of Bishops will always happily lay out how a narrative budget can help congregations accomplish your vision or lead a Good $ense workshop to assist members and friends make good budgeting decisions and get their finances on track.

Around here, budget is not a dirty word, but one that helps us advance the mission and be about our Father's business.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Once, while visiting an art show on the Plaza in Kansas City, I saw a picture of a happy little girl who appeared to be from Haiti or somewhere tropical. She was standing outside her brightly coloured house in what was clearly not a wealthy neighbourhood. The caption below the picture said, “Don’t know, don’t care, and it doesn’t matter!” How I love that little girl! How I wish I could be so free!

We should be that free, you know. Most of the things we worry about don’t really matter at all, but here we go, wandering around with serious expressions, carrying the weight of a whole lot of artificial concerns on (or in) our heads. Don’t you find it odd, when you walk down the street in some of the wealthiest countries on the planet, that people don’t smile? We have all these worries. We have all these things, so we have to worry that somebody might steal them. We have to pay insurance in case our “things” get lost, stolen, or damaged, but then we are upset with the high cost of insurance! Seems like there is a pretty simple solution to all this, don’t you think?

So today, if you find yourself frowning or worrying about something you probably can’t control anyway, try saying to yourself, “Don’t know, don’t care, and it doesn’t matter!” You may need to say it a few times before you convince yourself that you really believe it, but it is wonderful therapy. And try wearing a smile today. Its good for your soul and will lift others as well. Be free!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Change (continued)

Many wise people have spoken of change.

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. (Bertolt Brecht)

Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal. (Arthur Schopenhauer)

Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. ( Robert C. Gallagher)

Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it. (Harry Emerson Fosdick)

If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living. (Gail Sheehy)

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. (Confucius)

If you like these, here are a million more.