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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?"

Monday, November 30, 2009


We're on the brink, the very edge of some new thing about to happen! Do you feel it?

Our CPI pastors began our week together with this announcement from Isaiah 43 and all week we felt it stirring among us as we studied and explored and prepared to go home and be engaged in something new.

As the Christian world has embarked on Advent we're feeling the same sense of immenence. Something is about to happen, something new!

Story after story is being shared about this sense that we're not where we once were. At times we've perceived this as loss, but increasingly we're recognizing that the changes we're noting can mean quite the opposite. We're recognizing that spiral is taking us up to a higher vantage point.

How are you feeling as you enter Advent, as you assume new responsibility, as you consider your next assignment, your next sermon, your next camping season?

Do you see it? There's the brink. Are you stepping up to it or beating a retreat?

The message is hope, anticipation, no fear! Imagine a new thing!

I'll meet you at the brink.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Now there is an interesting word. Context refers to the circumstances in which an event occurs. It is the setting in which something is said or done, and it really does matter.

“Context is everything!” That is a phrase one may hear from time to time. It suggests that one cannot overestimate the importance of our circumstance. I heard this phrase the other day in the midst of a discussion by our CPI pastors. The conversation was on the subject of the mission of a congregation.

Then there is the matter of internal context versus external context. In a congregation, for instance, the internal context might be all about the relationship between church participants, whether supportive or antagonistic, harmonious or tense. External context is about what is happening in the community where the church is located. I find this external context very intriguing, partly because we often ignore it so completely!

What is happening in your external context; the community where your congregation is located? What is occurring in the lives and circumstances of the families who live there? Is the recession impacting them in a serious way? What circumstances are changing in the neighbourhood? Are there needs that the church can and should respond to?

Context matters. External context matters because that is where our mission is.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I remember hearing once that "Feedback is the breakfast of champions"!

I'm so grateful for all the comments that are coming in to our good word blog reports about the things that are happening around our mission. We know you're out there reading and thinking about the things we're telling you. It's really heartening to feel your encouragement.

This week is a pretty special week as our dozen CPI pastors are in the middle of their first, very intense, formation week. You should see them digging into their scriptures, into the Bible dictionaries and commentaries. (Diane actually took a volume of the New Interpreter's Bible Commentary to her room after the movie tonite!) What dedication!

Be sure to let them know you appreciate the effort they're making to equip themselves to be better servant ministers. It's not enough that we all know you appreciate them; it's so much more energizing to hear that kind of feedback. Or to read it in an e-mail or on facebook or maybe even a note. I know some of you still do that. I have a special box where I keep and treasure the cards and notes you send to me.

Of course, the best is that you're out there doing the things we're reporting!

And we'll keep spreading the good word of all those great things you do. Then let's all remember that important principle: feedback! It's the breakfast of champions!

PS Kudos to our amazing instructors Don Compier and Art Smith and to Doug Bolger, our esteemed Coordinator. You are all the BEST!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I was privileged to be part of an intriguing conversation last evening with our Co-missioned Pastor Initiative group about goal setting. One interesting part of that discussion had to do with the difference between goals and activities. It became clear that some activities are undertaken to achieve a goal and some are not. In either event, the activity is not the goal.

Lets say a congregation decides to hold a carwash in the church parking lot. The car wash is an activity, but not a goal. Then what is the goal? That depends on the purpose of holding the car wash. Perhaps the congregation has a goal to send the congregation’s youth on a life-changing mission trip or to IYF or SPEC. In that case, the carwash would be a fundraiser, and there would be a charge for washing each car. The carwash is an activity done with the purpose of achieving the goal to send the youth on the trip.

On the other hand, if the congregation has a goal “to be part of and interact with the local community”, they might decide to do a carwash as a way to meet the neighbours. In that case, they might decide to promote the event with signs and flyers advertizing, ‘FREE NEIGHBOURHOOD CAR WASH. Why would they do that? Because the goal was to meet and serve the neighbours, not to raise money from the neighbours. The sheer novelty of someone doing something for free is likely to arouse the curiosity of the neighbourhood, and people will come just to check it out. In other words, how you configure the activity depends on what the goal really is.

What if the congregation just does a carwash every spring because they have always had one? What is the goal? Probably there isn’t one. Maybe there was a goal originally, but nobody remembers what it was any more. In that case, the activity is more of a habit than anything else.

All of this makes me wonder if I have habits or activities I do with no particular goal in mind. If so, what are they, and why do I do them? I’ll have to pay attention to see! What about you? What about your congregation? Do you have goals? Do you have activities you do out of habit? It’s an intriguing question, isn’t it?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Yesterday I ran into a former church member who has not been active in our community for several years. From a distance, I heard this person describing the recent merger of three Toronto congregations as “very sad.” I was interested, because I see the same event as very positive. There is wonderful energy in this new venture! There are children and youth, and the place is filled with life, hope and possibilities. Of course my friend would not know that because he has not been there for years. I sought to share some of that energy, but I am not sure he understood. He felt the church in this area is “just spiraling downward.” If someone sees things that way, I can understand why they would not want to be part of it. That is not, however, the way I see it.

I thought of that conversation again this morning as the reports came in of the good things that have happened in our mission centre over the weekend. Brantford congregation, intent on turning a dying congregation around, had more than triple their normal attendance. Faubert Drive had a very successful Jr. High retreat, filled with life, energy and bursting with potential. Living Waters, struggling recently with some problems, sang their hearts out as they offered praise and worship, then moved into a business meeting to choose their new leadership team for the coming year. LaSalle Road held their annual Christmas program and dinner, and had a full gym for the event. The list goes on and on.

Spiraling downward? I think not! If there is any spiraling going on, it is spiraling up!

There is a lot of good news happening in our mission centre. We need to get the word out and share it. What’s going on where you are? Any good news to share?

Monday, November 23, 2009


I've been hearing a fair bit of frustration expressed around me of late. I've heard it as impatience or dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Sometimes it sounds like a lack of direction or purpose. Maybe the vision is there but the frustration is with those who appear to lack motivation for the task. At times, the frustration is with others who don't feel the same urgency as the speaker.

Often the frustration is with self for being out of balance or unable to deal with life's challenges. Too much to do; too many demands on too little time; a need to readjust priorities, to cut out some stuff.

How can I squeeze these square pegs into the round hole of "What's the Good Word" you ask?

I'm hearing a stirring of the waters. I'm feeling as if there are many people who are being prompted by some good spirit to re-examine their priorities, to make some necessary changes in their life. Many people who've shared these feelings of frustration appear to have come to the point that the status quo just isn't cutting it any more.

One good sister shared that she'd finally decided to listen to her own heart and look into the housing project near her church. She was sure there must be something she could do there. For months she'd felt frustrated by what she judged as a lack of concern in her congregation. But now she's not judging anyone. She just made the call herself! One day I'll tell you how it's going! Another good story.

But today, I'm focusing on frustration as a good word. What do you think? Are you one of those with a heart for mission that needs to make some changes in your own life and respond actively to what the Spirit is prompting you to do?

This is not about urging all you busy people to take on more. It's a call to some of you rare individuals out there whose frustration needs reinterpreting and redirecting and refocusing because you're sensing that it's really a call in a new direction. If this is you, I'd love to hear from you. We should talk.

Friday, November 20, 2009


On impulse, I recently checked on a blog site I had not visited for a while. The site, entitled Flannel Christian, is published by a friend (his name is Christian) who only posts occasionally. When he does put something up, however, it is often thought provoking and worth reading.

The current post is about a peace event Christian is organizing to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Christmas Eve Truce of 1914. On that remarkable World War I night, German and British soldiers in the trenches of Belgium ceased hostilities in honor of Christmas. First the German soldiers decorated the trees with candles and began singing Caroles, most notably and appropriately Stille Nacht (Silent Night). The British troops responded by singing caroles in English, and soon they were greeting each other in no-man's land, then exchanging little gifts of jam, chocolate, or whiskey. Before long, the young soldiers were actually playing football (soccer) together! It is a wonderful story.

Almost as wonderful is the plan to remember and celebrate that night 95 years later in Seattle Washington with a peace event. Someone is thinking! It is a great idea. I wish them every success and blessing. What is more, since “Effective Peacemaking Ministries” is one of our goals in Canada East Mission of Community of Christ, perhaps it is an idea someone should here should take note of. Maybe this is an event we should emulate on the 100th anniversary. Any interested volunteers or congregations out there?

You can read Christian’s blog at

For more information on the Truce itself, go to or try googling “Christmas Eve Truce 1914”.

Stories and songs about this amazing night can also be found on YouTube.

Stille Nacht, Heil’ge Nacht!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today's good word is lunch. I'm thinking of not just any lunch but of that particular good lunch that is part of our community's funeral practice. You know the one I mean; the one that's provided by the women of the congregation, or supplemented by the neighbours' contributions--a loaf of tuna salad or egg sandwiches or a pan of squares because "You might need this." It's where we all gather back to after the service.

It's the place where the mourners and their supporters start to live without the somebody they've just said one more good-bye to. It's at the lunch that there is laughter shared over triangle sandwiches and trays of pickles and olives. It's here we finally have time to notice how big the baby has got since we last saw him and how much more frail great-aunt someone is this autumn.

Little groups form up around the tables or balance flimsy plates on laps as heads lean togther to share a remembrance while taking care not to upset the styrofoam coffee cup. There's a bit more time to realize who's actually taken time off work, or driven all the way from Kingston or Goderich to be together. People are circulating and saying hello to distant cousins or in-laws from afar, either in miles or years.

What is it that's happening over this lunch? A family is uniting, setting aside the differences that feel less important today; a community is closing the circle around some of its members who need special care. Time is slowing down for just a bit as we remember those ever-so-important principles of what really IS most precious to us.

Take time for one more macaroon and another cup of tea and tell your second cousin how very glad you are to see them.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Last Saturday I attended a workshop for GTA-West congregation as they worked to identify their goals for the immediate future. The workshop was attended by 60+ people and directed by a consultant who led us through a carefully planned process. It was a wonderful day.

The day began with a reminder of the congregation’s purpose statement, which had been carefully identified at an earlier event. I am a big believer in purpose statements. Whether you are an individual, a team, a congregation or a corporation, knowing your purpose makes all the difference in the world. It is the difference between doing something because it is routine and doing something for a reason.

To take on a task without a clearly understood purpose is rather like driving on the road with no map or GPS and no real idea where you want to go. To quote the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”.

Purpose speaks of determination and resolve. It suggests that there is a desired result at the end of whatever process or activity you are engaged in. Doing something on purpose suggests that you know what outcome you want to achieve. If you know your purpose, you can identify goals that mean something, and initiate processes and programs to achieve them.

My purpose in this post is to say, "Well done, GTA-West! You know your purpose and have identified your goals. You now have a roadmap and a GPS. You are on the road to where you want to go!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Here you are thinking about getting the snow tires on and raking up the last of the fallen leaves; maybe you've stowed the canoe and drained the lawnmower and serviced the snow blower. And here I come with the good word: camping!

Believe it or not, coming up very soon is the first official weekend of the 2010 Camping Season. Directors from all our camps, reunions and retreats will be gathering for discussion, for updating, for sharing ideas and energizing each other for the ministry they'll be offering next year.

In November of each season, we take a weekend to go into retreat, to look back at the season just past and begin to work seriously on plans for future events. What worked well? Which new leaders are stepping up? How can we best use new skills and tap old experience?

Every year our group grows as veterans bring along their current protégés to introduce them to the fine art of event planning--creating the vision, considering the laws and regulations, constructing the best schedule and staffing lineup. The list goes on and on.

It's a time to network, to greet old friends and new, to just hang out together at this end of the season before that enormous sense of urgency kicks in somewhere around February.

If you aspire to be involved in camp leadership let your favourite camp or retreat director know and get an invitation for a test drive at Scarboro Missions, 2010 Directors' Retreat, November 27-29.

This is a "by invitation" event, so let us know if you want to be considered. There's still time.

Monday, November 16, 2009


There is a wonderful and fascinating energy around this word. Former students of Graceland University often look forward to returning to “the Hill” on significant anniversaries of the graduating class: five years, ten, twenty-five, and so on. Recently one of our CEM pastors returned for his fiftieth class reunion. It is wonderful to see old friends, former roommates, and perhaps even a favorite professor or two.

Senior High camp, 2009 had as its theme, “My Camp, My Community.” One of the ideas expressed around that theme is the expectation that campers will be going off into the world, but will always be expected back to this community. “We will be here for you, and you will always be welcomed home.” It is a great concept.

Yesterday, Brantford congregation celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in the current location, and several years more as a congregation. It was billed as Brantford’s Homecoming, and indeed, many former members and associates as well as friends from neighbouring congregations returned for the day. I think it is safe to say that a good time was had by all as they celebrated in worship and fellowship together. The old building had been spruced up for the occasion, and there was energy around the ideas of moving into the 21st century. It was a good day.

Homecoming breathes the idea of coming back to somewhere that is or was our spiritual home for a time. Where is that for you?

Friday, November 13, 2009


This is Marion, reporting in. Our meetings are finished and today is a "travel day" so you're not going to get anything by way of major reporting from your CEM team on the road.

I have managed to squeeze in an extra couple of days to spend with family here in the Kansas City area and right now have negotiated a few minutes to update the Blog.

Currently my focus is on a wonderful Sticker Book being completed by Tiona, age three, with my occasional assistance. I am informed that when we have finished we will be making a craft. I am as yet unsure what that will entail but I can assure you all that the person in charge here has enough ideas and I shall be given my assignment shortly.

Tonight I am the designated driver for Eric, age twelve, who needs to go to the library for an amazing evening with vampires and such. This extra-special Friday 13th activity ends at midnight. The chauffeur will be waiting.

For the next two days my attention shifts to another house with three other little girls. Who knows WHAT they'll be up to?

Take a break today my people and just enjoy the folks you're with.

It's all about "what matters most."

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Marion has mentioned that several of our CEM team are in Independence for meetings this week. Knowing that we would be in meetings for several days, from morning ‘til evening, dealing with difficult and complex issues, the planners thought to insert a break in the middle of the week to get away from the meeting for a couple of hours. Consequently, on Wednesday afternoon we took a break and went bowling! It was a wise plan.

It was good to relax and have fun. The most oft heard comment at the beginning had to do with the number of years since most of us had played this game. Gradually the comments turned to offering support and encouragement, whether the bowler threw a strike or a gutter ball. We simply relaxed and had fun with one another.

The problems, issues, and challenges of life can be pretty daunting. Often there is a need to stop and have fun together. Sometimes we need to take a break, relax, laugh, and regenerate. Soon, we will be ready to once again, resume the tasks we face.

What do you do to break the stress and tension that you live with? What works for you? Is there something you can share with the rest of us that may be helpful? What has broken the tension for you at times?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Perhaps it is because of the passing of years and my own increasing age that Remembrance Day feels closer to my heart these days. I need to remember. I want to remember.

I remember my father, a young soldier who married my mother days before he left on a ship for Europe during WWII. I remember the stories he was willing to tell; the funny incidents as well as the scary hours and months there. I remember too that there were months and years of stories he wouldn’t tell. I have always assumed that for him, they were simply too vivid and painful to recount. Having lost my Dad just two years ago, I look at his snapshots of wartime, and remember.

I remember Joan’s Grandfather; a teenage soldier in the trenches of WWI. I remember his stories of almost unbelievable horror and fear. I remember how in that theatre he cried out to a God he didn’t know, and found comfort and blessing in a Spirit he would learn more about when he, miraculously, survived. I remember the strong, faithful man of God he became, and how he blessed the church in Toronto, Ontario and beyond.

I remember Robb, a young man who is the father of some of my grandchildren, who felt the call to be a soldier. He is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in 2010. I remember and I worry.

I remember the thousands of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who have been deployed as peace keepers around the world. I am proud of them, and of our country’s peacekeeping record. I remember too, the soldiers who now serve, this time in combat roles. I think of their families, and also the people who live where they serve, in a rugged and war torn land. I remember and pray for them.

I remember too that we are called to be a peace church. I wonder how a peace church works with the dichotomy of having our countries at war, and our loved ones deployed? It is a challenge.

On Remembrance Day in 2009, there is much to remember.

How about you? What or who do you remember on this sacred, solemn day? Will you share some of your remembrances here?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


We greet you from Independence this morning!

Our whole program team has gathered with our Apostle Mary, our old friend and former apostle Jim Slauter and a great crowd of other people from Mary's field, Canada West and North and Central USA. We're excited to be gathered around the big round council table in the temple.

We're here for some updating, for a little information sharing, a bit of future planning, but mostly to be in conversation with colleagues to strengthen and build up our team. As I'm looking across the table there are Carman, Mike, Jim, Alfredo.

To be really polite and respectful we're leaving computers closed, cell phones turned off, connections back home and abroad disconnected. We're being intentional to connect here and now, at this table with these people. Who knows just how many "Good Words" will emerge from these conversations? I've already got a couple of ideas. But you must be patient and wait for them to percolate, work their way through a couple of days of thinking and sharing.

And if you're very lucky, you may even hear a good word or two about some amazing grandchildren I hope to spend a wee bit of time with over the next few days. It's all good!

Take care of yourselves, everyone back home. We're thinking of you. Check in tomorrow for greetings from your team on the road.

Monday, November 9, 2009


There are a few people I think of as my heroes; or more accurately as heroes of the gospel. For instance, in the High Desert in California, in the city of Victorville, there is a man whose name is Gary. Gary was/is a drug addict who came to church one Sunday morning with his girlfriend Tracy looking for help to get their lives back on track. Gary was in trouble with the law, with Family Services, with just about everybody you could name, but he wanted to do better.

Gary and Tracy knew there had to be a better way to live. They showed up at church and asked for help. Though no longer together, three years later, Gary and Tracy have been baptized and are still off drugs. Gary has custody of his son, attends church every Sunday, and helps wherever he can. He also goes to school. His goal is to become an addictions counselor so he can help others the way he was helped. I love Gary and Tracy deeply; they are my heroes.

There are also other heroes in this story, and they are the people from this little congregation in the desert who supported Gary and Tracy and others while they went through this enormous change in their lives. They are people who really didn’t know how to help drug addicts, but also knew they had to say yes when asked. They learned how to support people who were getting clean, and be patient with them while they learned what it means for them to live a Christian life. It took great courage and patience for them to do that. The members of this little congregation are true heroes of the gospel, and they will always have my undying respect and admiration.

Do you have heroes? Who are they? What do they do that makes you admire them?

Blog Template Updated

On Thursday's (Nov 4) post, Marion suggested that you should click on the link to open the blog in a new window so that you could get access to all the other good blog stuff, such as reading and making comments.

Well, you don't have to do that any more. With a little smoke and a couple of mirrors, I have updated the blog template so that the actual blog is integrated into the website. That makes all the good stuff Marion wants you to see available right here.

As always, let me know if you spot any issues.

Lew (Webadmin)

Friday, November 6, 2009


Rock is one of those many, many English words that can have lots of meanings. In fact, it's a word that can have opposite meanings.

For example, we think of a rock as something stable, solid, unmoving as in a solid rock foundation or Rock of Ages.

Or it can mean a gentle movement as in rock-a-bye baby or a peacefully rocking boat or grandma's rocking chair.

It might suggest a terrific violent experience as in the explosion rocked the neighbourhood or new information rocked his faith.

Some people love the sound of rock music and consider it the highest compliment to say or hear you rock!

I'm off this Sunday to meet with Jesus Rocks! our little emerging congregation in downtown Hamilton. I'll let you know what I encounter there. I'm excited to have this chance to get to meet some folks in this group I haven't yet met. And to hold up Lynn Aquin in her leadership role there.

I leave you now for the weekend with this little message

"Rock On!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009


If you are seeing What's the Good Word on the newly launched incarnation of the Community of Christ, Canada website here then you're being invited to Read the Blog in a New Window.

Please do that!

It gives you access to lots of additional valuable stuff--Comments and ongoing Conversation, an opportunity to Join that conversation, easy access to old posts and earlier conversations, Sidebar suggestions of other excellent blogs you can link into and pictures of some of the folks who "follow" us.

It's almost always a good idea to look through a new window when you're invited to do so. Let's explore what me might find there.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Sometimes spending a bit of time with a thesaurus or even my dictionary can help my imagination, my understanding and my vision.

For example: these words from my on-line Thesaurus/Dictionary : vision

* appearance conveying a revelation

* concept formed by the imagination

* the power of imagination

* unusual discernment or foresight

* the power of seeing

* special ability to perceive clearly

* a lovely or charming (or charmed) sight

* the ability to perceive the light through the eye to the brain

* something worth seeing, attending to

Now go back and read this and notice what comes to mind for you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Hello everyone out there reading our Blog! For several days now I've been part of the "lurking" readership. (Thanks Carman for a very exciting series.) Today I thought I'd talk about this name given to those of us who read but don't comment--lurker.

Many people have shared with me that they've been reading along with the blog postings. And that's good! Sometimes they add a sheepish confession that they aren't smart enough, or technical enough, or quick write a response.

I just want to assure all you lurkers that I don't mind a bit. You too have a place in Blog-world. Of course I will encourage you --have even done so from time to time in the blog posts themselves--to screw up your courage and post a Comment about what you're reading there.

But the reading itself is valuable and valued. The conversations you have at the dinner table, or at the priesthood meeting or in the adult class, or via the blog post copied and posted on the bulletin board or in the Sunday bulletin (thanks Woodfield!) are part of the greater conversation going on in our extended community.

One of these days we'll post some statistics about just how extended our community is. Ask around for yourself. How many of your friends have joined the circle? Tell them about it if they haven't. Do join the conversations that are going on there, and someday, let's hear from you too.

Meanwhile, I salute all you lurkers out there. Enjoy your status as a significant, probably even the largest, part of our What's the Good Word world.

Monday, November 2, 2009


A few years ago, a research company conducted a survey of a large number of churches in United States. They asked church members what they thought the purpose of the church was. The results of the survey were very interesting. 89% of members said that the purpose of the church was to look after the needs of members and their families. The remaining 11% of those polled thought the church’s purpose was to reach out to people where were outside the church family and not church members.

The same research company also polled the pastors of these same churches. Interestingly, exactly 89% of the pastors replied that the purpose of the church was to reach out to those who were not members of the church, and only 11% thought the purpose was to look after members and their families. The two groups were exactly opposite!

In a way, this survey demonstrates the difference between maintenance and mission. Maintenance is about me and my family. Mission is about those whose lives would be so greatly enriched by knowing there is a God who cares about them passionately.

The recent revelation to the church we now call Section 163 has much to say to us on this matter. In fact, one might think it should really settle the debate once and for ever.

“Generously share the invitation, ministries, and sacraments through which people can encounter the Living Christ who heals and reconciles through redemptive relationships in sacred community. The restoring of person to healthy or righteous relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.” D. & C. 163:2b

In Canada East Mission, we believe we are called to move from maintenance to mission. The call is the mission of the Christ. It is the mission of the church. It is our mission.

Do you hear the call? Are you ready?