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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?"

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I’ve been busy packing books to send off the various reunions. While it is a bit of a chore, it is also a pleasant chore. It’s nice to handle all these great books that I’m sending off to be discovered by all my friends, the “book people” who shop at the book tables every summer.

This is one more of those “last times I’ll be doing this” things that are occurring in my life as I count down to October when I will be leaving the job. It is true. I will not be doing this next summer! Let this be your warning. If you are one of my “book people”—and you know who you are—please consider this your last call. Take a good look over the selection I’m sending you. If you want that book, grab it now.

The shelves are nearly empty now as each full bin has been sent off for all you eager readers at Mcgowan’s Lake, Ziontario, Noronto and Erie Beach. A big Thank You goes out to Mel Kelley, Connie Heath and Mel Dupuis who faithfully unpack and repack and chat about the books each summer. One thing we’ve learned about your and from you is that folks who love books also love to talk about books. I hope you find plenty to chat about in this year’s collection. And I hope you buy them all so I don’t have to find other ways to clear them off these shelves. Let me challenge you to empty those tables by the end of the week. Who can do the best job?

People always ask me “Have you read all these books?”

The answer is, of course, “No.”

But they are all books that I would read. I have read many of them. And if I haven’t read the whole book I’ve read some essential parts of it. I’ve checked out the covers and the prefaces and likely the first couple of chapters. I’ve checked out the Table of Contents and any parts that look like they may have something good to say or some useful tips for things I know you’re doing or working on or might need some pointers about. I’m careful to send you works by authors I know or publishers I trust. If it’s on my table you may be assured that it won’t lead you astray.

Now you may have some work to do. You’ll need to adapt or reflect about or even pull a group of friends together to discuss or discern how this book is trying to reach you. It might be trying to stretch you or intrigue you or challenge you. It may be something you’ll look over quickly and reject, or it may be something you’ll put on a shelf and come back to again and again. I hope so.

For right now, all the packing is done. Treasure boxes of books are making their way to a reunion book table near you. Make me proud. Empty those tables and enjoy what you find there.

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I’m thinking about dust this morning. My neighbours at Encounter World Religions are expecting visitors and spent yesterday dusting their office. It took a very long time and a whole lot of spray product to bring that space into pristine condition. The pictures in this photo gallery will give you an idea of just what a challenge it was!

I realize, as I’ve been pondering, that attitudes and perspectives on dust can vary. There are people who live with a mental white glove with which they test every surface for traces of the stuff. Manners preclude actually drawing a finger through the dust on the shelf or the coffee table, but you know they really want to. My mother was one of those people and she certainly taught me well. As a child with a duster I learned the exact routine and was regularly assigned that task of ridding our living space of any speck of the dastardly stuff.

For some unknown reason, while the routines were well learned, the attitude never really stuck. Here’s a poem I wrote as a class assignment once. You’ll see I don’t get nearly as irritated over dust as did my mother.

This is the place ...
where all the dust is my own.
It mingles in swirls with the hair
from my very own cat,
and rolls through the sun beam
in lovely lazy waves across the floor.
Every book in every pile on every chair is mine
and waits with ultimate patience
for my attention.
The pleasant fragrance of the most expensive incense
blends charmingly with essence of kitty.
The tea steeps in the hand painted little treasured pot
and the dishes soak in silence—
there is time.
Time to catch the elusive thought
that might have escaped in some other space.
Not mine.

Yet again I realize I’m thinking about differences. We really are not the same, are we? Just as there are cat people and dog people, tea people and coffee people, there are those who’d rather sit and think for a bit, while others can’t abide looking at all this dust! I look very like my mother. In some ways we are very, very alike. And yet, regarding dust we are worlds apart.

Encounter explores the world’s religions. They think about how human beings are the same and how they are different. They help create peace in the world by bringing understanding and surprise as we open ourselves to our similarities and our differences. You might want to check them out here: Encounter's wonderful website

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This morning’s blog is in appreciation for the response to a casual and initially unintended comment included in a recent post entitled Camp. That post was followed the following Monday with Camp-II.

Both articles referred to a larger than usual number of children that wished to go to camp whose families were not able to pay for them to attend. The response was immediate. I first received a message that one person would be happy to provide a campership for a child to attend camp. That was followed by another offer to pay for a child from another generous heart. Then a pastor emailed to say that her congregation would like to provide two camperships. At the current time, we have received offers of support to send five children to camp! Thank you so much to those persons who have made this possible.

Unlike today, the reference to the particular need was not one I had intended to write about when I sat down at my computer that morning. Somewhat impulsively, it just sort of popped onto the screen from my fingertips. I decided to leave it there so you would know the situation, but did not provide any details.

Specifically, I did not say is that we were aware of at least fifteen children from one congregation whose families could not afford to send them to camp. We were contacted by their congregational leaders who wondered what to do. We responded that they should register the kids for the appropriate camps, and we would find the money somehow.

You can guess where this is going. At the present time we have the camp fees of five of those fifteen covered. Ten remain. We do have money in the youth fund we can and will use for this purpose, but I thought you might like to know the situation.

Perhaps you thought of sponsoring a child but didn’t know how. The fastest way is to click on the CEM Website and find the button that says, Donate Now through (This is a secure site, but you will need a credit card to complete this transaction.) When that page opens, insert the amount you wish to donate, then open the drop-down box and click on # 7 Canada East Mission. In the Message/Instructions space, tell us that you wish to sponsor a child to camp. After that, just follow the remaining instructions. The cost is $230 for Jr. High or $243 for Kids Camp. We would be glad to have help with either. If you would like to help but can afford only a partial campership, that would be fine too.

Alternately, if you wish to donate but are not comfortable with using your credit card on-line, you can simple send us a cheque in the mail now that the postal strike is supposed to be over.

Whether or not you are able to sponsor a child, we sincerely appreciate the generous spirit that is evident in the response already received. Its going to be a good summer for these 15 kids. Thank you for your generous heart.

Posted by Carman

Monday, June 27, 2011


Sometimes we talk about the liturgical calendar. Here's one of those times

Today seems to be a good time revisit that conversation. We’ve just entered Ordinary time. Not “ordinary” in the sense of “routine or not special or blah” but in the sense of “not seasonal.” In effect there are only two kinds of time in the church’s year: Jesus’ time, otherwise known as Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter, and the Church’s time. Which is to say, the rest of the year. The calendar teaches us a critical lesson. Either we’re focusing directly on Jesus and learning what he says and does and is, or we’re living our life as the church, as the Body of Christ saying and doing and being what he modeled.

Sometimes when I’m trying to schedule something in a congregation someone will say something like “We can’t do it then, it’s summer” or “We need to wait for the snow-birds to return” or “You can’t plan it then; we might get weather!” It often seems to me like we need to squeeze congregational life into the limited spaces between the good weather and the bad.

Instead, we need to look at “ordinary time” as a key season. This is the church’s time to really get things done. That’s the reason for the liturgical colour which is green, the colour for growth! We now enter this longest period of the year. This is when we need to get to work, get focused on the mission, look outward into the community and figure out how to say and do and be what Jesus has taught us.

Carman has been talking about the call to swing into action. I think we’re on the same page here folks. I know you’ve been waiting patiently for some good summer weather, for leisure time, prepping for camp or reunion. But let’s not forget that this time really IS special. This is “Ordinary Time” – time to grow the church.

What does that mean to you? Can we do it all? Is there a way to enjoy a wonderful summer without forgetting our commitment to be the Body of Christ where we are? I think so but it will be a challenge. Are you up for it?

Posted by Marion

Friday, June 24, 2011


In the blog post Action, I mentioned Kris Judd’s invitation to Dwell in the Word. The following thoughts are offered as a further reflection on that process.

Dwelling in the Word is a practice all disciples can use in their personal spiritual formation. It is a way of exploring scriptural passages more deeply and reflecting on what those verses have to say to us. You can find guidance about using this spiritual tool by clicking here, and scrolling down to “Personal Spiritual Practices.” It is a method you may find very helpful.

For the month of June, those who have joined this journey with Kris have been reflecting on Doctrine and Covenants 163: 1-4. On a recent morning, as I read this page again, my attention was caught, not by the words or phrases in the document itself, but by a sentence in the preamble.

I place these words in the church’s hand, trusting that the Spirit will enable the faith community to hear the call of God today with increasing clarity.

Clarity! Isn’t that what each of us is searching for? Do you, like me, spend huge amounts of time searching for this elusive commodity? Whether walking, driving, working, resting, sleeping, praying, or reading, aren’t we always searching for greater clarity in our lives? Isn’t it a major desire of our hearts to have a clearer sense of our life’s purpose, or said another way, of God’s purpose in our lives? And here is that word, embedded in a document we have read over and over again.

The search for clarity is what calls us to greater depth in our personal spiritual practice. It is what moves us to want to Dwell in the Word, or listen to inspiring music, or mediate. or pray. Without it, we may always harbour doubts about whether our actions are in sync with our life’s true purpose.

But the phrase used by President Veazey is “increasing clarity.” Somehow that seems to sum it up just about perfectly. No matter how much clarity we attain, there is always more to be seen and understood. Our understanding is always partial and we May have just scratched the surface. We can always go deeper. Of course we will need to put the clarity we have achieved into action while we do that, but like scientist probing the mysteries of space, the quest is never fully achieved. There is always more to see.

May you be blessed with increasing clarity as you go about your journey with God today.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I acquired another box of great books from a congregation's closing library. Fortunately there's a kindred book person there who couldn't bear to just discard some of the classic books from their shelves when they left those shelves behind. We don't have nearly as many new books being published by Community of Christ authors as we did in the hey days of Herald House. As resources for publishing have decreased and new ways of spreading the word have increased, we look to on-line sources as well as to other quality publishers of excellent materials.

Nevertheless, there are a few classic titles that still have a place on our personal and congregational shelves. And some of those turned up in this latest acquisition of mine. Of course I shall be looking for good homes for them as well as for the hundreds of books I'll need to be passing along from my library soon.

Here are a few of those classics. Do you have these? Are there others you treasure? Let's share a list of some of our classic favourites. I'll start:

"Treasure in Earthen Vessels" by Bill Russell
"The Book of Mormon Speaks for Itself" by Roy Cheville
"The Writings of President Frederick M. Smith" compiled by Norman Ruoff
"Untangling Our Faith" by Elbert Dempsey Jr.
"Fire in My Bones" by Robert Mesle
"The Hazards of Theology" by Geoffrey Spencer
and another couple, not Herald House, but classics on my shelf
"Mormon Enigma, Emma Hale Smith" by Linda Newell & Valeen Avery
and "Nauvoo, Kingdom on the Mississippi" by Robert Bruce Flanders.

So there's my short list this morning. What are your classic Community of Christ/RLDS titles?

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


At the invitation of Kris Judd, a number of people in our mission centre and beyond have adopted the practice of “dwelling in the word” of selected passages of scripture. Each day for a month, we read the designated verses and listen to discern their voice in our lives. The scriptural selection for June is from Doctrine and Covenants 163:1-4.

As I ponder this document this morning, I am struck by how many action words are contained within its verses; in fact the text is a virtual call to action. Here is a partial list of the verbs this selection contains.

Be alert
Significantly, all these imperatives and more are contained in only the first four verses!

From the time this seminal document was given to our community four years ago, I have had the sense that it has the potential to transform the church. That earth-shaking potential is dependent, however, on our willingness to live within its images, discern its call to us, and invest ourselves in its invitation. Only if we are willing to do so can we discern and embrace its full meaning. Only in this way can we discover the potential of its powerful inspiration.

We are called to action, and that action begins with contemplation. What is the Spirit's prompting to you?

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It's the first day of summer!

Summer is finally, officially here!

All this talk of camping is legitimate.

I thought to write of all the things the thought of summer conjures up in me--heat, leisure, flowers, gardening, reading books on the deck, drinking ice tea on a summer Saturday afternoon.

(One day I will write of "un-camping." What we who are decidedly not in the camping crowd will do, and just how we intend to spend our summer days, and weekends. But not today.)

And then I thought just how much of my idea of summer is tangled up in my thoughts of colour. Colour infuses my every summer-thought. Of course, the poet had arrived there before me. So here is a lovely summer poem, shared with you in honour of today--the First Day of Summer!

Summer Colours by Fenny Sterenborg
Long curls
lightest blond
like silver and gold
in the saffron sun

Summer dresses
cool white
show lots of skin
golden brown

Painted toenails
fierce red
in summer shoes
walk by

and catch eyes
green and blue
behind black shades
against the gleam

June 20, 2006
©2006 Fenny

Have a wonderful summer!

Posted by Marion

Monday, June 20, 2011

Camp II

Friday’s blog (which some of you will have received on Saturday) was all about camp, and pondered some of the possible reasons why people so look forward to going to camp or reunion year after year. I now have new information to share on that subject.

These new insights are a result of having spent a weekend at our new workshop for camp staff training; the Skills and Leadership Weekend conducted this year at Ziontario campgrounds. The workshop was attended by more than 60 people who varied in age from young teens just old enough to serve as LITs (leaders-in-training) to wise elders who were already directing camps before those teens were born or even thought of! Before a certain set of proud grandparents corrects me, let me hasten to add that there were also five “future campers” in attendance, one of whom is less than one year old.

The Skills and Leadership weekend is the brain-child of the CEM camping commission, which really seems to have found its footing now. The 2011 workshop included training for camp staff in such areas as conflict resolution, using Social Media appropriately, and group facilitation. There were also specialized classes for camp directors and business managers, pastors, and LITs. It was very gratifying to have so many attend this first effort at such a training event. It was very worthwhile.

At various points during the weekend there was opportunity for sharing and discussion, which is were the new information emerged about why people love the camps so much. The following are just a few comments that were shared.
*Camp was the first place that I ever felt safe.
*At camp, I was not afraid to be who I really was.
*Here people accept me just the way I am with all my faults.
*I didn’t miss a camp for 17 years, and then I wasn’t able to go for a few years. I really missed it and am so excited to be back.
*I brought a friend last year who had no prior relationship with God. She loved the church services and told me she had never felt this feeling before in her whole life.
Camp: a place of safety and acceptance, a place that is a spiritual home to many, a place to find God; In short, camp is a Community of Christ. No wonder people love going to camp so much. It is a truly amazing and life-changing experience as the testimonies quoted above indicate.

In follow up to Friday’s impromptu invitation, I have been away all weekend but I am already aware that at least one person has indicated a willingness to pay for a kid whose parents cannot afford to send them to camp. I wish to express my deep appreciation for her spirit of generosity and love. Perhaps you also are considering such a gift. If so, there is still time and we would love to hear from you.

May God’s Spirit richly bless you as you remember camps gone by and look forward to those yet to come.

Posted by Carman

Friday, June 17, 2011


I have been hearing a lot of talk about numbers lately, all of it related to the rapidly approaching camp and reunion season. Here are a two selected samples of conversations I have heard.

1. (A conversation from only about a week ago.)
Question: Why are you budgeting for reduced income? Are you expecting fewer people this year?
Answer: Yes, as of now, we have significantly less people registered for the reunion.

2. (A Conversation from today.)
Question: How are registrations for the reunion looking?
Answer: Good. As of today we have 197 people committed. People are requesting space in a certain dorm, and those rooms were all filled some time ago. We will have at least as many as last year if not more.

An interesting contrast, isn’t it? But the really fascinating thing is that both of these conversations were about the same reunion, and the two discussions only occurred about a week apart! Everywhere I am hearing stories of things coming together, and registrations filling up. I think it is going to be a great summer for the camping season.

What is it about camps and reunions that makes people so interested? Why is it that people look forward to it and really want to be there? Is it the guest ministry? Is it the meals in the dining hall? The fellowship? The friendship? Is it because you get away from work, or computers, or phones? Is it because we can’t afford to fly to P.E.I. this year, but we can afford to go to camp? Is it the change of pace? Or is it because our lives were blessed there before, and we know they will be again?

There are probably as many reasons as people, or perhaps as many ways of expressing the real reasons as there are people who will come. Whatever the reasons, I can tell that the level of anticipation is building. People are staking claim to their room or campsite, getting their kids registered for classes, and making sure they have the time booked off work. The level of excitement is growing. We can feel it.

What about you; are you going to reunion this year? Are your kids or grandkids going to camp? Are you looking forward to the experience with anticipation? Are you excited?

And speaking of kids, we are aware of a large number of children who want to go to camp this year, whose parents simply cannot afford to send them. Is it important that they get to go? Probably. What do we do? We find people who can send them. Are you interested in helping send a kid to camp? If so, you can contact us at the CEM office and we will assist you. Or to paraphrase a famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire; we will “help-you-help-them!”

So, see you at the camp?

Posted by Carman

Thursday, June 16, 2011


OK I admit I'm feeling kind of sad this morning. I'm guessing I'm not alone. Maybe that's the good part of it--we have plenty of company being sad together.

As I listened to the news early this morning my sadness at the score of that final hockey game began to be compounded by the disappointing behaviour that followed. Oh my, Vancouver, you can do better. And of course they are, as the "rest" of the folks are lining up to help clean up and apologize for the mess.

It did seem, as the news continued to unfold, that there was an unusual amount of just plain sadness there. People return to burned out homes in Great Slave; incidence of syphilis soars in Alberta; labour actions and government responses in a couple of our very large public institutions continue to unfold. Oh there is much to be sad about this morning.

Even people I know and care about are struggling with broken relationships, major health challenges...I can go on and on. That's the way it is with sadness. When you feel sad, you see it everywhere. I'm glad that I am the sort of person who knows that this will pass. For the most part, I'm a happy person who can generally find things to rejoice about. Hence, the name of this very blog. We do focus on the "good word". And we don't have much trouble finding good words to celebrate.

But I want to remind myself, and you too, dear reader, that in our midst are many people who don't or can't find that silver lining. There are people who sit in the midst of sadness all the time, who don't know or can't convince themselves that "this too shall pass." They are clinically depressed. Depression is just one of the mental health disorders that trouble too many people in our community. You can't tell from just looking at them. In fact, many clinically depressed people have learned to wear a mask that keeps you from noticing their sadness.

Maybe today, since we're feeling a bit sad ourselves, this would be a good day to check out the Canadian Mental Health website for some information about how mental illness affects us, what we can do about it, and where we can learn more.

If we are called to end suffering ( and we are!) here is a place to begin. What better way to turn our own sadness into something better.

Have a good day everyone!

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Merrie Bande

Somewhere along the line, our fine group of Bishops in CEM got dubbed the Merrie Bande, or more properly, the Merrie Bande of Bishops. The title is appropriate. From time to time, they have also laughingly been referred to as “the pointy hat people”. Further, since two of their members began their spiritual journey in the Catholic church before migrating to Community of Christ, they are sometimes referred to as the “former Catholic Bishops.” As you can see, this group knows how to have fun when they are together.

Some people have a stereotypical image of Bishops as this group of staid, boring, bean counters, but when our group comes together, you see a very different picture. What you see is a group of ministers with a heart for helping people. Each has their own specialty, or in other words, each has different gifts. One has specialized in oblation assistance. Another is an expert at financial records. One or more has a passion for Good $ense ministry, and so on. They are a wonderful asset to our mission centre, and a great resource to our people.

Today (Wednesday) the Merrie Bande comes together to discuss another aspect of their role in our collective mission. Together we will discuss the Mission Initiatives President Veazey recently opened to the church, and how the Bishops can help the church be about the task. We will discuss how to use some new tools the church has provided, and ways of sharing those with you, the church.

I am looking forward to this day, not because the Merrie Bande will laugh together although they will. I am excited because this wonderful group of people with a heart for ministry and a specialized calling will get new tools with which to minister. What a wonderful thing to anticipate. Its going to be a beautiful day.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to drive through the countryside through the hills and fields of Wellington and Bruce counties’ most excellent pasturelands, lush grassy expanses (one of the pluses of all this rain we’ve experienced). What a joy to spend that time just soaking in the solitude of perfect spring weather along secondary roads, not much bothered by traffic or pressures to hurry or get out of the way. A great way for an “introvert” to spend the day!

One thing I noticed on every side was the great abundance of babies in those fields! Calves and lambs and foals abounded. Slow driving, even pulling off to watch newborns in play or in exploring or just “being” there in that lush pasture was lovely. So many babies! What an image of the great generosity of creation.

And of potential. I recall reading of an encounter between inventor and scientist Michael Faraday and his queen. Electricity in the earliest days of the nineteenth century looked much more like a parlor trick or illusion practised by amateur magicians. Queen Victoria was interested. She invited Faraday to lunch and visited his laboratory. [Note: you might be interested to know that Faraday had to miss church to have lunch with the queen and was expelled from his eldership and even his membership in his congregation who did not think his excuse for missing worship was sufficient.]

The queen enjoyed his “tricks” but didn’t see much practical use for this “new” phenomenon.

“Of what use is this electricity of yours, Mr. Faraday?” she asked.

“Madam, of what use is a baby?” was his wise response.

I suspect some of our human fascination with babies, especially our own human babies, is our subconscious awareness of the amazing potential for a future as yet unimagined. What lies before the babies we welcome so warmly in our midst? It is very normal for the presider to offer a special welcome to the baby in the front row—just as she did, yesterday at the church I attended. We are all so happy to have a baby in our midst. Even a baby who may be noisy or distracting, as our baby was not, is much more troublesome to his or her own parents than to most of us, really.

A baby’s presence speaks to the future. GTA West congregation yesterday took a step towards that future. They will seek out a location where they can most fully live out the mission they are feeling called to explore. Many members spoke of their faith in stepping into that as yet uncertain future. They shared their sense that they are being summoned into a new area where they may serve the community better. Realizing that they don’t have all the answers yet, they rest a bit on the confidence of the wise elders who spoke of taking this journey before. They listened to the voices of the young adults who promised to seek out those who need the blessings of this community.

It was a meeting that felt quite a lot like that experience in the country the day before. Babies, potential, grace, generosity and wonderful future imagined.

Posted by Marion

Monday, June 13, 2011

Port Elgin

In Friday's blog, Marion has already alluded to the fact that this past weekend, the CEM staff was scattered to the four winds. Mike Hewitt was in Ottawa, Marion Smith went to GTA-West on Sunday after being in Port Elgin on Saturday, Susan Skoor offered ministry in Grand Valley, and I was in Port Elgin. I will share a brief report on events in Port Elgin, and perhaps we can catch up on some of the others another day.

The occasion was the gathering of the four congregations that make up the Mighty Waters Mission Advocacy group: Wiarton, Owen Sound, Port Elgin and Collingwood. The weekend began with Marion leading the group through the Discover Your Spiritual Type workshop. If you have never had a chance to work through this study, I highly recommend you do. The text is the book of the same title by Corinne Ware. I have participated more than once, and it is always very revealing. It is a pleasure to see congregation members begin to understand why different people react to various ideas and practices the way they do, and why they don’t “just all think like me.” The workshop, along with the wonderful food provided by Port Elgin’s members made for a very rewarding day.

Sunday’s activities began with the awarding of Port Elgin’s annual Peace Scholarship, given each year to a student from the local high school. The selection committee that reviews all the applications for the scholarship is made up of people from the community as well as representatives from the congregation. 2011 is the tenth year this scholarship has been awarded, and the committee reported having a very difficult time choosing between six fine applicants. Each of them would have been deserving of the scholarship due to their peace making efforts in their community and beyond. In the end, the scholarship went to a very deserving young lady who is definitely making a difference. We wish Emily every success in life, and look forward to hearing more of her efforts for peace.

The congregation then gathered for worship to celebrate Pentecost. I do not know if it was the stimulation caused by the awarding of the peace scholarship that made everyone so attentive, but as a speaker, I have seldom had a congregation as focused as this group was. Pentecost is a unique day in the Christian calendar, and in some ways, a difficult one to grasp deeply, yet this congregation remained sharp and attentive, even as the minute hand made its rapid way a little past noon. It was gratifying to see a group so interested in the story of the Holy Spirit’s movement. Of course the service was followed by a wonderful pot-luck lunch and lots more great fellowship.

Perhaps the most delightful surprise of the weekend for me, however, was meeting old friends and acquaintances, some of whom I had not seen for more than 40 years. Each brief reconnection was followed by an all too short visit to try to catch up on what had happened to each other in that interval. Not all the news was good, but the visits and reconnections were wonderful.

So another busy weekend has come and gone, this one spent in the charming community of Port Elgin. There is much more I could share, however I will summarize by saying that this was a wonderful weekend indeed.

Posted by Carman

Friday, June 10, 2011


Many of us have been dealing with the effects of wind this spring. My drive to work every morning is marked by noting which neighbourhood has the worst tree damage! Everything from stray branches to huge, hundred-year-old trees tipped right out of the ground.

A couple of mornings ago I observed the canvas and aluminum tubing shelter from the corner fruit and veggie stand draped unceremoniously around the cemetery gate and fence around the corner and across the street!

Of course, I've recently returned from Missouri where the tornado sirens kept me and Tiona in the basement most of one day. This after watching the horrific news pictures of tornado damage in nearby Joplin.

Are you thinking of the winds of Spirit this week? I've had a moment or two to reflect on the notion of the winds of Pentacost. It's much more traditional--maybe a whole lot more comfortable--to consider the wind of the Spirit as gentle and balmy. Not often is it thought of as an unstoppable power, a roaring freight train, though that's the most common descriptor of these tornadic forces we've been experiencing.

How are you thinking of the winds of the Spirit today?

Oh, and by the way, I began this post with the thought that your CEM staff is cast to all the directions of the wind this weekend. I had supposed I would give you a quick list of just how many things are going on today, tomorrow and Sunday. We'll be in the land of the mighty waters, the nation's capital, GTA West, Grand Valley. And you all will of course be doing what you are doing, blown by whatever wind blows you.

What kind of winds are blowing in your community? Are you feeling calm and refreshed by a gentle breeze? Or are you feeling a great and mighty blast from a Spirit on the move?

Looking forward to hearing how all these amazing events unfold.

Posted by Marion

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blessings of Community

Can we talk? I mean, can we have a real conversation here? That would require us being in dialogue, which means you would need to talk too, so can we talk? I have a question on which I seriously would like your input. It is as follows.

What are the blessings of community? What blessings have you experienced as a result of being part of the Community of Christ? When Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a says “invite all to share in the blessings of community, what does that mean to you? Can we identify the blessings we have to share?

In order to make this easier, I was tempted to create a survey so that you would only need to check the boxes beside the benefits you have experienced, but that might be making it too easy. I could be putting words in your mouth, and I want to hear your thoughts on the subject, not simply have you agree with one of my ideas.

So can we talk? Will you click on the Read or Post Comments button below and share the benefits you have experienced? You may not think it, but your thoughts are important. I think they matter. If we know what it is we have to share, then perhaps we can do a better job of sharing it.

The statement in Section 161 we are discussing is:
Invite all to share in the blessings of community.
The context in which the statement is embedded is as follows.
Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely, despised, fearful, neglected, unloved. Reach out in understanding, clasp their hands, and invite all to share in the blessings of community created in the name of the One who suffered on behalf of all. – D.&C. 161:3a

You may wish to consider the statement alone or in context. Either way, I hope you will share your thoughts. You are welcome to do so anonymously if you prefer. So there is the question. Will you share your answer?

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


On the first weekend of June, a group of Evangelists gathered from across CEM to spend a weekend with Presiding Evangelist David Brock. A few spouses joined them and two younger couples who came to provide ministry, plus support with KP. In all, 21 people gathered together. It was a good weekend. As the weekend progressed, something began to tug at the edges of my consciousness. It was not until the retreat was over that I was able to put my finger on what it was.

The order of Evangelists is made of up mature ministers who have the earned wisdom and experience to reflect God’s grace to others as ministers of blessing. Most of the group that gathered has reached retirement age, some recently through retiring early, and some many years ago. Most people look forward to the retirement years with an eye to taking things a little easier. Perhaps we hope to spend more time with family, or on a beach somewhere. Perhaps we want to travel, have stacks of books we plan to read, or boxes of photos we hope to label and organize. Sometimes we hear people suggesting that they have done their part, and now it is time to sit back and relax, perhaps a little like Jesus’ parable of the barns in Luke 12.

I heard no such comments this weekend; not once. Oh there were questions asked, or statements made about possible superannuation, but not so those considering the possibility could take life easier. The few such comments that were made were always in tandem with questions about the capacity of the minister to continue to offer high quality ministry in their advancing years. “Do I have the stamina to be able to offer people the support they need? Is my memory or ability to think clearly still acute enough to do my job well? Is my ministry still current in relation to the age in which we live?”

To be clear, we all like to sit on the beach some times, and there is nothing wrong with that. Several of the Evangelists who gathered this weekend spend at least some time in Florida during the winter. But even there they seem to have been offering ministry in the places where they were. Further, from the constant stream of emails I saw, many of them used that time to firm up their plans for ministry when they got home. It is refreshing to be with a group of ministers with such devotion to God, the church, the people they serve. It is inspiring. They truly are ministers of blessing.

This post is in honour of the dedicated women and men who lovingly watch over the church, always looking for an opportunity to be a blessing to others. God’s Spirit graced our gathering this weekend. Your love and devotion ensured it would be so. May you continue to be blessed in the ministry you offer to all God's children.

Posted by Carman

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Today we salute our readers who’ve followed us faithfully to our 500th blog post! We thought it appropriate to acknowledge you out there with whom we’ve been carrying on this “What’s the Good Word” conversation every weekday for almost two years. Thank You!

You thank us; you offer your insights; you share information; you ask good questions; you surprise us daily. Here are some selections from your side of that ongoing conversation.

Betty: The blog helps inspire me to move on “How can we be more mission-oriented?” I’m going to invite friends to a meal and talk about this.

Butterfly: May the Barrie congregation continue to bloom and grow.

Anonymous: Society’s pull is strong. But so is the call to Mission. What will we choose to reflect?

Mel: You are the ultimate hardware store—thanks for all the tools you share.

Walrus: Check out the Amplified Bible…download lots of versions to blackberries and smart phones…

Kris: Learning to share our voice and invitation in ways authentic yet respectful is needed. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous: Your blog helped me resolve an issue that is bothering me. I’ve been having trouble putting into words how much I love the present church even though it is different from the one I joined 65 years ago. I have followed its evolving and welcomed each change as “more light and truth breaks from the word.” Thank you for your insight and words of wisdom.

MM: I lived in Malaysia…and remember the Muslim calls to prayer…always reminded me of praying and thanking God. We might all be better off if we were reminded five times a day to thank God for all his grace and goodness.

Steve: You do know that Born to Be Wild isn’t about a car trip, right?

Betty: I felt like I just wanted to eat up your great words of counsel…

Kathy: I am prompted to “polish the apples” as I see students I care for.

Carole: God is often in church, but he is very accessible in his beautiful creation.

Marilyn: Oh yes, mountains are sacred space.

Bewarethechicken: Celtic metaphor instructs that the veil between heaven and earth is three feet thick, but in certain places and times there are thin places where we are particularly close to God.

Arlene: Thanks for the link to Steve Veazey’s blog.

Shirley: The call to pastor cannot be denied. The call not to be pastor may be harder to discern.

John: There are times when “no” is the most appropriate answer.

Jan/Stacie wrote about “personal seating” in church. Shirley and Chick shared favourite scriptures from Romans. Kyle shared his story of going back to school and the next phase of his spiritual journey in response to “10,000 steps.”

Dave offered the UU’s on-line contact for non-attenders in response to our “post congregational” conversation. Anne hopes never to lose “real” books. Cathy and Matt both hope to keep their pastoral eye on true vision and passion. Irina shared her Russian eye on our concept of “busy.” And on, and on.

Once again we salute you all who continue to read, comment, engage in and consider our blog thoughts. Two others who regularly add Comments to the Blog—

Carman: Thanks Marion

Marion: Thank you too Carman.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I'm in a bit of a confessional mood today I guess. Today I'm going to share something that isn't exactly a secret but that not everyone entirely "gets" about me: I'm a radical, off-the-charts

This week as I’m thinking about sharing some information on spirituality types with the folks at Port Elgin next weekend, my thinking has led me into the territory of personality types. Psychologists Katherine Briggs and Isabelle Briggs-Myers major body of work provided me lots of helpful stuff back in a previous life teaching management concepts and has continued to be most helpful in knowing myself and others generally. The Spiritual Types model is based on the same research.

Just briefly, one and only one area of interest is the Extroversion/Introversion characteristic. The terms are used somewhat differently than most folks do who refer to people of particular social aptitude or shyness, or just volume of communication by the terms extrovert or introvert. Myers-Briggs are speaking about where or how one gets her energy.

Extroverts get energy from other people. They love being in crowds. They have and enjoy lots of friends. And if they’re not with their friends, they’re loving being with whomever they’re with. My granddaughter Tiona is just such a person. Even at her tender age of not-quite-five, she can work a crowd like nobody’s business. Waiting on the sidewalk outside her big brother’s school choir concert she quickly surveyed every other kid near her size, knew all their names and ages, had shared her name and details of her upcoming birthday, let everyone know she will be starting school soon and enquired of their academic status—attending? Yes/no? Which school? etc., etc.

Introverts need alone time to find energy. While they may be quite socially adept, not necessarily shy with strangers, enjoy a party with the best of them (when their energy levels are high) and even have decent public speaking skills, they become tired from those activities and will need some alone time to re-energize. Talking with just one or two people feels more comfortable. They’ll prefer to be alone if the company isn’t interesting or engaging. Re-booting the energy levels is preferable to draining one’s battery on small talk or not-so-necessary interaction. Sometimes they’ll even turn down an opportunity to be with someone or ones they really enjoy and love being with if their energy is low.

In North America, at least, introverts are in the minority. We often need to protect ourselves from the majority expectations that “everyone” is or wants to be extroverted. That just is not so.

A couple of good sources of information or help on the topics are these: Quiet: The Power of Introverts and Introverted Church If this is new for you I recommend you take a look around you. Do you recognize any of these descriptors in your friends and family—maybe even yourself? Think about it. It might explain a lot.

Posted by Marion

Friday, June 3, 2011


Last Wednesday evening, the board of directors of both Sionito Development Corporation and Zerin Development corporation met with a Toronto developer to try to move mountains. This is a little board of ordinary folks whose mission is to provide housing and services to impoverished seniors. On the night in question, the agenda is the possibility of leveraging the equity in two small apartment buildings the charity owns to build a new, more modern, efficient facility.

As the conversation with the developer begins, one of the mountains that must be moved becomes more visible: we do not speak the same language. For the developer, the conversation is about making money for his investors. For the charity, the conversation is about the chance to provide services to more people. Profit does not come into it because we are a non-profit charity and besides, there is none.

Another mountain the board must face is risk, and this is a big one. The new project will cost millions of dollars and will need to be financed through a mortgage. The budget can be drawn, the numbers checked and rechecked, the plans can be made and architects hired, but what are the unknown costs? What surprised await? There will certainly be some, but we are novices in this field and cannot know all the answers. Can the developer be persuaded to help?

Still one more mountain is fear. If the risks are so large in this new venture, why consider the project at all? The answer is because it is the board’s mission to serve impoverished seniors, and this represents a significant opportunity to serve more people in need. Put another way, it is a way that Sionito and Zerin can contribute to abolishing poverty and ending suffering.

All this brings to mind the Book of Mormon text that inspired the Zerin name so many years ago.
O Lord, thy righteous will be done, for I know that thou workest unto the children of men according to their faith; for the Brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove, and it was removed. – Ether 5:30
We understand the reference to be metaphorical, of course, and in that sense it is perfect. This little board gathers to attempt a project they have not done before. They lack the powerful tools of money and experience, but they gather in faith. Can they move the mountains that stand in their way? Only God knows. O Lord, thy righteous will be done.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Today is the first day of a new Canadian Parliament. For better or for worse, our system of government operates on an adversarial principle. Right up there with official title, fancy office and traditional functions is the role of “official opposition” whose job it is to “oppose” what it sees the government doing that it considers wrong or misguided. And to point those things out vigourously.

It would be nice, and hopefully it will be possible, to point out those things the opposition opposes in a civil and helpful manner, but regardless of that, the Opposition will oppose. It might seem that this is an easy job. That objecting and offering the contrary position would come naturally. But I think that isn’t necessarily so. It seems to me that most of us have a greater tendency to just “go along.”

One day our family was out driving. Tiona (almost five) spotted a big brightly coloured object out her window. “What do you think that is Grandma?”

“I think it’s a water tower.”

“Daddy? Mommy? What do you think it is?”

“I think it’s a water tower too,” both replied.

“Well, if Grandma thinks so, and Daddy thinks so, and Mommy thinks so, then I think so too,” was her final answer. And of course we all smile at her predictable cuteness. But even then, we were realizing that it was somewhat unusual for our precious redhead to be so agreeable.

There is research to indicate that our thinking will be of a much better quality if we allow for different perspectives, if we take time before reaching conclusions to check out what other ideas, possibilities, options might exist.

I spent enough time in airports to realize that the faces of humanity are extremely varied and diverse. You can’t sit and watch the thousands of human beings passing by and not be struck by the vast range of sizes, shapes, colours, ages, height, weight, costume possessed by our fellow inhabitants of this earth. Surely there are also many perspective on the ideas that emerge from our thinking. And yet, as we settle more deeply into the Internet age and have opportunity to live among our friends, seek out like-minded communities and interests, narrow our newsfeeds to sources that agree with us, it is possible to live life almost entirely without opposition.

I’m suggesting today that this is a bad thing! It may take a greater discipline to seek out the opposing perspectives; it may take more personal restraint to remain civil in our listening to opposite ideas. But it will be worth it. And it’s part of our responsibility as citizens and as seekers and thinking disciples to consider those other perspectives. It’s what makes opposition a valuable commodity, not to be shunned but truly considered and celebrated.

Any other ideas on that?

Posted by Marion