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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?"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


How does one think about the unthinkable?
How does one speak to the horror?
How does one help hearts that have been broken, torn out, kicked and stomped upon, yet must still beat on?

Will words help?

Perhaps, but words must not be unthinking platitudes or they will be like trying to paper over a wall with gaping holes caused by earthquakes or missiles.

Will prayers help?  Yes, and sometimes prayers are all we have to give.
Still, prayers alone often do not seem to be enough, do they?
In the words of Jewell's song that changed my life,
There are millions of people who pray for peace
But if praying were enough it would have come to be.

Will acts of loving kindness help?

Yes, but like words, actions can be at risk of becoming condescending charity or pity.  Prayers, words and actions must be from pure, unselfish hearts of grace that are solely for others with nothing asked or expected in return; not gratitude or even acknowledgement.

Are we capable of that kind of generosity?  Am I?

The unthinkable has happened.

The unthinkable has happened again.

The unthinkable demands that we think about what it really means to be


...followers of Jesus

...the hands of Jesus

...the word of Jesus each other

...and to others.

God grant us the miracle of grace to be the Presence to each other and to ALL others.

It is the only way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Post-dated Remembrance Day Prayer

Remembrance Day Prayer 

Dear God,

As adults in this world, as keepers of the littlest of Your children, we are charged with the task of explaining how the world we live in actually works. Not least of which, I might add, is the insurmountable, alpine task of explaining to these innocent, wide-eyed children why wars happen, why people feel the need to kill one another, why hatred exists, the reason why their big brother or sister is never coming home again. I feel so unequipped for this task, O God. I can’t even begin to understand why these things happen for myself, Lord, let alone explain it to our most precious of cargo, and to be frank, oh Lord, I’m not sure that I ever want to understand that kind of hatred.
What I do know, O God, is that for all the evil man has created in Your world, for all the atrocities we see, and that we attempt to prepare our young to go out into, Lord, You are the good, You alone are the way, the truth, the light and the life. Despite all the bad in our world, or perhaps because of it, You have planted a mustard seed of talent within each and every one of us, a gift to be used for the establishment of Your Kingdom. 

I pray to You, O God, on this Remembrance Day, I beg of You, to help us remember the power which each of us has inside, the power to affect change, to be a pillar of light and of all that is good in this world, a pillar of Your love, help us to be Your hands, on earth, God, doing Your will, spreading Your message of love and salvation to everyone we meet, Lord, not through proselytizing, but in the way in which we live our lives, Lord, may we always seek to glorify You. 

For although we are fortunate to live in an area of the world that remains relatively untouched by armed combat, and although the war-torn areas of the world often seem so far away, Lord, the same blood that runs through their veins, runs through ours, and the same blood that runs through our veins runs through theirs, we are one. And if the peace that we seek, that we pray for each day, shall come to pass, the kind of all-encompassing world peace that will bring an end to war, hatred, and suffering, if that peace is ever to come and reign over all of Your children, Lord, it must begin with us. It is in our day-to-day interactions with other people, Lord, that we create that peace that can change the world. Please help us to use the power You have instilled in all of us, Lord, for good. Help us feel Your love for us, Lord, that we may forgive ourselves for our own missteps. Help us to share the love and to treat each person we encounter with respect and understanding, bearing in mind that the wars we send our young men and women off to fight, end with us, and our actions and how we choose to treat each other, with Your love. 

In Christ’s most holy name we pray,

Posted with permission from Aarika Black, Hamilton Congregation, Nov 11, 2012

Friday, November 23, 2012

Toilet Paper

It was not because it was American Thanksgiving yesterday that I started thinking about this, although it is something to be thankful for, and I am.  Nor is it the fact that today is so called Black Friday and several million people are out frantically shopping for great bargains on things they mostly don't really need, (Just saying).  This reflection started simply because the toilet paper roll was empty. I opened the cupboard to get some more and there they were, several rolls all lined up just waiting until they were needed.

 At the risk of sounding really, really, really old, when I was a child we did not have toilet paper.  We didn't have a bathroom for that matter.  What we had was a well ventilated outhouse, especially in the wintertime!  I know some of you will have similar memories, while others are probably appalled.  To my childhood mind, the lack of indoor plumbing and toilet paper did not make us poor since all our neighbours had the same.  My grandmother told us that when she was a child they had to go to the bush!  We really had nothing to complain about. Of course toilet paper was not unknown to us, but it was beyond our family budget.  Instead we had last year's Eaton's or Simpson's catalogue.  It was the 1950s form of recycling paper I guess.

At S.S. # 2 Eastnor school, toilet paper was provided but students were always cautioned to use it sparingly.  I can still here the teacher saying to use "just one square!"  We didn't.

In preparation for a trip to Honduras for a World Accord build last January, one of the things we were told to take with us was toilet paper.  In that not-so-far-away part of the world, T-paper is still a luxury item for many people and not readily available, so we should bring our own.  We did.

How many people in our world today still do not have toilet paper, I wonder?  How many people use an old catalogue or newspaper, or magazine or whatever they can find?  Probably millions.  How many people must go beyond the treeline to relieve themselves, then use leaves or long grass? 

Some readers may find this a weird post and wonder what on earth I was thinking, but I am grateful for a heated, indoor washroom with hot and cold running water and flush toilets, especially on nights like tonight when there is a cold wind blowing with snow in the air,.  And I am thankful for a cupboard well stocked with toilet paper.  I do not want to forget the disparity in which we live or take this simple item for granted. 

Do we realize the myriad ways in which we are fortunate? 

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Friends, I am aware that I have not been blogging very frequently on What's the Good Word? and that is a disappointment to some of you, however I am determined to only post when I have something to say that I think (or hope) matters.  I am also watching for inspired or thought provoking work by others that can be shared here.  Sometimes permission to put that work on the blog comes easily, and sometimes it takes a while or is not forthcoming.

For the next three weeks I will be away, and hopefully not near a computer.  Let me take this opportunity to remind you that there are many excellent sources of inspiration that are readily available.  Several can be found to the lower left of this blog under the heading, "My Blog List."  I hope you are following some of those.

One such source is The Daily Bread, which you can have sent to your email inbox every day.  It features some excellent writers, and occasionally a sparkling gem or two.  If you are not subscribed to this short, daily, inspirational piece, let me recommend it.  You can start by reading Carolyn Brock's post Ikebana, then if you wish to subscribe, you can do so by clicking on "Subscribe".

In the meantime, if you have sources of inspiration you are finding enjoyable, would you be willing to click on the comments button and share those with the rest of us?

Blessings today,


Friday, November 9, 2012

Blue Christmas

Everyone of us has something in common.  We have all experienced …


It could be:
the death of a family member, friend or pet;
the end of a relationship through divorce or estrangement;
the loss of a job or career;
a move that has left you physically and/or emotionally disconnected;
and so, so, so, much more.
We are getting to the time of year where people are celebrating
Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, and more.

However, a lot of people who have experienced a loss don’t think they should celebrate.       They think that they shouldn’t laugh,  smile, or have happy thoughts.  Instead they think that they should be miserable, lonely or just waiting to feel better no matter how long that takes.
If you would like to stop waiting and actually start looking forward to this holiday season, 
EVERYONE is invited to join us for our

Sunday, November 25, 2012
2:00 p.m.
Community of Christ Church
817 Upper Sherman Avenue at Cameo
Hamilton, Ontario
Major intersection is Upper Sherman Ave and Mohawk Rd
Just east of the No Frills / Walmart plaza

Refreshments to follow

If you wish, please bring a candle to light and a photo to display.
Candles will be re-lit during our Christmas Eve Service. 
Photos will be returned at the end of the Blue Christmas Service.
Need more info? or or the phone # above.

Posted on behalf of  Hamilton Community of Christ

Monday, November 5, 2012


So, I am thinking this morning about how we invite friends and neighbours to various events at church.  Specifically, this pondering is about the way we describe the event in which we would like people to participate.  Here is why.

Last (Sunday) evening, I spent a lovely couple of hours with some friends from the Hamilton congregation.  There were six people present besides me plus two young folks, perhaps too old to be called children, in an adjoining room.  The evening got a lot more interesting when one of the participants came in carrying three pies she had baked.  Now I need to confess that I never met a pie I didn't like, so I am probably biased, but to paraphrase  Renée Zellweger's famous comment in the movie Jerry Maguire, she had me at hello!

The evening was planned to help congregation members and leaders learn more about hospitality, and how to be a welcoming church.  We talked for about ninety minutes, discussing several aspects of the subject.  The conversation included a lot of good-natured joking around, and then the leader closed with prayer.  It was time for pie.

The choices  included a lovely looking raspberry pie with real whipped cream, a delicious banana cream pie, and a coconut cream pie that was simply to die for.  Mmmmm!  The two young folks joined us and together we had a great time eating more pie than was probably good for us.  It was so delicious!  What a great evening.  Too bad there weren't more people present.  And that brings me to the point of this blog.

How would you invite folks to such an event?  Would you say,
"We're having a meeting to talk about how to become a more welcoming church; would you like to come?"  (This might be called the boring, business like approach; probably not too interesting and perhaps even scary for unchurched friends.)

Or would you say,
"Some folks are coming to our pastor's house to talk about how we can make the church more welcoming, and I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Will you come?"  (Better, but probably still pretty scary for non-members.)
 Or how about something like (to anyone and everyone),
"I'm getting together with some friends from church to visit about how we can make church better.  They are fun people and I'd really like you to meet them.  The highlight of the evening will be that we get to sample some of Mary's wonderful pies.  Come with me.  Its going to be a fun evening, you'll meet some new people, and I promise the pie will be delicious!" 
Now, I am not trying to be critical and I am trusting that my dear friends in Hamilton know me well enough to realize that.  I really don't know how the word went out about this event, but I can guess.  If they were like most congregations, it was probably in the bulletin or up on the screen during the announcement time.  That's okay, but I'm guessing we could have easily doubled or tripled the number of people present if we had also used the more personal and interesting approach above.  Why not invite friends or neighbours to such a gathering?  Wouldn't their input be wonderful and helpful?  They would certainly enjoy themselves, and probably they would also have been blessed by Brother Kerry's touching prayer.

If you would like to know more about what the Hamilton folks are thinking about these days, check out their website at

What are your ideas about how to invite folks to participate in fun events at church?

Okay, enough of this, I wonder if there is any of that pie left that Mary sent home for Joan. 

Posted by Carman

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Will You Pray For Me?

About a week ago, I posted a blog entitled Peace about the experience of Evangelist Lu Mountenay of Independence MO.  I did not know at that time that her post would have a sequel.  It is remarkably touching and very worth reading.  It is amazing what can happen when we are deeply prayerful and really open to the leading of God's Spirit.

I invite you to click on the following link and read of Lu's continuing adventure with God's children in Was Poverty Their Crime?.

I know that some of you had similarly remarkable experiences as you have followed the Spirit who led you into unfamiliar places.  Would you be willing to share at least one of those with the rest of us?  If so, please click on the comments button and share those special moments, or if you would prefer, send me an email at  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I have been somewhat encouraged lately about the church in Canada East.  I might even go so far as to say I have allowed myself to become just a little bit hopeful.  I am encouraged because a few congregations seem to be "getting it", that church is about serv-ice, and not about serve-us.  The following are a few examples that give me hope.

Brydges Street Community of Christ in London has been reaching out to their neighbourhood through regular community dinners.  These and other events are designed to bring them into dialogue with their neighbours so they can be of service to them.  They feed the hungry, both those who hunger for food and those who hunger for human contact.  They provided the school across the street with support in the form of playground resources for the children which they paid for but gave away for free.  That brought them into contact with the parent-teacher group and they partnered with them as a way to serve, again for free.  They work with other churches to provide support for needy families, and that is just the beginning.   After years of being in the area, they have now become part of the community.  The community knows they are there and the neighbourhood is paying attention. A few are even attending church, being baptized and and joining the church in joyfully doing mission.  This congregation has learned to love serving.  Praise God!

Last Sunday I spent the day with Cambridge Community of Christ in a What Matters Most workshop.  This congregation does not own a building but rents space in a neighbourhood filled with rental housing.  There are literally hundreds of families with children and seniors withing a three block radius.  Somehow the Spirit seems to have been whispering and the congregation has been paying attention.  In response, they have decided to become servants to their neighbours.  They began with a community barbeque to which twenty people came.  It was fun, and they met some new folks.  Now they are planning to cook a spaghetti dinner for their neighbours.  This congregation is on the verge of discovering the joy of service, and a hunger seems to be growing inside them to do more of it.  Halleluiah!

Hamilton Community of Christ, like many churches, has grown quite small over the past few years, but that hasn't stopped them from having some big ideas!  Those few member know that they have something of value and importance in their fellowship, something other people long for.  They have meaning in their lives!  What if their little church on Upper Sherman could become "The Meaning Place" for their community?  They are just beginning this journey, but stay tuned, folks, I think you are going to hear a lot more from this faithful, inspired, and caring little community of Jesus followers.

So yes, I am encouraged today and have even begun to have hope.  In fact, there are moments when I allow myself to feel downright excited.  These congregations have rediscovered their purpose!  When we do that, and follow the leading of the Spirit in God's generous love and grace, there is no telling what might happen. 

For more on servant ministry, you might be interested in this post called Saints Wear Aprons (not bibs) from achurchforstarvingartists.  If you want still more, you can follow the links to the original article posted on

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
- Luke 4:18-19

At the time of this writing, the 2013 World Conference of Community of Christ is just 5 ½ months away. Of course that will be 5 ½ months of winter, but lets not think about that just yet, okay?  

Still, time passes quickly, something I am becoming increasingly aware of the older I get. Like previous conference, the 2013 event will be held at the Church's international headquarters in Independence, Missouri.   Before we know it, conference time will be here.  Those who are willing and able to attend are already putting their names on the CEM delegate list.  If you are a member of Community of Christ and would like to represent Canada East Mission at the 2013 World Conference, you should let Cheryl Campbell know if you have not already done so.  There are still some vacancies available, but the sooner you reserve your place, the better.  

In preparation for the conference, the First Presidency has asked each of us to take the time to make some personal preparation by spending time in study and prayer using Peter Judd’s new book, Christ’s Mission is Our Mission.  This compact but thorough resource calls us to explore deeply the meaning and ministry of Luke 4:16-30.  

To help accomplish this, the book is divided into six chapters, each dwelling on one aspect of the scripture cited above.  Each chapter is further divided by a series of questions for reflection.  These are conveniently embedded into the text at regular intervals, with plenty of material for at least a week spent on each chapter.   Following this method, we might expect to make this resource a daily companion for approximately six weeks.  It will be time well spent, especially in those coming (shiver) winter months.

Christ's Mission is Our Mission is available by mail order from Herald House.  A supply has also been ordered to be available at the CEM office in Guelph for your convenience.

Hmm... now, I wonder why that snow shovel is hanging there right by the garage door!

Posted by Carman

Sunday, October 28, 2012


What does it mean to believe in peace?  To work for Peace?  To pray for Peace?  Is peace even possible in our world?  Can we really make a difference?  How can we do that?  This dilemma is caught up in the words of one my favorite songs;
 There are plenty of people who pray for peace,
But if praying were enough it would have come to be.
-Jewel, Life Uncommon, from her Spirit Album
 How can we make a difference?  That question must have weighted heavily on the mind of Evangelist Lu Mountenay when a nuclear weapons plant was being built in Kansas City, Missouri.  What could she do?  Could she have any impact?  She would never know if she didn't try.

Before writing further, I should tell you that I have a lot of admiration for this gentle but determined lady.  Lu is a cancer survivor.  She and her husband Tom are also the parents of several children and grandchildren, including a son who lost his battle with the same disease.  During the summer of 2004, Joan and I were on a house hunting trip in Lamoni, IA because I was being reassigned to Graceland University as Campus Minister.  Lu and Tom were being reassigned to Independence.  By happy coincidence, we spent a half hour with Lu in the basement of her home when tornado sirens sounded their ominous warning.  That was enough to convince us that a basement was a very good thing to have when you live in "tornado alley", even though most people there don't have one.  We bought their home. 

That now seems a long time ago.  And the threat of tornadoes, while always potentially devastating, pales in comparison to the larger threat of nuclear weapons.  What could one Evangelist do?

Lu's story about this is best told in her own words, which you can find by clicking here.  I hope you enjoy it.

Of course Lu's story raises one more question: What can you and I do to help bring about peace?

Of course I am pretty good at identifying the questions, but I'm not so good at acting upon the answers!

Questions (but not answers) posted by Carman

Monday, October 22, 2012


And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you.  (Doctrine and Covenants 85:18a)

There is a candle that sits on the coffee table in our study.  When the candle was new and the flame was first lit, it burned brightly and the flame was easily visible on top.  As time has passed, however, the flame has burned its way deeper into the wick and wax of the candle.  The flame is no longer readily visible, and yet it burns just as hot as ever but at a much deeper level.  The candle now has a soft, warm glow as the irrepressible flame shines through it.  If one sits in the dark with the candle glowing, it produces a peaceful presence of gentle warmth.  

In some ways, this candle reminds me of what often happens to people.  When we are young, we often burn hot and bright with great energy and intensity.  Our flame of passion is on the surface and very visible, but subject to every wind or breeze and may be easily blown out.  As we age and gain more life experience, our flame burns deeper with a softer glow and a more gentle presence.  It becomes more resistant to every breeze and harder to extinguish.  It is lovely to be in the presence of people whose life experience has produced a deep faith which gives off a gentle and peaceful light.

May the gift of God's gentle and gracious Presence glow deeply in our lives.

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Small Church (School)

The following link leads to an interesting article from Leading Ideas on the strengths and benefits of small congregations and their often smaller church school.  In fact, the concept draws on the old "one-room (church) school".  Since I attended such a school and Sunday school for the first eight years of my academic learning, this idea resonates with me.  (In fact, the picture above looks remarkably similar to both S. S. # 2 Eastnor School, and the Stokes Bay church!)

What is your Sunday school up to these days?  Are you seeing and maximizing the benefits of smaller, more close knit relationships between students and teachers?

Enjoy The One Room (Church) School House.


Friday, September 21, 2012


Ah, Dios, we have begun to gather.  
Have you waited for our coming?
Has Spirit anxiously anticipated our arrival?
We sense your welcome here.

We take off our shoes, that we may better understand another's journey,
and because we know this place to be Holy.

You have prepared a table before us,
and now we come
from all over the world
to rest in your house
to sup at your table
To be held in your embrace.

Thank You!

Posted by Carman

Friday, September 14, 2012


I came across this video through The Blue Room.  It was filmed in Siguatepeque, Honduras which is what caught my attention because of my own visit there last January during a World Accord build.  You can find the story about a special school in Siguatepeque by clicking here.

For those who may be interested, World Accord has three trips planned for the coming winter. Anyone interested in one of these life-changing adventures can get more information by clicking on this link.  I highly recommend it.

It has been more than two months since I have written on What's the Good Word.  During that time, several of you have commented that you miss this blog.  While I am not promising to write regularly, lately I have felt inclined to post here at least occasionally again.  We'll see where this goes.  In the meantime, enjoy the following video and reflect on the human spirit.  Everything is Incredible 

Friday, July 6, 2012


Dear Friends,

Some of you have commented that we haven't been writing much on the blog lately.  In this case, "much" is a serious understatement, since I haven't posted anything for at least two weeks.  After posting several times each week for the past three years, it seems to be time to take at least a brief sabbatical from blogging.  

Since we started What's The Good Word? we have posted 685 separate articles, plus a variety of responses to the comments of you, our faithful readers.  Some of you will be disappointed by this decision, but a break is clearly needed.

Writing should flow naturally and easily because there is something to say that seems to matter, and for the past three plus years, that has been true for me.  When one has nothing to say, however, it is better to remain silent. 

Now seems to be a time to concentrate on other forms of ministry.  The camping and reunion season is under way, there are problems to be solved and people who need ministry. 

I cannot say how long this "breather" may last; I guess as long as needed.  If you are subscribed to What's The Good Word? you will know when (and if) postings resume. 

In the meantime, I noticed on my morning walk this today that the corn in the nearby farmer's fields is already nearly 5 feet high!  That means our summer is passing, probably faster than we realize, so take the time to get out there and enjoy it!

Blessings...every day,


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hot Tub!

From Barb Kernohan

You never know what can happen when you invite someone to church.
Last December, Gail was invited to come to church by Pam and this time she came.
Gail continued to come and she wanted to learn more about the church. This church was quite different from the church she grew up in.
We were introduced to each other and our friendship began as I gave her many resources to read based on her questions.  She devoured everything I gave her and I tried to answer her questions to the best of my abilities.
We met at different places including Tim Horton’s and then as she grew in her knowledge she decided we needed another place to share, so off to Pakenham and Almonte to share and enjoy the waterfalls.
The trip to Perth was another opportunity to discuss baptism once again.  Two of the questions that came up asked where and when, and I offered some different options including the hot tub at the Women’s Retreat, as we would both be participating.
As I was journaling during the week, the words “Let the Spirit breathe” came to me.  If anyone knows me I am not the most patient person in the world.
At the Women’s Retreat in Lanark, I spoke to the owner Jeannette about baptism as she was filling the Hot Tub and learned it had been used for that purpose before.
During the movie on Saturday evening I felt I should go to the Hot Tub and there were three ladies in it.  The water was not too hot and definitely not too cold. 
I spoke to Pam our co-pastor as she would be doing the baptism as I have had some problems with my arm and shoulder.  After speaking with Gail and sharing the possibility of her baptism, it was decided that it would take place after the retreat was over.
After lunch, many of the ladies stayed to be a part of the baptismal service.  They formed a circle of love around the Hot Tub.  Prayer was offered, the story about Jesus baptism was shared and a solo was sung by Christine.  We then joined in singing “Come to the Water”.  Great joy and love filled the air, as Gail was baptized by Pam Mooney.
I urge everyone to invite someone to church.  You just never know what lies ahead.


Monday, June 11, 2012


In a few days, our community will meet in the first ever Canadian National Conference.  For many years in Canada we have been talking about GBLT issues.  In response to the guidance in Doctrine and Covenants 164, serious, deliberate, planned dialogue on the matter began in 2011 in preparation for the coming conference.  Now we come together to measure our level of consensus on the matter. 

The conference will seek to measure the level of support on two questions. 
  • What is your level of support for a change in policy to allow Priesthood of Community of Christ to perform the sacrament of marriage for same-sex couples in Canada?
  • What is your level of support for a change in policy to allow for the sacrament of ordination of individuals in a same sex marriage in Canada?
From my viewpoint, here is where we are. 

Currently, same-sex  couples in Canada have the right to be married, and have equal rights under Canadian law with heterosexual couples, however Community of Christ Priesthood have never been given the right to perform their weddings.  Question one above asks if we support giving ministers who would like to do so that right.  That is all.

Presently, persons of homosexual orientation can and do serve in Community of Christ priesthood.  I personally know both men and women who serve the church with love and distinction as single, gay or lesbian men and women. These are women and men who are humble, gentle, gracious people who love God and have devoted their lives to serving the church.  People love them and their ministry appears to be very well received.  Were they to marry, however, they would need to resign from priesthood and their ministry.  Question two above asks if we are ready to change that.  In my view, that is all.

In recent days there have been a number of emails, some from people I deeply love and respect, making their way around the airwaves expressing some level of anxiousness.  Some of these have taken an “us and them” tone, which I find disappointing.  This is not about us against them, we against they, conservative against liberal,  rural against urban, young against old, or anyone against anybody.  This is about our community prayerfully and faithfully seeking to discern how to best be the presence of Jesus for our day and time.  We meet together as fellow disciples of the Prince of Peace and God of Love.  No matter whether the conference recommends a change or not, our feelings of love and respect for each other must not change.  We may and do think differently.  We may not all agree in our understanding of what God is doing in the church or in the world, but we must and do agree on the fundamental statement of Jesus about what matters most; to love God and love our neighbour as we love ourselves. 

So lets not have any more “us and them” talk.  There is no us and them.  There is only us.

Posted by Carman 

Friday, June 8, 2012


In just over a week, our community will gather at fifteen different sites for the first ever Canadian National Conference.  Word about this event is spreading, and interest seems to be growing.  I have personally been contacted by church members who are not regular church participants and probably haven’t been to church in years, but who want to be part of the conference.  Interesting!

For those who have contacted me, the questions they ask include the following.
  • My membership is in XX congregation but I now live in YY.  Can I attend the conference there? 
  • Is my baptism enough to have allow me to register?  
In both cases, the answer is a resounding YES!

The interest on the part of members who have been baptized but who have not participated in the community for years has me thinking.  Oh, I’m not speculating about where they are likely to be on conference issues or how they are likely to vote; that is not what concerns me at all.  What I am wondering about is, what are the feelings such persons are likely to experience: nervousness or slight anxiousness?  Fear?  Will anyone remember them?  Will they know anyone there?  Will they be  made to feel uncomfortable or will they feel right at home?

Here is the point: some people are planning to come and participate in our community who have not done so in years!  How shall we welcome them?  Will we ignore them because we don't know who they are?  Will we treat them like some stranger in our midst?  Or will help them feel as welcome as the flowers of spring?  Like the wonderful father demonstrated in Jesus famous parable about the prodigal son, lets be deliberate about choosing the latter.

The following are a few suggestions to help us with this process.  The suggestions are good for any congregation on any day, but especially for National Conference host sites.
  •  Find a half dozen of the most friendly, caring, sensitive, outreaching, non-intrusive people we have, and ask them to be greeters.
  • Put one or two of these precious greeters in the parking lot, and keep them there until 10 or 15 minutes after the conference has begun.  Their job is to communicate welcome, help people know where to park, and answer any questions; that’s all.  Oh, and if its raining, they might also offer an umbrella.
  • Put at least two greeters at the front door.  Their task is to smile, communicate welcome and show people where to go to register.  After people have registered, the greeters can make sure they have the appropriate conference material and help direct them to the meeting room.
  • Put one or two greeters in the meeting room itself.  Their task is to usher, including to smile, communicate welcome, help people find a seat and feel comfortable.

Of course there are other things that can help, like signs showing where washrooms are located, a clean, well staffed and stocked nursery, etc, but perhaps those are subjects for another day.  For now, lets just concentrate on communicating to members who may come, “Welcome home!”

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I have watched with some interest the celebrations of the Queen’s jubilee marking 60 years on the throne of Britain and the Commonwealth.  In the moments I have been able to observe the festivities on television, it has been wonderful to see people celebrating together in the streets and forming immediate community with others who have come to stand in the rain if necessary, watch for a glimpse of her Majesty, and cheer their hearts out.  The fact that CBC has provided hours of uninterrupted coverage of this event has been blessed relief from the usual bad and gloomy news that is the normal diet served up by our news broadcasters. 

Even more gratifying was to listen to the sermon of thanksgiving presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury on Tuesday morning, EDT.  It was lovely to hear him define what it means to be dedicated, and to describe the Queen’s 60 years of service in exactly those terms.  It was lovely.  His quoting of St. Paul, and his description of the Queen's generous service is inspiring, and causes one to look at the depth of our one's dedication, and that to which we are dedicated.  The Archbishop invites us to exactly this kind of reflection as he ends his tribute with the following words.

Dedication to the health and well-being of a community is all this and more. May we be given the grace to rediscover this as we give thanks today for Her Majesty's sixty years of utterly demanding yet deeply joyful service.

You can read the full text of  his remarks here if you wish.  I highly recommend it.

Posted by Carman

Monday, June 4, 2012


On June 2, 2012, the Australia National Conference met to consider a question that is also of interest to the Community of Christ in Canada.  The following statement was released following the conference.
Re-posted By Carman
Australia National Conference Recommends Policy Change
First Presidency and Council of Twelve Will Have to Approve before Implementation
The Australia National Conference was held June 2. After years of study, dialogue, and prayer, church members gathered at the Drummoyne Congregation in Sydney to address one topic: whether ordination should be open to people who are in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships.
After hearing multiple perspectives, including views from international representatives, the Australia National Conference, by more than the required two-thirds majority, made the following recommendation to the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve Apostles:
We support the ordination of individuals who are called by God through the processes established by Community of Christ, who are in long-term, committed, homosexual relationships, i.e. de facto relationships (this is a legally recognized relationship status in Australia for same-sex and opposite-sex couples), and recommend that the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve Apostles proceed to prepare and implement policy allowing these calls to be considered, and, if approved, for ordinations to proceed within the Australia Mission Centre.
The First Presidency and the Council of Twelve will need to approve the policy revision recommended by the Australia National Conference. To develop, approve, and implement interim policies can take up to one year. Any policy change will pertain only to the Australia Mission Centre. Other nations will continue to abide by existing church policies.
The movement of the Holy Spirit affirmed that this recommendation is appropriate for church members in Australia at this time. As a worldwide church, our members strive for unity and understanding in the midst of diverse opinions and feelings as we pursue our mission to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace. 
Community of Christ is an international church with nearly a quarter million members in about 50 nations of the world. There are about 2,900 members in Australia. While we are united around the world in Christ’s mission, because of our broad expanse of cultures some issues must be addressed in national conferences. (See Doctrine and Covenants 164:7.)
Our Enduring Principles guide national conference interactions. These gatherings offer opportunities to experience the Blessings of Community as we explore how to uphold the Worth of All Persons, respond to the understanding that All Are Called, and celebrate Unity in Diversity.

Friday, June 1, 2012

This weekend is Skills and Leadership weekend at Ziontario.  Skills and Leadership is, above all else, a training retreat for everyone who will be on staff for the various reunions and camps planned for this summer at our four campgrounds in Canada East Mission. Directors, Business Managers, counselors, leaders in training, cooks, nurses, camp pastors and others will gather to learn what the Camping Commission has been working on for the past several months, and to improve our level of readiness.

And they have been working.  I do not know all the things the Camping Commission has in store for us, but I know some of it.  How do we keep our campers safe in the event of a natural disaster?  Do our camp ground boards have plans in place?  Do the directors and staff know what those plans are?  Do we know what to do if an intruder (human or animal) comes on the grounds?  Where do we go if there is a tornado?  What should be the camp policy on the use of cameras and smart phones or other electronic devices?  Given both the risks and blessings of social media so instantly accessed from a smart phone these days, how do we keep campers safe without dampening their fun?  And that is just scratching the surface!

But the weekend is intended to be for more than just camp staff.  Perhaps the name says it best, Skills and Leadership.  The weekend is intended to impart skills to anyone who wants to improve their leadership, whether at camp, in a congregation, or wherever you work and serve.  It offers skills training and leadership tools to anyone who comes, for free!  It is the best deal going, and one that is not nearly enough appreciated.

As I sit down to pen these words, long awaited and much needed rain is pelting against my study window.  Oh-oh!  How many people will see the rain and decide not to go?  I check the forecast.  100% chance of rain today (Friday), but only a 40% chance of showers tomorrow (Saturday).  Whew!  Of course the rain is really not a big deal, is it?  After all, Skills and Leadership classes are held inside nice, warm, dry buildings.  Picture yourself hanging out with friends around a nice warm fire burning cheerfully in that lovely, stone fireplace!  Still, humans are humans and some will be tempted to take the easy way out.  If they do, they will miss a great opportunity to learn skills and strengthen their leadership.

How about you; will you be there?  Even if you don't receive this post until Saturday, you can still come.  Rain or shine, I guarantee you will learn something.  What is more, you get to hang out with some great people, eat great food, and have a good time.  Skills and Leadership; what a deal!

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Respect each life journey, even in its brokenness and uncertainty, for each person has walked alone at times.  – Doctrine and Covenants 161:3b

There are times when most of us would prefer to simply be alone.  For some, this is because we are introverted personalities who find the noise of humanity becomes more than we can bear; we need to be alone for a while.  Other people need to be apart in order to seek togetherness with God, as in a period of prayer or meditation.  A “Silent Retreat” has become a regular offering at Ziontario Campgrounds for such people who, while they may not be entirely alone, can escape the noise and tumult of socialization for a day,  two, or even a week.

Another time people may ask to be alone is when they are feeling poorly.  This is not true for everyone.  When under the weather, some people want to be constantly cared for and have their pillows fluffed at regular intervals.  For others, the preference is simply for people to go away and leave them to their misery.

There is a more serious occasion when the desire to be alone manifests itself.  It is not unusual for people who are very very ill to request “no visitors”, or even “no contact.”  Such an appeal can be challenging for friends and fellow congregants, especially those in ministry or on pastoral care teams.  It goes against our training to have people seriously ill and not phone or visit them.  Have we not been taught to express our caring this way?  What should we do?   

Above all, it is important that we honour the person or family’s request.  When someone is so ill that they prefer not to have visitors, we must respect their appeal for privacy.  That does not mean, however, that we must do nothing.  There are many ways we can still express  our caring and loving support. 

The first and most obvious thing we can do is to pray.  No matter what form your prayers may take, whether silent or verbal, in words or pictures, expressed alone or in circles, prayer is always a way to uphold another in love.  Second, almost forgotten by many of us in this age of instant, electronic communication is the old-fashioned art of sending cards.  A card says, “I honour your request but I have not forgotten you.”  Third, even when we cannot call or visit, how about sending a bouquet of flowers or a small plant to communicate our warm thoughts and loving concern?  Might that not be a way to quietly and gently reach out to another while still respecting their request for privacy?

You will probably have thoughts on this subject, and if you do I invite them to click on the comments button and share them with the rest of us.  Many heads may be better than one.  Will you share your wisdom and experience?

Posted by Carman

Monday, May 28, 2012


I go for my morning walk with the countryside cloaked in mist.  I cannot see far ahead, and that is blessing.  The farms are hidden from view except for the fields that border my path.  I cannot see the stop sign though I know it is still there, far at the end of road.  I am left to my quiet reverie and the sound of birds unseen somewhere nearby.  From time to time, the fog is penetrated by the warning lights of vehicles, their drivers headed for work or some early destination.  They give me notice to move out of the way.

Our world is small and is brought ever closer.  The clamour of distress saturates our consciousness; there are so many things to see, hear and do.  The mist narrows our focus, at least for a little while.  Think, walk, pray, not about the whole world and all its problems, not about the long term, but only for today; the immediate here and now.

I am grateful for holy Mist that, for a while at least, shrinks my view of the world.  I cannot fix it all, and it is not mine to carry.  Today let me bear grace and hope to the few whose path intersects with mine.  That is my calling and my choice.  That is blessing if not peace.

Posted by Carman

Friday, May 25, 2012


There is none so blind as those who will not see. – John Heywood, 1546

You were there today, but I did not see you.
I saw your cane, and the dog who is your savior, but I did not see you.
I saw your body, and the look of discerning anxiousness on your face,
The outward signs of the life you live, but I did not see you.

Our paths crossed today, but I did not see you.
I saw a person sitting in your wheelchair and the frown you wore on your face.
From these outward appearances I assumed you were not happy.
I saw your grandson approach you, and then I saw you smile.

We were both on the street today, but I did not see you.
I saw your clothes, your body covered with tattoos,
the piercings you wear like armour to defend you
And allowed them to deflect my gaze away.

I saw your clothes today, your beauty worn like a mask.
The image you project of confidence, calm, and complete control
Protected you just as you wanted it to.
I saw your image today, but I did not see you.

You served me today, but I did not see you.
You checked my seat belt on the plane, you brought me peanuts and something to drink.
Who are you, I wonder: a son, a daughter, a mother?
We passed like planes in the clouds, unseen and unknown.

I arrived home tonight, and still I’ve not seen you.
All day long, like ships in the night, we passed.
My eyes were shrouded in blindness, my heart was kept inside,
And it makes me wonder, will ever I see you?

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me 
– (Lyrics from The Who's rock opera Tommy.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Have you ever had the occasion to step over or walk around someone sitting, lying, or sleeping on the sidewalk in a North American city?  Perhaps the person was panhandling, maybe sitting with a coffee cup asking for change.  How did you react?  If you were in Canada, did you reach in your pocket or purse for a loonie or toonie?  Or did you look the other way and hurry on by?  Did you wonder who these people are and how they got to such a state?  Did you assume they had chosen the street life because “There must have been an alternative for them some where!"  Perhaps you muttered something to yourself or someone else about “Why don’t they just get a job!”

At one time or another over the years, I confess I have done most of those things.  On my better days, I have had enough compassion to suspend the questions or judgment and simply give a little help.  At other times the questions or doubts have won out and I have looked or walked the other way.  Sometimes I have even felt afraid, not because the homeless person was menacing (which seldom happens), but because the situation was strange to me and beyond my comfort zone.  I have personally witnessed homelessness in at least four cities; Toronto, New York, Miami, and even my lovely San Diego, in each case with people literally sleeping on the sidewalk.  I must tell you that, of all of those, Toronto in January felt the most desperate with the mercury plummeting to dangerous levels on bitterly cold winter nights.

In all the times I have encountered homelessness and street begging, one thing I have never done, and probably never even considered, is to take the time to make the acquaintance of the street person and get to know them.  But that is exactly the strategy of Toronto street worker, Tim Huff as described in his 2008 book Bent Hope: A Street Journal published by Castle Quay Books.  Huff invests the hours, days, weeks, and often months it frequently takes before the person is able to trust him enough to let him in. 

The experiences chronicled in this little book provide a brief glimpse into Huff’s daily encounters with the homeless.  The author works with youth, so most of those he introduces us to are young; often in their mid-teens.  It is both enlightening and chilling to learn exactly what their former life was like that made this desperate and dangerous existence preferable.

One might expect stories of homelessness to be depressing.  While it is true that many of the stories do not have a happy ending, the overall impression one receives from reading this little book is one of hope; albeit a hope that is often "bent" just as the title implies.  Yet hope is real, and sometimes Huff’s nights of listening and talking result in new beginnings and lives saved.

I encourage you to find and read this little book, available here from Amazon.  It will warm your heart and bring you hope.  What's more, you will never look at homeless people the same again.

Posted by Carman

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The Corinth ladies hosted their annual Mother and Daughter Banquet on May 9, 2012.  We were hoping to have 30 in attendance, expecting maybe 20, but were happy to welcome over 50!  Ages ranged from 12 - 101 years. Costs were kept low as the meal was a delicious pot luck and our clean-up crew was free: the guys of the congregation.

Dottie Burdette of Wiarton shared ideas on abundant living, expressing that God wishes us to live in a healthy manner.  She shared thoughts on how the Word of Wisdom (Section 86 of the Doctrine and Covenants) encourages us to live wisely and well today.  

Drinking green or white tea we learned, is just like giving your body a dose of vitamins.  We were introduced to the wonder drug garlic; natures penicillin and cancer preventative. Ground flax seed has shown benefits for treatment of cancer, diabetes and liver disease as well as helping to lower cholesterol.  We were advised to eat meat sparingly. Dottie suggested we try using extra virgin coconut oil in cooking as most liquid oils become carcinogenic when heated to a high temperature. She uses it for frying foods and in her smoothies.

Jean Bradley, also from the Wiarton congregation, shared the importance of living green, especially in using environmentally friendly cosmetics and cleaning products.  Jean cautioned us to examine ingredients in our cosmetics as many such as DEA, MEA and TEA are not only harmful to the user but also to the environment and to wildlife. She suggested we go to the green department of our grocery stores to find more environmentally friendly products.

These were topics that we all can use to make a difference in our health and that of the planet.
We also learned that with vibrant speakers sharing on current topics and being invitational as a congregation, people come!

Kim Veldhuizen

Monday, May 7, 2012


Since attending St. Thomas congregation’s 135th Anniversary celebrations this past weekend, I have been reflecting, not for the first time, on our legacy.  A legacy, simply put, is that which is handed down from previous generations.

On Saturday evening of the St. Thomas weekend, time was spent recounting stories from the congregation’s founding period, or more accurately, “periods” since there were more than one.  Names were recalled that are famous to those familiar with Community of Christ history in this part of the world, including Daniel MacGregor, J. J. Cornish, and R. C, Evans among others.  Meetings began in a house with just a few people.  Later, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows hall was rented and used for preaching until it could no longer hold the crowds.  Then the first church building was constructed.

During the weekend, historic figures from the past were recalled, including those who sacrificed and took extraordinary risks so the church could be established.  The story was told of a man who allowed the use of his house so missionaries could hold church gatherings.  This generosity was met with threatening letters, undoubtedly from a  religious person or persons in the community warning him not to do this, asserting that his house and furnishings would be put at extreme risk of being destroyed by mob action.  The letter also held out the prospect of the man being tarred and feathered.  The missionary offered to cancel services, but the man courageously insisted on going ahead, and nothing appears to have come of the threats.  The church in St. Thomas exists today, in part because of the legacy of such brave persons.

A few generations later in 1970, there was a need to build a bigger church, and a new generation of heroes stepped forward.  This group gave the money to buy a nice lot, and then worked evening after evening, Saturday after Saturday, to build the new church.  These were members who worked at their day jobs, then went to the site to work on building the church until it was dark.  The lovely building we see today on Fairway Avenue was built by the sweat and sacrifice of those members, many of whom are still alive and were present at the Anniversary.  They are elderly now; walking with canes often held in arthritic hands, but they pass to those who are younger, a legacy of honour and love.  Of course they did more than build a church; that is just one of their accomplishments.  They also served their community with equal dedication.  I find them greatly to be admired.

This is just a sample of the great legacy that has been bequeathed to us; a history of love and generous sacrifice.  I find it both moving and remarkable.  It makes me wonder, what will our generation pass down to those who follow after?  How will they look back at us?  Will they see lives invested in the future?  If our stories of faith are considered worthy to be recounted, will  our successors listen with equal wonder and admiration?  I do not know the answer.

I can only speak personally here, but I have invested my life in this cause because of the legacy provided by generations of heroes who have gone before us.  The breadth of their sacrifice and the fervency of their testimony are powerful.  Now I look for those who will follow after us, and seek to instill in them a desire to love God and bless God’s people with equal diligence. 

May our legacy be worthy of the honour bequeathed to us.

Posted by Carman