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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Casa (house)

I spent the past two weeks in Honduras having my first experience on a World Accord build. World Accord building projects are having a positive impact on life in rural Honduras, especially the school builds. Life is improving there, although many people still live in real poverty. Our project was to provide additional space to an existing technical school in the village of Horcancitos. This is excellent because teaching students how to do electrical and other work in the trades gives them skills with which to earn a good living. Education is clearly the key to the future.

On the first day of this adventure, we took a trip, riding in the back of Al Wigood’s pickup truck, up through the beautiful mountain country near La Buena Fe.

It was in one of the small villages there that I met Reyna, a woman whose situation touched me deeply. Reyna stood on her one leg and crutches, shook my hand, looked me directly in the eye and spoke to me in Spanish. My limited Spanish did not allow me to understand many of her words, but the passion and gratitude she was expressing for the work of World Accord was unmistakable. She then invited us to visit her in her casa (home).

Reyna lives with her husband Pablo in their mud and stick house up on a hill on the side of the mountain. It is accessed up a rough, stony path, which Reyna navigates easily on her crutches. Pablo earns a subsistence living working in the coffee fields. Al tells me that Pablo is crippled up with arthritis which means they both have physical barriers they cheerfully overcome.

Reyna’s house is one of the poorest I have ever seen. She did not seem to be the least bit self-conscious or embarrassed about that, but warmly welcomed us in for a visit. Clearly her attitude was, “Me casa es tu casa”, My home is your home.

The exterior walls are leaning and falling apart, making the house look like it could fall down at any minute, which is probably true. The interior walls consist of a plastic tarp, suspended from the roof to provide rooms. There is a dirt floor and no chimney, which means the smoke from the cooking fire fills the house and eventually finds its way out under the eaves of the tin roof, which it has no trouble doing.

As the days progressed, I could not help thinking of Reyna’s house. I talked with Al and we both agreed that, clearly, something needs to be done. Al and Freddie, our foreman on the build, said they would build her a new home, starting as early as February. I said I would try to raise the money.

If this story has touched your heart at all, you are invited to help. The cost of building a new, cement block home for Reyna and Pablo is approximately $2,000 Canadian. Its not a huge sum, and we can do this. If you would like to assist, please send your cheque, payable to World Accord and mail it to:

World Accord
1C-185 Frobisher Dr.
Waterloo, Ontario
Canada N2V 2E6.

Mark you donation for the “Families for Families” program. All donations are tax deductible, and receipts will be issued at the appropriate time. Thank you for even being willing to consider this request.

Together we can help abolish poverty and end suffering for this gracious lady and gentleman.

Posted by Carman

Friday, January 27, 2012

Toolbox, continued

#3/ Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church
Author: Kenda Creasy Dean.
ISBN-10: 0-8028-4712-9
ISBN -13: 978-0-8028-4712-6

When I picked this book up I figured it was a “How To” guide for youth and young adult ministry. I was mistaken.

Ms Dean is an Associate Professor of Youth, church at the Tennent School of Christian Education at Princeton Theological Seminary and this book is more of a scholarly work about “passion” and “youth and young adult” type ministries but it is from a more “fundamental” point of view and does not easily adapt to current Community of Christ Theology.

I enjoyed reading this book (though, unlike the two before this and the one that follows) it is not an easy read but tends to be fairly heavy. I feel I picked up a good deal of information and knowledge that I did not have before but would not suggest this book if you were looking for a quick and easy “how to” when it comes to youth and young adult ministries. I do feel it would be beneficial for people who are involved in those ministries to provide them with knowledge and a good background base for these ministries.

My rating:
As a How to for getting your ministry going: 2 out of 5.
As a resource for background and knowledge: 3.5 - 4 out of 5. (It takes a fair bit of stretching to make it Community of Christ friendly).

Now, I know Marion Smith has suggested the following book to many people but I would like to add it to my own, “Must Read” list and would highly recommend it!

#4/ The Disciple Making Church: From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality
Author: Glenn McDonald.
ISBN 978-1-932902-67-9

Wow! This book is a “Must Have” for every “Toolbox for Mission”.

The book is in two parts.
Part 1 is an excellent and easy read and takes you a Journey through “Disciple Making Relationships. Part 1 would make an excellent workshop, with a little adaptation and fits well with current Community of Christ Theology.

Part 2 is very good, though with theology of a bit more fundamental nature, but it is still well worth reading and can be adapted to be a good fit with current Community of Christ Theology.

This book is an excellent resource for the switch from a “strategy of programs” to a “strategy of relationships” and will help you to see just how Disciple-making is a one -to- one activity that transforms groups. The book was easy to read and really makes sense in the Community of Christ setting and is a wonderful book for anyone who would like to live in a more “sacramental manner”.

Look for this book on the “book tables” at future CEM events. Consider it a must read for priesthood and leadership throughout the mission centre. I will be certain to ask you, “who is your Barnabas” and “who is your Timothy” (along with a couple of other questions that you will discover as you read the book)!

My rating: 4.9 out of 5.

Stay tuned for other exciting books that you can make a part of your “Toolbox for Mission”!

Poster John Nichols

Thursday, January 26, 2012


This posting is from John Nichols. John wears many hats, one of them being that of a reliable source of book information. John's on the lookout for resources you can use. He'll offer his rating and whatever initial thoughts he has about how to get the most out of the books he's suggesting.

"Toolbox for Mission"

Hi folks! I have been seeking out books with lots of interesting ideas to help all of us gear up for Mission! Looking specifically for some “how to” guides for helping us “Develop Disciples to Serve.”

I’ve just completed four different books that could help with that Mission Initiative.

I do have to say, prior to starting the reviews, that buying books is great! Reading books is wonderful! Applying what you learn from the books is essential! And, without further ado, here are some of the books that I am currently recommending!

#1/ Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry; Creative Plans and Programs that Really Work!
Author, Diana Davis. ISBN978-0-8054-4723-1

My wife pointed me to this book as a potential good resource, likely also very saleable on a Reunion Book Table. Cringing a little, I plunged into it anyway. My verdict: This resource would be valuable for men AND women alike.

Written for other “mainline” churches, its ideas are easily adaptable to a Community of Christ context. Ms Davis takes you on a step by step process for developing a Women’s Ministry and would be an excellent resource for congregations, camps, retreats.

AND, guys, with a few adaptations and different ideas it could easily be used for “Men’s Retreats” or a Men’s Group, as well. If you are looking at developing ministries of these kinds, I would heartily suggest you pick up this book!

#2/How To Mobilize Church Volunteers

Author: Marlene Wilson. ISBN 978-0-8066-2012-1

This book was, again, written more for the “mainline protestant group” but with a few slight adaptations it is really good for the Community of Christ! Ms Wilson takes you on a step by step journey from assessing the needs, recruiting the volunteers, building the congregational team, training the volunteers, all the way to nurturing and managing the volunteers. Do you need to build a team for specific things in your congregation? How about for your Reunion, camp or retreat? This step by step guide is really useful!

This resource could be easily adapted into a workshop and for helping to prevent “burn out.”
My rating: 4.75 out of 5.

More tomorrow.

Posted by John Nichols

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


There is much conversation about the need to manage one's time, avoid inevitable distractions by electronic devices, even to the point of purchasing apps that will force "down" or "disconnected" time.

I thought it appropriate that the first book I'm reading on my new kindle deals with just this issue. Found on the blog of a writer who's in process of producing a book about Sabbath, you can read the review here if you're interested.

Perhaps I'll give you my opinion later when I've finished the book. I'm taking it slow.

One issue I'm pondering just now. The writer speaks of our obsession with "work/life balance" and asks us to consider how this perspective may even be negative. If "work" is not an inherent part of "life" then it is no wonder we feel stretched and pressured. We need to acknowledge that a big part of our life is our work. How can we be intentional in ensuring that work part of living is also valuable and valued? As long as we keep "work" and "life" on opposite sides of the equation, we have limited ourselves. Still pondering...

(Oh, and by the way, this text would also work well for that second adult class you're considering.)

Posted by Marion

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


In 2010, the Lowbanks congregation stepped up its Christmas charity efforts by adopting a family in need. The family consisted of a single father and three children.

So generous were the donations, this year they decided to adopt two families. While everyone enthusiastically agreed to this suggestion, it was an ambitious undertaking. Lowbanks is a relatively small congregation. They would need to provide grocery vouchers worth $275 as well as gifts for three parents and six children. Adding to the challenge was the short time frame from when the family information was provided and when the gifts had to be delivered (less than two weeks).

As soon as the details was provided to the congregation, Billy said "We'll take care of the $150 grocery voucher for Family #1". Immediately Marg and Becky responded "We'll take care of the other one". Eunice said "I'll take care of the 5 year old boy in Family 1". From there it snowballed until every need was met and more ... much more.

The response was overwhelming. The Thank You cards from the families speak of a Christmas they will never forget.

Here is a congregation in mission. For a brief time, two families were relieved from their poverty and suffering during the holy season of Christmas.

from Marilyn Graham, Mission Advocate

Monday, January 23, 2012

An Idea

Here's my idea. I know some of you have very successful "adult classes" while others have relinquished them in favour of an extended coffee hour. My idea is that you institute a second class. Yes, I know, some will say "It's enough of a challenge to keep one group going" or perhaps "But we like our class; don't fix what isn't broken." Either way, please hear me out.

My guess is that not all twenty-five of you needs to be in that group. Some of you would really, really like to dig a little deeper, or explore some other topic (social justice or local activist cause) or perhaps work to develop a new skill (along the line of "equip disciples for ministry"). So what if there are only three or four of you? Pick a subject, or a book, or someone you know who has some expertise. Locate a spot--the choir loft, or the library or even the furnace room, if all the more conventional places are being used--and just begin!

Here are three suggestions. I'm beginning with books that I already know and that would meet some of the above criteria. You can be a self-led group with any of these texts, let the author be your guide. Good luck!

#1 The Disciple-Making Church, by Glenn McDonald. There's already a little review of this text on the Disciple Formation page on CEM's web page. It offers some practical things to try for those who'd like to be "better" disciples.

#2 From Pew to Pulpit, by Clifton Guthrie is also reviewed there. This is a great little text (just over 100 pages) for people, ordained or not, who may want to learn how to be better pulpit speakers. Our denomination uses the skills of all who have something to say. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they learned how to do the best job possible? Are there three or four in your congregation who might like to try it?

#3 Attentive to God, by Charles Wood and Ellen Blue. This book's sub-title invites us to "think theologically" and it is a text for those who've wondered about that. It walks the reader through the basics (very understandable) and then suggests some real-life congregational and community situations and helps us consider how our theology would have us address them. Issues like what to do about the food bank, or how to make expensive medical decisions or what to think about ghosts and vampires. You could have some great conversations with this book.

There you go. My idea. Let me know if anyone takes me up on it.

Posted by Marion

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Recommended (next)

This one is for those who will be preaching this year. The Gospel for Year B (2012) is Mark. For some good background reading on the second gospel you might like to go here . While you're there, by all means look around.

This is the Working Preacher website that always offers some interesting insight into the lectionary scriptures for the week.

Our CPI pastors will be especially interested in the January 15 essay. Ask any one of them the special significance of the fig tree.

I realize there are many links in this particular post, but all of them will bring you to this excellent resource for you "working preachers" reading What's the Good Word today.

Posted by Marion

Monday, January 16, 2012


Good day folks, Marion here. (Thanks for all you good wishes as I've been transitioning into retirement. As expected, it's great!)

I know you'll be missing The Good Word for awhile so I want to offer a couple of things I think you might appreciate.

For pastors, worship planners, Christian education folk in congregations with children, here is a great web site for you. It follows the Lectionary, as does our own Worship Helps so you'll find it easy to locate the Sunday you want.

I know you will find excellent ideas, and as always, there are things intended for children that will make their greatest impression on your adult worshipers. Here's the link for Worshiping With Children. I hope you'll find it useful.

Posted by Marion

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review

Diana Butler Bass, The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church (The Alban Institute, 2004)

For the last nearly fifty years we have been hearing a regular stream of reports concerning the death of Mainline Protestant churches. Conventional wisdom seems to suggest that many are in decline or closing while others are embroiled in controversy of one kind or another. Congregational attendance is down, finances are declining, and congregants are getting older. It all paints a discouraging picture. There is some truth to these reports, of course, but there are also other trends which seldom get reported in the popular press.

Diana Butler Bass, in this very readable book, begins to chronicle churches that do not follow this pattern. She opens with the story of Church of the Epiphany, an Episcopal congregation three blocks from the White House in downtown Washington, D.C. This storied old church has seen a lot of history come and go, from the antebellum period to the present, however by its 150th Anniversary in 1992, it had fallen on hard times. Not many people remained in attendance, the old building was decaying, the endowment that paid the bills was dwindling, and there was talk of closure.

Yet 10 years later, by its 160th Anniversary, Epiphany bustled with new vitality. The congregation no longer attracts Washington’s political elite, rather…
“a congregation of incredible diversity with multiple races, ethnicities, classes, generations, and sexual orientation now inhabits its pews. The bills are paid through surprisingly generous congregational stewardship (the typical pledge at Epiphany is nearly twice the national average). They sing their songs to God guide by Taizé music, gospel songs and spirituals, Bach cantatas, Native American and African chants, and Anglican hymns.” (P.8)
It sounds just like a church I would enjoy.

An accomplished historian and researcher, Bass brings to light many of the reasons why Christian churches are in such transition, and seems to suggest that, in part at least, it is because we have lost our way. When Christianity was dominant and practicing religion was expected, churches could get by quite nicely because they were in the political and economic driver’s seat. Now, however, that has all changed and we need to rediscover the practices to which Christ has called us. In that sense, the book is reminiscent of Steve Veazey’s 2011 call for the Community of Christ to embrace the five Mission Initiatives.

The good news is there is hope; decline and closure does not have to be the inevitable end for congregations. Bass points to research that makes a connection between personal spiritual practices and congregational vitality. She quotes David Roozen, a researcher who states,
“The study does confirm that the more emphasis a congregation gives to the values of home and personal religious practices the higher the congregation’s vitality and the more likely it is to be growing in membership.” (P.67)

While Bass’s book does not promise easy transitions to church health and growth, it does offer hope. The Practicing Congregation should be required reading for anyone searching out the path to congregational renewal.

Posted by Carman

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spirit of Giving

Windsor Congregation: our numbers are large on the books, but small in the pews, yet this group is mighty when called upon to give.

Each year during the four Sundays of Advent we have chosen a charity to support financially - World Accord, Sleeping Children, Hospice, World Vision.

This year, keeping in mind the Mission Initiative, "Abolish Poverty and End Suffering" we chose Hiatus House, a refuge for battered women and their children.

At Christmas the 42-bed house was full and many were on a waiting list.
In a spirit of over-whelming generosity, our members donated $1022.18, a substantial increase over past Christmas giving.

Even the couple who clean our church building asked if they could give to our Mission this year.That request reminded me that we are always witnessing whether intentionally or not.

As Windsor continues to explore the implications of the five Mission Initiatives, I hope we will discover many ways to witness and be a presence in our Community as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Twyla Glassford
Pastor, Windsor Congregation,
Mission Advocate

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Effective January 1, 2012, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires that all organizations with public spaces, including churches, have policies in place as to how they will offer support to persons with disabilities. On December 9, 2011 Bishop Mike Hewitt, MCFO for Canada East, sent information to all pastors and CFOs concerning the new law and how its requirements should be implemented.

The new law does not yet require congregations to modify their buildings to make them more accessible for persons with disabilities, although it makes it clear that mandate will come in time. What is required now is that we have policies in place as to how we will offer support to persons who are differently-abled, and that all staff including volunteers have been trained on the policies.

Here is one example. Persons who come to church with a guide animal must be admitted along with the animal. Where the animal is prohibited because of health requirements (e.g. a kitchen where food is being prepared), alternate provision must be made to allow access for the disabled person.

Once the policy is in place, every person who is ever likely to deal with such a situation must have training on the policy in place. The need for the training should be obvious since it clearly would not make sense to have a policy written down and then have greeters at the door saying, “Oh, you can’t bring that dog in here!”

Of course the law is not just about guide animals but includes all disabilities, such as sight, hearing, mobility, and mental or psychological handicaps. The impact of the new law is that congregations must think about the needs of a disabled person in advance, and have policies in place as to how they will assist.

Meeting the requirements of the law is one thing, but kindness and a thoughtful approach may take us far beyond legal mandates. There are probably many people who would love to participate in church, but the physical of psychological barriers make it too difficult to do so. This includes many seniors as their strength and physical abilities decline. A congregation that is sensitive to the needs of the disabled and trained in how to make their participation more enjoyable may go far beyond the requirements of the law, breaking down barriers that the law cannot anticipate.

A recent blog from the Alban Institute entitled There Are No Barriers to God's Love has some very worthwhile reflections on this issue. You can find that article by clicking here. I recommend it for your thoughtful reading.

Posted by Carman

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

I thought that news on the 2012 Canadian National Video/Conference would make for a great segue as we enter 2012. I cannot believe that this is 2012! I can believe that time passes quickly, so be prepared:

• The conference will be conducted through live video;
• It will be broadcast from 15 different Canadian “Host Sites”;
• This is a member conference, (meaning that all will be able to participate);
• Recommendation(s) from conference will be influential in changes or non-changes;
• The Mission Initiatives are supported by the conference Team, including: a) collection of 2012 lbs (912.6 kg) of food and/or clothing towards “Abolishing Poverty and End Suffering” and b) Peace Awards acknowledging those who “Pursue Peace on Earth”;
• This is a first for Canada, be part of a historical event;
• Polling will be done by casting ballots;
• This is a one day event;
• World Church has created a conference logo for Canada;
• Is your congregation a host site? Where do you go to join the conference?
• Please respond graciously by lending a hand on conference day and/or by donating to help off-set cost of holding the conference;
• Take note on the required equipment. Maybe your congregation just needs to add a couple of missing pieces to take advantage of World Church broadcasts or hooking up live with another congregation;
• Understand the conference questions, take advantage of the dialogue sessions;
• Discern, pray, share, listen and participate. Get in on the conversation;
• View the timely release of the video teasers by Apostle Susan Skoor on the web site;
• Familiarize yourself with the 5 Mission Initiatives;
• Attend a conference video trial from your host site, interesting stuff;
• There will be 3 timed components of the conference. Such as:
-A pre-linked portion > a time of gathering, worship, orientation, celebration and offering including the singing of our National Anthem.
-Linked portion > the time in which all Canadian members are linked by technology through video/audio and engaged in conference business.
-The post-linked portion of conference. A time for reflection, thanking God for this opportunity and feeling good about the day’s activities and process no matter what the outcome.
• Find more conference information on the Canadian website.
• An estimated 700 plus member participants from all of Canada.
• Remember, the conference date is Saturday, June 16th 2012 beginning at 12:00 noon EST.

This is your formal invitation to our first Canadian National Conference. You have 168 days from January 1st to prepare for conference.

May God add his blessing in all that you do in 2012. Aim high, set some goals and all your achievements will be well worth the effort.

…Get in on the conversation…see you at conference.

Tim J. Stanlick