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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?"

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Every second Friday Night, from congregations around the Mission Centre (well at least those within a reasonable drive of London) parents pack up their Junior and Senior High aged youth and travel to our Woodfield Congregation .

I mean, there is no getting out of going to Woodfield on those Friday evenings! The facebook group has been chatting, the text messages have been flying from smart phone to smart phone, emails have been sent and every, absolutely every Jr and Sr High aged youth knows that this event is happening. These youth are also inviting their “non Community of Christ” friends and relatives to come along! These are exciting times for our youth (and for parents who sneak off to Costco too!)!

Brian Jackson, Michelle and Dariq, who make up this small, yet vital, group of enthusiastic volunteers, shepherd this rag tag group and make sure that everyone has an opportunity to participate as they would like. Top off the evening with a nice lunch and fellowship time and the youth head back home with their parents.

The Woodfield Congregation, and this group of stalwart volunteers, are providing a way to inject real “Community” into “Community of Christ”. They are also providing opportunity for meeting the Mission Initiatives, “Invite People to Christ” and “Develop Disciples to Serve!

These Friday nights have not only been beneficial to our current Jr and Sr High camping community but has drawn in the, er, well, “more seasoned” camping community as well. Remember those parents I just mentioned who are “doing dinner” or “sneaking off to Costco? Well most, if not all of these folks are graduates of the “Camping Community of Yore”! This evening of volleyball has become a time when generations of people, not only the youth, but also many adults, are connecting, reconnecting and working on those friendships and fraternal relationships that our camping community seems to so readily create.

I have also known of an administration or two to take place in the Costco parking lot! Real, life changing, tires hitting the pavement, ministry is happening, but don’t tell the youth!

The young participants are there and having a blast! Some of the young adults help out in the kitchen, getting the snacks together and working to make sure that things keep running along. Everyone, and that means everyone from every extended generation, is building community IN Christ while doing things they enjoy. So next time you see the youth buzzing over their phones at church, get ready to head on over to London!

Hey! Send me a text! While Brian and his team are working to establish and build on those vitally important relationships, maybe we can “do dinner”!

(Here's the facebook page with all the details you need.)

Poster is John Nichols

Monday, February 27, 2012

Transformation On-Line Bible Study

How can congregational leaders provide for effective spiritual formation for their members and friends? The question becomes more challenging when the target participants for the formational activities are young adult professionals, some of whom may get up at 5:00 a.m., leave for work by 6:00 and not get home again until 7:00 p.m.

It is well known that spiritual formation is critical for our personal growth as well as for congregational health. Humans need to be constantly deepening their relationship with God. It would be easy to simply say that we are each responsible for our own spiritual formation, but how can the congregation form community and grow together in this activity? In years past, the answer might have been to hold a mid-week prayer service, but that no longer seems to work in a world where people arrive home tired and late after a 1 ½ hour commute, then have to make supper and do all their other tasks before retiring to bed. What to do? The problem itself calls for prayerful discernment.

This was the puzzle facing Matthew Swain and the leaders of Barrie Community of Christ. A creative solution began to form as Matthew participated in various CEM facilitated on-line meetings via teleconference and Webex; an on-line meeting environment that allows participants to see and hear each other, share documents, etc. Could these same tools be used in a congregational community? Could young adults dealing with the pressures of the modern world come together on-line in a helpful and meaningful way? The answer is yes, and Transformation On-line Bible Study was born. The group now meets regularly on-line to study the lectionary scripture of the week.

If you would like to know more about Transformation On-line Bible Study you can find more information on Barrie’s Facebook page by clicking here.

How does your congregation build spiritual community and foster the spiritual growth of its members? Is this an idea you can also use?

Posted by Carman

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Last Sunday evening, an eclectic group of people gathered at the TLC Bistro and Café, 41 Maple Ave. in downtown Barrie. The Café was open for business. When we entered, one large table was celebrating someone’s birthday, while others came to have a quiet meal. After a time, Larry, the proprietor, went to the stage area, took up his guitar and sang a couple of his favorite Neil Young songs. Meanwhile people continued to gather.

After a time, Pastor Matthew Swain took the microphone and welcomed everyone, announcing that it was time for “Steam” to begin. Over the next two hours, many people shared their talents and passion for God in celebration that I could only describe as worship. Several musicians had come prepared to play their own original music; some on guitar, one young lady on the keyboard, then a man using guitar and a harmonica. Two people shared a scripture and lead a discussion about it. Others shared a prayer, and a couple of people bore testimony of powerful experiences with the Divine.

Of the twenty plus people who stayed for the evening, about 1/3 were members of Community of Christ, the sponsoring church. The rest were welcome guests including this time, all of the musicians. That mix is not what the church is used to in Canada, but then again, neither is Steam.

As the evening progressed, I was struck by the fact that the one thing that everyone had in common, the thing that bound us together for this one evening, was the love each one had for God. It came out especially in the music as the singers poured their devotion into their songs. It was evident in the testimonies and prayers. There was no division. It was remarkable, and I thought of Jesus saying In Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

At one point, I gave voice to some musing that had rolled across my mind; “I wonder if Jesus ever spent an evening like this in a café with a group of musicians and disciples,” to which someone replied, “I think he probably did.” It would be just like him, wouldn't it?

One thing I know for certain is that the presence of the Holy Spirit was with us this Sunday night, sharing in the theme and Spirit of Love. As Larry would affirm at the end of the evening, “This was good tonight. Every song, every thing, meant something.” It was the perfect summary of an evening of tender loving care at the TLC café.

Posted by Carman

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Ideas

Here are some more thoughts building on the “second adult class” idea that Marion was speaking about in "An Idea":

It is really neat when we can get a group of people together to have a look at something new, have a look at doing things differently or just getting together! Building community can be a lot of work!

I just finished a couple of different books that might provide a great focus for that “second adult class” or smallish group activity!

“Reinventing Sunday - Breakthrough ideas for transforming worship”(ISBN 978-08170-1414-8)
would be a really good book for a group to get together and start going over. The book is written by Brad Berglund, who I believe is an Episcopal Priest, so the book comes from a bit more of a “liturgical type perspective”, but I found myself wondering, as I went through the book, and then went through it again, “Gee, just how could we adapt this thought to a Community of Christ type approach."

Even if the worship at your congregation is top notch and “couldn’t be improved” it never hurts to keep looking at things to see if you can keep worship “fresh” and “relevant”! Give this book at try!

Another good book, especially for this time of year as we're considering Lent, for a group study, might be “The Last Week - what the gospels really teach about Jesus’s final days in Jerusalem.” (ISBN 978-0-06-087260-1 .) This one is also available in audio as shown below.

Please note, this book may not be for everyone but it is an excellent look at the gospel account from Mark (we are in liturgical year B). This book takes a day by day look at Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem and provides background information and a perspective that you may not have encountered before.

These are a couple of books I have recently finished! Hey, with the three suggested by Marion, that will give you at least five to pick from if you decide to take up the challenge!

Poster is John Nichols