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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 27, 2013

Developing Yourself, to Help Develop Others

Editor's note:  In this posting, we are pleased to feature our new Young Adult Leader, 
Emily Whitworth, with her first contribution to What's the Good Word.  We welcome Emily and trust this will be the "first of many."

As a young adult with a new leadership role in the Church, I question myself often. Am I doing what I have been called to do? Are people satisfied with the work I am doing? Did I say the right thing to the teenager that came to me for advice?

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend The Spiritual Formation Retreat at Kirtland Temple in Ohio. I left with an overwhelming feeling and find it difficult in truly expressing what a powerful and uplifting  experience it was. At this retreat many of the questions I had been struggling with were answered. The support and knowledge that I gained from the many new friends I made that week was far greater than anything I had expected. One daily exercise we did during the week was Group Spiritual Direction and I quickly developed a strong bond with the three other members of my group. 

I left the retreat with many new skills, friends, and answered prayers.  I hope that others will have the opportunity to a similar experience at one of our many upcoming retreats and camps. I thank all those who make retreats like this possible.  

 I look to the future of this Church with so much excitement!

Emily Whitworth
Young Adult Leader

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


The recent staff spiritual retreat was an amazingly healing experience. Being both a young man and a fairly new employee to Community of Christ, my spiritual health is questionable at its best. For the first two years working on my current assignment as a church planter, I’ve pushed myself both physically and mentally, but always seem to neglect my spiritual development. I rationalize that I was doing spiritual stuff while performing other duties or that that was something I could put off for a future date.

I was not nearly prepared, however, for suffering a miscarriage with my wife because I had so neglected my spiritual side. Three month after our lost, both Irina and I were still suffering even though we had healed physically and come to terms with it mentally. During the five days engaged in individual and communal spiritual practices, we were able to begin to regain a fuller sense of God’s peace.

Beyond my spiritual healing, I was surprised by my realizations that the solution to an enormous problem I was having concerning my work responsibilities could be miraculously found by deepening my spiritual practices. Prior to the retreat, it seemed to me that I was at my maximum capacity concerning the amount of people I was able to include in my ministry. I was searching for any way to stretch that capacity, but was not able to see how it was possible. By the last day, I understood that I would be able to effectively minister to more people if I paid more attention to minister myself through my personal spiritual practices. In a sense, I could see that my ministry could be stretched further outwards by stretching further inwards.

Moreover, because my wife was able to attend, we were able to grow a little bit more together, heal more fully as a couple, and learn how take time to breath together as one which I am certain is something that will keep benefiting our marriage way into the future. Irina and I are sincerely grateful that such an opportunity was available to us.

Matt Swain

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Awe Inspiring

I personally have reconnected with Community of Christ after 15 yrs of looking from the outside in so to speak. I was fully familiar with the church identity, theology, beliefs, programs, education directions and leadership in that past era. Upon re-engaging with the Community of Christ last year and absorbing myself in our church of today, I was and am continually awed by the journey and transitions, some of which parallel the forward thinking of other denominations and some which are completely unique and portray a distinctive character of identity, vision, community and mission. When I paused my participation in our church for a time, our beliefs were predominantly theologically “works based.”  I returned to a church that is “grace filled”.

The development of church changing, life changing themes not even present 15 yrs ago, such as the church name, sacred community, generosity, disciple formation, enduring principles, capacity, unity in diversity, faithful disagreement, mission initiatives, a relatable mission statement, dwelling in the word, shalom and transparency, reflect a listening leadership with a vast capacity for envisioning. We are a church that is “becoming;” that is answering the call to be a prophetic people.  The journey ahead is informed by our heritage but we are freed to dwell upon and prayerfully interpret prophetic counsel as a sacred community, to envision together and participate in Christ’s mission.

We each have at the click of a mouse access to the incredible wealth of resources available on the church website which is a vast search engine of anything and everything to inform you about our church and faith. As with Google, in the upper right of every page on our website are the words, “SEARCH THIS SITE” where you can enter any subject and numerous pages will emerge. One I would invite you begin with, is our inspirational church information booklet, “We Share.” This resource outlines our identity, mission, beliefs, message and vision to the world. I have linked it for you below. Please, please, (did I say please enough?) I request of you, read this through and “dwell” or as the Book of Mormon would say, “ponder” upon the words that describe who you are, what your identity is, as a member or friend of Community of Christ.

If you have not been in a church school class since your youth, if you have not attended a reunion recently, if you have not read the Herald even though it comes to your door each month, then you do not know the church you are attending and it is undoubtedly confusing for you. There is power in the words and principles of this “We Share” booklet to change your life. Is the subject of the church the “elephant in the room” with your family?  Are there family or friends who do not attend simply because you do not know what our enduring principles are and any discussion about church would intimidate you?

I found my that my kids, my grandchildren, my spouse, my friends are most worthy for me/you to know and share what I have found to be an “awe-inspiring” renewed church. Our openness, our transparency, our mission realignment with what matters most to compassionate people in today’s world are themes that are relevant to today’s questioning generations. I am asking you to respond to the call, to be part of the answer, by reading and pondering upon “who you are” in Community of Christ!

Kerry Richards

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


A meditation on the Words of Counsel given to Community of Christ at the 2013 World Conference

What does it mean to be one? 
How can we/I be part of the divine oneness? 
In a sense we are already, part of the sacred community that is God,
and yet we do not recognize our oneness.
Or said differently, perhaps we do not really believe we are one in God.

We can only be one in the spirit of love, grace and generosity,
but we look at each other guardedly through eyes of division, suspicion, and even hatred.
We who claim the name of Jesus are not exempt from this.
At times we recognize we are all part of the divine family,
but at other times we see our human sisters and brothers as “other”, “them”, or even “you!”

Ideas, beliefs, and lack of knowing keep us apart.
We give ourselves names that separate us: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jew,
even Community of Christ.
We try to love and accept our small community,
 but even here we often fail, 
falling victim to divisions of belief and ideology.

How can we be one?
Oneness  begins with God,
being one in God
and one with God.

Let my spirit accept the counsel of the Apostle Paul:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ,
any consolation from love,
any sharing in the Spirit,
any compassion and sympathy,
make my joy complete:
be of the same mind,
having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who,though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death-
even death on the cross.
(Philippians 2:1-8)

Let this mind be in you
and in me.

Carman Thompson

Monday, June 17, 2013

Providence Principles

Editor's NoteWe are very pleased to welcome Kerry Richards as a regular contributor to What's the Good Word.  I believe you will enjoy his thoughtful posts and trust you will find value in his writing.  

We all recognize and experience how busy life is and that it has a way of filling in our moments whether by choice or default. Each day, our unstructured time outside of our work, school and required tasks, like the flow of water, tends to take the course of least resistance unless directed action is taken to guide its meandering nature. We all have choices to make each day, some small and some significant. As persons of faith there is an innate desire within us to live ethically, morally, compassionately, healthily, lovingly, competently, successfully and happily amongst family and friends. We aspire to be the best that we can be. 

The reality is days, months, perhaps years pass us by in our busyness and we so often come to the realization that our yearnings within to become who we envisioned are not being fulfilled. In occasional quiet moments apart from TV, radio, sports, internet and music, our soul surfaces and intersects with our heart and mind. There is a moment of truth unveiled. The personal and intimate inner dialogue of that moment can be intensely revealing or pushed away ……… I can’t deal with this now…….perhaps another day. 

I am a person who has encountered grace personally, where intersection with the Divine in successive moments altered the course of my life. Now I strive to live daily by what I call “Providence Principles” that I have placed visibly on my desk; to make my time each day intentional, trying to halt the meandering, envisioning a better way and being a more responsive person. Perhaps you can identify with my journey and see value in applying these principles in your life. God bless. 

Providence Principles
God guides us and goes before us……We align ourselves with God’s leadings through Providence Principles

                Providence                                            The Norm
  1.  If I don’t pray daily………                    I won’t become prayerful
  2.  Daily prayer is proactive ………          On-demand prayer is reactive
  3.  Covenant Life……..                              Neutral Life
  4.  Mission Focused…….                           Routine Indifference
  5.  Empowering Identity…….                    Directionless
  6.  Participant……..                                    Spectator
  7. Glass ½ Full …….                                 Glass ½ Empty
  8.  Sacred Community…….                       A Social Group
  9. Meaning …….                                       Emptiness
  10.  Expansion…….                                     Decline
  11.  Healthy Living Choices…                    Health Complications
  12. Generosity                                             Unawareness 
Posted by Kerry Richards

Friday, June 14, 2013


2013 Daily Bread 

The following post is from Kerry Richards, the new Mission Centre Financial Officer for Canada East Mission of Community of Christ, effective August 1, 2013.  We look forward to Kerry's ministry in this new role.

In his comments, Kerry refers to the Daily Bread devotional story of June 10.  You can find and read that article by clicking here.  If you have not already done so, you may wish to subscribe to receive the Daily Bread in your email inbox each day.

 I am enlivened each day by the Daily Bread reflections and spiritual practices which in today’s reading affirms the sacredness of community. I also daily encounter amongst the many happenings of my life the real world in the church community’s Facebook forums where diverse viewpoints from friends and members are continually shared, debated and curiously posed. I have experienced marvelous insight, challenging perspectives and encountered both gracious and provoking attitudes that evoke both positive and negative responses from within me. These forums have become a lesson in learning the realities and layers of faithful disagreement. I find the Daily Bread for me is a safe haven, a foundational daily beginning for personal blessing that enables me to be open to the challenges of sacred yet diverse community.

Kerry Richards

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Recently achurchforstarvingartists, published a post entitled Mistakes Were Made (But It Was Okay).  The post was about churches that are afraid to make a decision or take a chance on trying something new.  One comment in that writing has stayed with me. 
"Realize that Mistakes Are Our Friends.  If your church hasn’t made a mistake in the past year, you haven’t tried anything creative."
In the past year?  Many churches I know haven't tried anything really adventurous in the past decade, probably two!  That seems somewhat ironic given that during that same period, the inspired guidance given to the church has grown increasingly strident in its call for action.

The words that eventually became Doctrine and Covenants 161 were first presented to the church by then President Grant McMurray as Words of Counsel in 1996, then canonized in 2000. That document contained a fresh and compelling voice that seemed to me somewhat surprising.  It used the phrase, "Heed the urgent call..." in the midst of its guidance.

Just four years later in 2004, another revelation was presented to the church, again conveying this same sense of urgency in its call to the church.  " The call to respond is urgent.  Look to the needs of your own congregations, but look beyond your walls..."

In 2007, Section 163 was given and the call for immediate action became even more heightened.  This document contains words and phrases such as "Open your ears...", "Do not turn away...", "Humankind must awaken...", and "...equip people of all ages...".  (Read Section 163:4 for a clearer sense of this call.)

Surprisingly a mere three years later, further counsel was presented to the church, primarily with timely guidance to help us through some complex and difficult issues.  This counsel, now knows as D. & C. 164, continued to call the church to immediate action, its urgency contained in a statement followed by two powerful questions.  "The challenges and opportunities are momentous.  Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties?  Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision?" 

Now, in 2013 comes further guidance, part of which reads as follows.
Undertake compassionate and just actions that seek to abolish poverty and end needless suffering.  Pursue peace on and for the Earth.  

Let nothing separate you from this mission.
 Additional innovative approaches to coordinating congregational life and supporting groups of disciples and seekers are needed to address mission opportunities in a changing world.
 - Excerpts from Words of Counsel Presented at the 2013 World Conference

Recognizing the need for "innovative approaches" in congregational life, is it time we perhaps took a few more chances and risked making a few of those mistakes mentioned earlier?

The article cited from achurchforstarvingartists, is written from the viewpoint of the Presbyterian faith experience so not all the comments apply to Community of Christ, however the central theme spoke clearly to me.  I would be interested in knowing if it speaks to you as well, so why not click on the following link and read the post, then come back here to add your comments.   You can read the entire story by clicking here

Lets have a conversation about risking making some mistakes, shall we?  It may just be urgent.

Posted by Carman

Monday, June 10, 2013


This is the sixth and final post in a series of articles written by a number of Community of Christ Evangelists in Canada East Mission. We are pleased to offer the stories of these highly respected ministers for your reading. It is our hope that their stories of faith will bring a blessing to your life. This post is a little longer than we usually publish, but it is well worth five minutes of your time.  The post is from Evangelist Heather Fryer of Monetville, Ontario. 

Based on: Luke 4:18 IV
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised;”

As I pondered this scripture and the request to give an example of “the oppressed go free”, I considered that oppression can come in many forms—and can even be self-inflicted. I thought of a situation where people can find themselves “oppressed” by their circumstances and don’t recognize that they have caused the situation by their own fears, beliefs and choices. 
This is the story of a good friend and neighbour whom I will call Mrs. G. (just “G” for short).  After a lifetime of working hard and spending the last two years of her husband’s life caring for him until he died, G kept herself busy by helping out her neighbours and expressing her love in the form of homemade bread, pies, cakes or cookies. She was a blessing to many.  But, over time, she found managing her finances very challenging—her husband had always done that job. And now, of course, there was just one pension income but the same expenses to care for her home, even with the widow’s supplement. She became brokenhearted with despair over how to make ends meet.  She succumbed to “purchase-required” contests that promised big winnings and fortune-tellers that promised good fortune if money was sent to them.  Using credit cards to pay the fortune-tellers (who threated to send her “bad” luck if she didn’t send money), these situations drew her deeper and deeper into debt.  G became anemic from living on bread and margarine because she spent her money on these dreams instead of groceries. To her credit, she had good intentions for her potential winnings—to help others and the Church. This situation was unknown to anyone. Her only child, a son who was drowning in his own troubles was very effective at ignoring his mother and seldom stopped by to see her (even though he drove past her house every day, going to and from his home further up the road).
Since her husband died, G was very faithful attending our congregation and was baptized in 1997, at the age of 70. In 2006, although she professed to being “fine” when I would chat with her after Church, I had noticed that she seemed to be distressed but was not forthcoming. In the Fall of that year, we had as our guest ministry Ken McGowan, Financial Specialist. (I believe that his presence was God-directed, as there were three CEM appointees who had given a presentation in North Bay the previous day and on Sunday, each one was designated (by whom?) to visit a Northern Ontario congregation.)  Dwight and I hosted Ken overnight in our home. During our visit I expressed to him my concern for G, as I knew of a previous time that she’d had received advice through another friend who had tried to help resolve some dubious financial matters. Ken had some ideas for me to consider offering to her. As is our congregation’s custom when we receive guest ministry, we had a pot-luck lunch after Church and sister Shirley and I noticed that G was looking very pale. Shirley and I convinced (read: coerced) G into permitting Shirley to drive her to the Emergency at the nearest hospital.  G was so depleted, she required blood transfusions and barely remembers being hospitalized for a week, or any visitors who came to see her.
Following the return to her home, I visited her and expressed my concern, offering assistance if there was anything I could do to help. G’s eyes welled up with tears and she told me that she had “not slept a wink all night”, but had lain awake praying, asking God to please send someone to help her. The Holy Spirit sent a tingle through me from head to toe and tears came to my eyes, as I realized that mine was a God-sent mission. What a humbling and awesome privilege to be God’s instrument in answer to another’s prayers. As we talked, I shared with her that Ken had some ideas and if she wished we could follow through with them. I became her Financial Manager and hold Power of Attorney for her finances. As CFO, I applied for some assistance from the Oblation fund, which was gratefully received. We met with the bank manager and arranged a consolidation loan to pay off her debts. Then we set up a budget to manage income and expenses, settling on a weekly amount of cash for her to pay for some costs directly, such as groceries and personal items. With Ken’s assistance, we also prepared her will. God helped us to “bring deliverance to a captive”.

G got back into the baking she loved to do, sometimes taking orders or selling from her table at the local annual yard sale. Her hope and joy in life returned and she enjoyed visiting her friends once again and helping where she could. Since I would not receive any monetary appreciation for assisting her, she kept us supplied with regular gifts of pies or my husband’s favourite oatmeal cookies. G’s mail was delivered to my mailbox so I could pay her bills and after several months of “return to sender” and note-writing, managed to eliminate the contest and fortune-teller mailings. G was no longer “blind” to the deceit she had suffered and could now “see” hope for the future. It is ironic that in her troubles she could see the needs of others and wanted to help them but could not see how to help herself. I believe that is why God needed to respond to her prayerful pleas.
Through regular contact with her son, I was able to involve him more in her life and his new wife was also instrumental in promoting regular visits. In her 80’s, G’s health was deteriorating and my “responsibilities” grew to accompanying her to medical appointments and shopping trips. The care providers kept supposing I was her daughter, so we unofficially “adopted” each other. Arrangements were also made for Home Care, nurse visits and various other services through the wonderful Community Care program. Through government Residential Rehabilitation Assistance and Home Adaptation for Senior’s Independence programs, we were able to arrange for much-needed repairs and adaptations for her comfort and safety.  
A year and a half ago, her son and his wife found themselves in need of new accommodations.  This presented an opportunity for them to move in with G, which was a blessing since by then she was becoming unable to live alone. Because she was not amenable to the idea of a nursing home, this took care of all of their needs.  The son that ignored her for years now provides 24-hour a day care, supplemented with several visits per week from the Community Care workers. The “bruising” of the past has healed as she expresses her love and appreciation for her “wonderful son who takes such good care of me”. In accordance with her wishes and those of her son and daughter-in-law, I remain her financial manager. These arrangements are fulfilling her wish to remain in her own home for the rest of her days. She is ”set at liberty” from previous fears and anxieties.
At 85 years of age, G comes to Church when physically able and attended the Community Christmas Dinner and, in January, following a half-hour drive, sat in a wheelchair to pay her respects to the family of a priesthood member who passed away. I am pleased to state that G’s finances are in a healthy condition with sufficient funds reserved for her funeral expenses. She feels secure, knowing that her affairs are in order. For myself, I humbly appreciate having the opportunity to act with God’s help to bless the life of a faithful soul who has the gift of kindness and generosity towards others. In turn, G has blessed me with her warm friendship and love and the many lessons I have learned along the way about being a Spiritual Companion and receiving our Heavenly Father’s guidance.

Heather Fryer, Evangelist
Monetville, ON Canada

Friday, June 7, 2013



This is the fifth in a series of articles written by a number of Community of Christ Evangelists in Canada East Mission. We are pleased to offer the stories of these highly respected ministers for your reading. It is our hope that their stories of faith will bring a blessing to your life. This post is from Evangelist William McCarty of Port Elgin, Ontario.

I am a member of the Port Elgin, Ontario congregation (Canada East Mission). For the past 12 years, our congregation has sponsored a Peace Scholarship Award of  $500 to a graduating high school student. The  student must demonstrate peacemaking skills in self, family, school  and community.  We have 3 community judges plus myself as co-ordinator  representing  the church. Two of our judges are retired elementary and high school teachers,  the third community judge is a retired nuclear engineer who has received many local and provincial awards for outstanding volunteerism. Eric has opened many doors for us where previously we had no contact. We have met some outstanding students over the past 12 years. The high school has been very supportive in this endeavour.  At the award assembly each June, there are approximately 1000 students plus teachers and families.  I am given 5 minutes to give the presentation, but stretch that to 8-10 minutes in which I try to connect the International Peace Award to our local Peace Scholarship Award,  as in our Canadian recipients of the World Church’s Peace Award to Craig Klineberger and Jean Vanier.
One of our last recipients  was Angie who shared with the community judges of needing to bridge an understanding between her divorced mother and father and her younger siblings. At such a young age of 18, this young woman bore her testimony of the  presence of Christ’s peace.
This year, as we were interviewing students who had made submissions to the peace award, we met Emily. We noticed on her backpack a patch that  read  ALLY. During our interview, we asked Emily what the patch meant. She explained that if anyone was being bullied, discriminated against, or needed a friend to talk to, she would be a friend and a safe place to share.
I believe it is one of our callings to be an ally to those who feel oppressed, lonely, or fearful. Let us be like Emily and provide a sanctuary of peace to those who are searching for an ally.

In Grace and Peace,

William McCarty

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Healed of Hatred


This is the fourth in a series of articles written by a number of Community of Christ Evangelists in Canada East Mission. We are pleased to offer the stories of these highly respected ministers for your reading. It is our hope that their stories of faith will bring a blessing to your life. This post is from Evangelist Larry Galbraith of Ottawa, Ontario.

Several years ago, following a church meeting a mother came up to me very upset and depressed. She shared that recently her teenaged daughter had been accosted by a man who was now in custody and awaiting trial. Her heart was filled with hurt, anger and revenge. She was even feeling hatred toward God and she was suffering greatly. She did not know how she and her daughter could face this man in court. Her peace in Christ was gone and she felt desolate and alone.

Another Elder and myself ushered her into the sanctuary where it was quiet and offered her administration to ease her anguish. As we presented her to God, His Holy Spirit enveloped us in a blanket of warmth, love, understanding and forgiveness all in one. This mother was wrapped in a warm glow of peace and acceptance. We all felt His Divine Presence and her soul was healed.  The sword of righteous indignation was removed from her hands. She was free from all hatred and oppression. Praise the Lord!

Evangelist Larry Galbraith
Ottawa, Ontario

Monday, June 3, 2013


This is the third in a series of articles written by a number of Community of Christ Evangelists in Canada East Mission.  We are pleased to offer the stories of these highly respected ministers for your reading.  It is our hope that their stories of faith will bring a blessing to your life.  This post is from Evangelist Carson Imeson of Windsor, Ontario.

Serving as an Evangelist for the past 20 years has allowed me to experience and become more aware of the love God has for each one of us. It is a love that goes beyond judgment.  It is a love that recognizes the good in all of us. It has been my experience that in being a minister of blessing, I too receive the blessing. 

Last year I attended the McGowan’s Lake Reunion near Ottawa, Canada and met Sean Pigeon, who is blind. He is an Elder in the Community of Christ and even being physically blind has brought rich ministry to so many over the years. He received the sacrament of administration after the closing service and as we stood there alone, he asked if I would take him down the rocky terrain to his trailer. I said I would be glad to, but I have never led a blind person. What is required of me? He suggested that I make available to him my right elbow so he could touch it and to walk and he would follow. We arrived safely at his trailer and as I walked away, I was filled with God’s presence reminding me that in my blindness and uncertainty from time to time, all I need to do is reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and follow. This was the day that a blind person allowed me to see with new eyes what ministry is all about. I received a new meaning to the words “recovering sight to the blind”. It is through service that we are healed.   

 I have always been touched by the parable of the prodigal son. Even though the son had taken his inheritance and wasted it all with riotous living, the father continued to look down the road for his son’s safe return. And when he saw him at the bend of the road, he ran to meet him, had compassion and embraced him without judgment. We too are called to be sensitive to the broken-hearted, accept the sinner without judgment and let the oppressed free.

I have had the opportunity over the years to help out in soup kitchens in the City of Detroit. Along with others, we prepared the lunch and the reward for this labor was in the serving. As the homeless lined up you could see the joy on their face. When I would put a sandwich and a bowl of soup on their tray they were filled with gratitude. There was no complaining. Their faces were filled with smiles of thankfulness and it was expressed in the words THANK YOU. GOD BLESS YOU. I was blessed that day.

I wonder at times why we have the poor, the sick, the vulnerable, and marginalized among us. The oppressed have brought a new understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Evangelist Carson Imeson                                
Canadian Eastern Mission
Windsor Congregation