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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?"

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Community Fellowship

On Thursday, June 18, 2015 Grand Valley hosted their annual strawberry supper.  Of course, the planning starts at least 2 weeks earlier, when the lists are made up and passed out as to what is required in food – whether your list involves donating butter, coffee, tea, homemade salad dressing, devilled eggs, jelly salads, or iced cakes.  Everyone takes their list and  willingly gets ready for the event.  The day before, all who are able arrive at the church at 9 am and start to prepare for our dinner.  Potatoes are peeled and cooked, cabbage shredded, silverware wrapped, tables and chairs are set up in preparation to being host to the community.  By noon, the inside of the church is ready – enough work for Wednesday.

Strawberries arrive at 1 pm on Thursday, and the crew is on deck again, washing and hulling the berries.  During these work bees there is always laughter and fun as the work is accomplished. 

This year, weather reports were saying rain would start by 4:30, the time our supper was to start.  Regardless of the weather reports the dining tent was erected on our beautiful church lawn – and God gave us a beautiful evening, sunshine and blue  skies. What a blessing!  People began to arrive, and at one time almost 200 people were eating at the same time – using the setup downstairs in the church and the tables and chairs set up on the lawn.  It was such a blessing watching people chatting, visiting and enjoying their evening under God’s great canopy of trees and skies.  A beautiful community of people gathered together!

Our congregation is so blessed with having eager workers.  We reach out into our community with hospitality and love and we are blessed with the community attendance to the dinner; and, our congregation is blessed by them attending.  The churches in our little village of Grand Valley have a wonderful compassion for one another and support each other in many activities.

Today, Sunday, June 21, our congregation was invited to John and Marlene Black’s new barn for our church service.  Many of you know, this is not an ordinary barn.
We were so blessed again, Sunday school (with coffee) was led by Ron Yager, from Independence, Missouri, who related the story of his father, Joe, who served as a missionary his whole life in service to Christ.
  Ron was the speaker for the worship service and brought a challenge to us by relating his life’s stories; and, how we can apply and grow with our own life’s situations.  We had a guest soloist, Dorothy Miller, who took part in the service.  We were ministered and blessed many ways during the morning.  Thank you so much John and Marlene for inviting us to come and worship at your place. Thank you for the many who helped organize the service and those taking part in the service. 
 Of course, we cannot forget the potluck lunch that followed the service, the icing on the cake again was the fellowship we enjoyed.
The congregation had a busy week and we have been truly blessed with our activities. 

Submitted by Kerry for Diane Franks

Friday, June 19, 2015

Painful Realities and Hopes for Peace

Nora Sanders is the General Secretary of the United Church of Canada within their Executive Council. I receive her ongoing communications and this latest letter provides a heartfelt sense of 2 recent occurrences of painful realities within our society worthy of our prayerful reflection. She writes......

"You picture a small group of people of different ages gathering in a church basement for an evening Bible study. Maybe some had come because of burdens they needed to lift up to God. Others may have been there because it was their custom to gather to study scripture. The pastor leading the session offered inspiration to so many.

Only one person present knew that for most of those gathered, this time spent studying scripture together would be the last hour of their lives.

According to the news reports, the 21-year-old white man who stands charged, sat in the Bible study group for an hour before shooting nine people. All those who were shot were black people. Those killed included the beloved pastor, and an 87-year-old woman. They left behind parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, a grieving community and a shocked nation.

Following on the events in Ferguson a few months ago, this horrible crime serves as a grim reminder that although laws have changed, government positions have changed, and the views of the broader public surely have changed too, there remains a stream of racism and violence not so far beneath the surface. The civil rights movement of the 1960s brought about huge gains in the rights of people of all races, changes that have been embraced generally in American society, but not accepted by all. It’s especially chilling to think that the young man charged with these murders was born at a time when important battles for racial equality had already been won in the courts and the legislatures. He would have been just entering high school when his country elected a black man as President.

It gives some comfort to note that this didn’t take place in our country. Some comfort perhaps, but not a lot.We are not the same as our neighbours to the south, but there are currents of racism in our society too. We yearn to be better than we are. We can be better than we are, as people, as a church, and as a country, but it will require effort and a willingness to face up to our own awkward realities.

In this week, as our Canadian National Aboriginal Day approaches, I had expected to be writing about Truth and Reconciliation, and the importance of being serious about responding to the Calls to Action that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued two weeks ago.

I recommend that every member of our church, and in fact every Canadian, read those 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

As a church, there is an important role for us. Our work is with hearts and souls and the sharing of God’s love in ways that transform.

I don’t know what scripture passages that little group at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal in Charleston was studying this week, so let me end with these words from Psalm 9:

"The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you."

Blessings, Nora
submitted by Kerry

Friday, June 12, 2015

Bouncing with Joy

After weeks of planning, preparations and distribution of pamphlets to hundreds of homes in the neighborhood; the day had finally come. This was the day for the church and community to join together to raise funds for a “Lunch Program” for a school in the neighborhood. 
    The (Kitchener) church fellowship hall was set up for face painting, pet rock art, fish pond casting and games for children.  Two live bands were assembling to fill the room with music, a balloon artist was on his way and the BBQ’s would soon be lit. Now for the final attraction, the “piece de resistance”; a full sized Bouncy Castle.
    The usually warm weather had suddenly turned very cold and the rain continuing to pour down made it impossible to set the “Bouncy Castle up outdoors.  What to do!  Should the delivery be cancelled?  Would families even bring their children to enjoy it on such a rainy day?
    While twinges of such uncertainty flashed through my mind, not so in the heart and mind of our Children’s Ministry Leader.  With confidence and unwavering enthusiasm, she simply stated,  “We’ll put the Bouncy Castle in the sanctuary!”
    To my astonishment, the sanctuary immediately became a flurry of activity as men and women began to push the pews back, forward and to the sides of the room. The long, heavy, solid oak pews were being moved around as effortlessly as an army of ants would move grains of sand.  To everyone’s delight, the room was soon filled from floor to ceiling with a massive Bouncy Castle for kids to enjoy.
    And the children came:  children from the congregation,  children from the school, and YPC children from the neighborhood.  For three wonderful hours, the church was alive with music, conversation, the enjoyment of food and the bright eyes and sweet laughter of children.  A castle had found Sanctuary inside the church to the sheer delight of parents and children alike.
    On that cold and rainy day in May, we clustered together and became a community of Joy.

    “We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote Communities of
    Joy, Hope, Love and Peace”.

Ruth Black,
June 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Mission Prayer at Work

In the Blenheim congregation we are praying the Mission prayer daily that we will be fully awake, ready and open to where the Spirit is leading and have the courage and wisdom to respond. I recognize that God's Spirit has really been working and directing each of us in some pretty profound ways. I want to share with you one amazing way how God has been blessing us and helping us to share with others and revitalizing our congregation.

Recently our congregation held a yard sale, bake sale, hotdog BBQ event on a rather busy Saturday. In advance we each delivered flyers to people in the neighbourhood and surrounding area. Everyone looked forward to this day and lots of energy was spent in preparation. We had multiple tables of new and gently used stuff inside and outside! It was a big project which we had talked about for some time and finally decided that it was time to actually do it. I am so thankful that we hosted this.

Two young adult friends of the church participated and modeled grace and generosity in a way that others had not experienced before. The one went to a local greenhouse and obtained fresh vegetables and arranged them on a table outside and was so positive and happy that it radiated love and joy to everyone. The other set up his own BBQ and BBQ station complete with stereo, in a very creative way that allowed him to serve hotdogs and play some awesome current WOW Christian music which had people dancing and singing in the parking lot.

We each were stationed at different areas to help with sales and customer service to make it easier for those attending. We all worked hard together to create an environment that was welcoming, happy and expressed thanks for coming and supporting our fundraiser. Again each person leaving experienced an expression of "Thanks for coming" and a big wave good bye as they drove out of the parking lot. The day truly was amazing. I was stationed close to the parking lot for the day. I overheard comments from people as they were leaving saying things like: "Wow, see I told you they believed in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit", "Wasn't this a wonderful stop on our yard sale adventure today", "I am so glad we stopped!", "There are some really nice people at this church", "I hope they have another event, we will have to make sure we come back." It was a fantastic day of blessings and happiness.

I must admit that at the end of the day I was shocked when I went in our building while cleaning up and discovered that most of our pamphlets and printed items in our entrance were gone. At first I thought perhaps someone had removed them to prevent the wind from blowing them all around, but discovered that volunteers had observed people stopping and reading our Enduring Principles brochures that are displayed in our entrance and taking the other literature below as well. Awesome! We had not planned on that. A new good problem. We have to replace our pamphlets, but what an amazing blessing to have to replenish. I am so glad that it contained current information. We have one individual who looks after this and she has been bringing her Herald to the Church each month after she finishes reading it and placing it in with the pamphlets for others to read. It was even gone! I pray that those who took the pamphlets and materials will be blessed by the information that they contained and that we will be ready to continue to share and respond as opportunities present themselves.

While cleaning up I also heard many positive testimonies, particularly from an individual, who is not a priesthood member, and is a very quiet and humble person. He noted people stopping at the Chapel entrance and so he invited them in, allowed people to sit in our Chapel or come into the Chapel area and look around. He remained in the Chapel area, answered questions about our Church and our beliefs. Again not something that we had planned, but an awesome blessing and testimony of how God had been preparing us and developing each of us as disciples in some pretty amazing ways for service. All are called and gifted and truly God was aware and blessed our community in some very profound ways. I am thankful for the blessing that this man was open to the Holy Spirit and had the courage to respond and share his rich testimony with those who came.

The following day was Sunday. The Yard Sale blessing and ministry experience continued as ten children and four adult visitors joined us for our Worship service at 11. They had come to the yard sale the previous day and decided to come to Church. This truly was an amazing blessing and further testimony of God's Love, Grace and Generosity. We have continued to have various visitors from the community each Sunday since and for this I am truly thankful for the new opportunities that each of us has had and has to share in the journey of faith with others. God is using each of our gifts and talents to bring blessings to others. We are so thankful and continue to pray the Mission Prayer as we respond to those in our community. We are eager to share the Gospel and journey in faith with others knowing that this is not easy but we are willing to be open to the opportunities as we make an intentional shift in our responses for those whom we encounter. These are exciting times in the Blenheim congregation.

submitted by Wende Badder

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

“On the Front Porch”

    The heat and humidity were beginning to drain my energy as I reached the last house on my designated route.  As members of the Community of Christ, we had been distributing flyers that morning to homes near the church.  Each flyer was an invitation to a Fund Raising Community Barbecue to be held at the church in support of a lunch program at a nearby school.
    He wasn’t visible from the street; but as I walked up the driveway and made my way around garbage bins tucked behind the hedge, I could see the old man sitting on the front porch.  Climbing the weather worn steps toward him, I simply extended a friendly, “Hello!”   In a somewhat pleasant and yet gruff voice he responded with, “You can keep your flyer and give it to someone else.  I’m not going anywhere!” 
    Raising his hand to run thin fingers through a crown of disheveled grey hair, his weary frame spoke as clearly as his audible voice saying, “I’m not feeling well today. I tried to do too much yesterday and I’m not feeling well at all.”  Concern welled up within me. I wanted to reach out and wrap him in a shawl of compassion and care.
    The front door of his house was wide open and over his shoulder I could not help but notice the ramshackle interior of the living area.  There was so much that needed to be done all around him; but this was his home, this was his reality.  What he needed most in this moment was a friend.  And so, for a short while, we became two strangers on the porch engaged in quiet conversation.
    The man was 90 years old, he lived alone but assured me that he had a wonderful daughter and son-in-law that were always willing to drive across town to visit him when he really needed their help. While I saw him as vulnerable, I could detect in his mannerisms and in his spoken words that he was a proud and determined man who enjoyed his independence.
      Although very much “out of my league”, (no pun intended) we talked about his love of watching baseball and we laughed together about his frustration with televised hockey.  In those few minutes together, he seemed to become comfortable enough with my presence to ask, without reservation, if I would do a couple of favors for him. I was grateful for his asking. For, although they were simple tasks, they helped to make me feel useful in a tangible way. 
    His heart seemed lighter as I proceeded down the steps to leave. With his morning newspaper now unfolded in his lap, he wished me a good day and I the same to him. 

    The name of Jesus was never mentioned but I believe His Spirit was there. 

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is expressed best in Community life where people become vulnerable to God’s grace and each other.”    Enduring Principles

Written by Ruth Black
May, 2015.