Written by Becky Middleton
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
From October 26 - November 14, 2013, I was privileged to volunteer at the Joseph Smith Historical Site in Nauvoo, Illinois. My first "official" assignment was to help carve Jack 'O' Lanterns for the town of Nauvoo's Pumpkin Walk - how fun is that!
After some tutelage and practice with Lach MacKay I was ready to take my turns leading the guided tour of the historic sites which include: Nauvoo House, the Homestead cabin, the Mansion House, and the Red Brick Store. I really enjoyed sharing the history and stories surrounding Nauvoo and the early church with the many visitors who came to experience the Joseph Smith Historical Site. There were many insightful and interesting questions that people appreciated candid answers for.
When I was not leading tours, I was able to help around the visitor center with decorating for Christmas and a few other tasks as well as visiting and getting to know my fellow volunteers.
On my days "off " I visited the Latter-Day Saint sites and enjoyed interacting with the folks there too. I was very interested in the heritage of the era and the lovely old buildings. Many asked me interesting questions about my faith with the Community of Christ, being a woman with priesthood and a pastor in Canada. It was an enlightening time for many.
I also visited the surrounding area either on foot or being chauffeured by some of the other wonderful volunteer/friends. These included the state park, present town of Nauvoo, Carthage jail and the Community of Christ congregation and campgrounds located at Nauvoo.
My accommodation was a lovely heritage home overlooking the Mississippi river. Beautiful! All in all, it was a wonderful experience that I would love to do again and hope to!
For additional information about becoming a volunteer, click on the button below or email email@example.com
A tour of Italy with the Historic Sites team is being planned for 2024!
As we approach Advent season and Christmas celebrations, we also approach year end. Perhaps you, like I, look back at this time and reflect on memories and accomplishments as planning for next year hides behind curtain number three.
Gathering with people from around the globe for World Conference this year was a blessing. The energy, the devotion, the enthusiasm, the wisdom gathered led us to offer moments of blessing at our CEM conference. That became the highlight of the conference experience for many people, and we do plan for more of those experiences in gatherings next year. Thank you for sharing the importance of that practice. We continue to pray for every congregation, their leadership and all the dedicated members of our Mission Centre as we know our future resides in your wisdom, passion, and servant ministry.
When a course on discernment facilitation was offered, I eagerly signed up for this two-year journey of learning. What I have found most important for a successful facilitator is time dedicated to my personal spiritual formation. I still struggle with that discipline. In this troubled world, the more people there are dedicated to listening for the still small voice of the divine, the better. I hope you make that a part of your daily routine along with the Mission Prayer. All the seven facilitators in the course are expected to practice discernment with a group in 2024. If a congregation would like to be a discerning community, please contact the presidency team for an opportunity to be a participant.
Below is a poem that came to me during one of my spiritual formation times.
What is the sound of a leaf falling as it flutters to the ground?
Crisp and crackly or soft and silent?
Patiently you wait for its moment of release, wondering
Can you stop it in its descent?
Why no, God forbid.
For nature takes its cue from the creator above,
And we are but observers destined to watch and wait in awe.
For the day a leaf tumbles in all its blazing glory
can no more be controlled than the rising and setting
of the sun.
What is the sound of a tear falling as it trickles down a cheek?
Harsh and sobbing or small and soundless?
Tenderly you watch a soul in unknown torment, wondering
Can you stop a tear in its descent?
Why yes, God be praised!
For the suffering take their cue from acts of compassion
And we are the humble servants called to see, listen, and love.
For the day a tear lingers on a shadowed face
Is the day you’re called to kindly walk in the footsteps
of the risen One.
Yours in Christ, Vonda DenBoer
Written by Gwyn Beer
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
I want to thank you all for rolling along with us. We left Nauvoo and spent our last night in a hotel. Denyse loaded our luggage on to the bus for the last time and we headed down the road. Our goal was Iowa and then Missouri.
We arrived in Lamoni, Iowa and our first stop was Liberty Hall, the home of Joseph Smith III and family. The house is a little outside of the town. Our group was divided into 5 smaller groups to be able to tour through the home. We also toured through the one room school house that has been moved onto the property. This was the school that the Smith children did attend but it was not that close when they went to the school! I loved seeing inside the home. It has been lovingly restored and many pieces were original to the home.
"The Liberty Hall Story", built in 1881, was the home of Joseph Smith III till 1905. Joseph Smith said "Liberty Hall throbbed with life, teeming with the bustling activities of a large and growing family. Birth, death, and marriage occurred within its walls. Joys and sorrows succeeded each other as the day the night."
"Liberty Hall is a premier restoration site listed on the Iowa and National Registers of historic homes that gives visitors a glimpse into a middle-class family, an era of late Midwestern Victorian culture, and the story of a significant religious movement in American History."
Back on the bus, we went to Graceland University. Things have changes since I went to Graceland College. We were treated to lunch in the Commons dining room of the University. The food was very good! We had some free time to walk around the campus and then we returned to the bus.
We were in for a treat that was NOT on our agenda! We were taken to the local Lamoni Community of Christ church. The Mite society of Lamoni, Iowa had put on a special display of quilts and quilt tops, some of which dated back to the Mite Society beginning in 1872! The Mite Society (Luke 21:2-4 for the story of the widow’s mite) contributed sewing of clothes and quilts for the needy in the community. They formally organized in 1883 and in 1983 were recognized for this long-term service association.
Currently the Mites quilt every Thursday and sell the quilts with the proceeds contributing to community projects such as the library, medical center, walking trails and swimming pool. The Mites set up quilts throughout the chapel and were set up working on a quilt while we were there. There was a large collection of quilts from Liberty Hall and new quilts made by the local Mite Society members. They also advertised locally so community members could also come and see these beautiful quilts. Wow! What an end to our tour! We left Lamoni sent on our way by these amazing quilters!
As the bus rolled along, we sang and shared and had our final devotion. The bus rolled to our final stop, the parking lot of the Temple in Independence, Missouri. “A Story to Tell: Women in Community of Christ” bus tour officially ended.
Written by Gwyn Beer
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
Last week Brenda Senga wrote about a wonderful time at the Kirtland Visitor Centre that included both a wonderful meal while gazing at the temple and a Communion Meal in the temple.
Community of Christ owns Kirtland Temple but we are not the only ones caring for the sacred spaces that we hold in our history hearts! The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are also the caretakers of our sacred spaces. I had the pleasure of being conducted through some of these sacred spaces by Elder and Sister Barrow. They were my site guides twice. We went to Palmyra NY to tour the Smith Family home site where I first met Elder and Sister Barrow. They guided us through the Smith family home painting a picture of a young man in touch with God and a family that supported him. We were then given time to enter the Sacred Grove. We went on to the Grandin Print Shop where the first printing of the Book of Mormon was done. We stopped at the Hill Cumorah, some climbed the hill and others took time to stretch and then back on the bus.
We returned to Kirtland and visited the temple and then toured the Joseph and Emma Smith home which is a block away from the temple with the cemetery in the middle. This was my second encounter with Elder and Sister Barrow! What a blessing for me! This couple had raised 4 sons and were now spending 18 months volunteering at the sacred sites from our combined heritage. They were away from their home and children and grandchildren but so positive about their experience volunteering. They Thanked Me for caring for the Kirtland temple and Nauvoo!
Next stop: Nauvoo Illinois! The bus rolled up to the visitor’s centre in Nauvoo where we had the opportunity to stretch and go to the washroom. We were given a box lunch to take back on the bus and as we ate our box lunch, we drove the streets of Nauvoo. Seeing the Mansion house, the original small home of Joseph and Emma that was added on to for family and friends. The burial site of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum Smith and all the Stories that accompanied this place! We stopped and shopped at the Red Brick Store.
Coming up next week...
The last stop on the Rolling Reunion, thanks for getting on the bus with us!
“The restoring of persons to healthy or right relationships with God, others, themselves, and the earth is at the heart of the purpose of your journey as a people of faith.” D&C 163:2b
Public advocacy is one of the key actions for making a difference in addressing the current climate crisis. But few of us feel comfortable, or qualified, and often we wonder how it fits with our Christian principles of peace. The Advent season is a good time to reflect on the Biblical roots of taking non-violent direct action for justice. Rachie and Mike of Great Britain’s Christian Climate Action will share the Biblical roots from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. People of faith made courageous decisions in the past. They risked something new. Now it’s our turn to risk something new!
This webinar is presented by the North American Climate Justice Team. Our speakers are Rachie Ross, from Christian Climate Action, and Mike Mullins.
Christian Climate Action is a nonprofit organization in Great Britain taking meaningful action in the face of imminent and catastrophic climate breakdown. Inspired by Jesus’ examples of social justice action, they engage in public witness, nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to urge those in power to make the changes needed to decrease carbon emissions.
Rachie Ross is an active member of Christian Climate Action and a trustee for Operation Noah. She has also co -founded CCPAST (Climate Child Protection and Safeguard Team). As a theologian she is motivated by the biblical mandate for non-violent direct action and provides her understanding of Hebrew scripture as the foundation for Christian ethical action.
Mike Mullins is a leadership coach and spiritual retreat facilitator. His background is in Catholic mysticism and psychology. For Mike the key to rewilding the earth, to reversing biodiversity loss and the effects of climate change, is a spiritual challenge. He will share with us New Testament stories that demonstrate appropriate, direct, non-violent action to address injustice.
Although Rachie and Mike are firmly grounded in the Christian faith and will use Christian scripture as the foundation for their presentation, they are both committed to interfaith dialogue. We can all learn from one another and share our mutual concern and compassion for all life. People of all faith traditions are welcome.
Learn about the team: https://cofchristclimatejustice.org/
Written by Brenda Senga
It has been a long-time coming to travel the paths where the first steps of our faith movement began. To “hear the Stories”. As I joined with Gwyn & Linda and other 43 excited companions, it became an extraordinary journey, with the echoes and reverberations of the past marking each mile. The “surprises” and moments of blessing were innumerable.
How many of you have ridden on a carousel? Lately, on our first day we stopped at the Coralville Mall in Iowa. Just inside the entrance was a beautiful, big and bright carousel. A private ride was awaiting our enjoyment. Oh what JOY. (I found it was much easier to get on my horse than get off!)
It was delightful to sing and to dance 2 song books (plus many added songs), celebrating the lives and actions of the many women we were highlighting. On a sunny, warm day we indeed sang “Under the spreading chestnut tree!” and we were happy! And we danced at the Hancock Shaker Village.
At every site and venue we were greeted with such hospitality and generosity. Dear folks with open hearts and hands- waiting outside, welcoming us in and waving us on our way. Each day there was time to listen and to share our stories while rolling along. As we wound our way through the countryside, there were times that creation was truly breathtaking and we rode in the gentleness of silent wonder.
A moment; we gathered in the parlor of Liberty Hall (Home of the Smith family). The pump organ was played as our accompaniment for singing “The Old, Old Path”. I was taken to a little Church in Arborfield, Saskatchewan where as a child and teen I played the little pump organ for every worship and other occasions. What JOY for that moment!
My ability at taking pictures is “limited”, I like this one. (see photo above) I took it from the Kirtland visitor center (where the evening meal had been set for us), looking through the window to the Kirtland Temple, where we later shared in the Holy Meal of Communion.
I, (we), have many more stories to tell, more songs to sing. It was a deepening, authentic and sustaining experience. A celebration, a renewal, a recommitment to purpose. Dare to receive the generous Love yet to be. Dare to offer that Love. Trust in the Mystery and the moments of Blessings therein. Now in this moment. Now in this day…
Rolling Reunion – What can I say, we didn’t really know what to expect but it sounded interesting - well it was fabulous! Way more than what I was expecting. Spending time with and getting to know my Canadian counter-partners Gwyn Beer and Brenda Senga, was a blessing too.
I had never in my 76 years gone on a bus tour, that I can remember, but this one will stay with me forever. The preparation that Barbara Walden and Peter Smith did was totally absorbing. Our wonderful bus driver Denyse, kept us safe on the roads, giving us her wonderful smile and help all the time.
Seeing these interesting places that the church has to offer in the company of others was amazing as well as the understanding of our history that was brought forward for us. I took so many pictures along the way that I will be able to relive this trip forever. Getting to know new people for me, is always fascinating but this was about the people on the tour as well as the fascinating church places and learning about those of history that brought us into our gatherings.
A comfortable ride, good company, historically learning new things - what more could we ask for.
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537