There is a wonderful monthly online series on mystics called “Thirsting For God” that’s hosted by the Bend, Oregon Community of Christ congregation. On Saturday, David and Carolyn Brock and Mary Jacks shared a session called “Pilgrims on the Camino Ignaciano: Walking with St. Ignatius” describing their recent pilgrimage to retrace St. Ignatius’s journey across Spain. They shared their own preparations, the spiritual practices that were part of their daily walk on pilgrimage, and the practices that St. Ignatius followed when he was alive, which included extensive time in silence in a cave. Their photos were spectacular, as were their stories!
As Mission Centre Presidents, we have contemplated our camping program a lot over the past six months. With the amount of dedicated support it requires, what does it mean to us? With registration fees now in place, what is it worth? The analogy that keeps coming to my mind is pilgrimage. If I want to walk to holy places, I must get the right equipment. If I want to be able to go, I must free my calendar. If I want to have a rich experience, I must understand how to prepare spiritually. Pilgrimage is intentional and takes effort!
It can be argued that one of the best things we do as a community in Western Canada is camping. That’s a big statement! It also calls us to put our sustained effort and gifts toward this goal, whether we personally set foot on a campground or not. Now that we’ve had a year of camping with our new system under our belts, we can plan our time, our registration fees, and our invitations to others within and outside our fellowship. Let’s turn our feet toward holy ground!
If you would like to join the invitation list for “Thirsting for God”, please send an email to email@example.com
Yours in Christ,
Gwyn, Kat, and Shannon
We were so blessed at Mission Conference by the ordination of Linda Klughart to the office of Seventy and by the way this event inspired Apostle Art Smith’s Sunday message. It has been ringing in my heart ever since, and we wanted to bring you this excerpt to feed your soul, so that you can return to it again and again. This is what matters most for us right now.
Mission Centre President Team
Jesus tells them stories.
The stories are absurd sounding.
What woman having lost one of her ten coins wouldn’t light a lamp and search for it all night long? Well, no woman would do this. In the story, she would have spent more on oil burning in her lamp than the lost coin was even worth. And then, when the coin is found, she calls a celebration. By the time she had purchased a cake from Costco, she’d have spent way more than that little coin was ever worth.
And no self-respecting shepherd would ever abandon the 99 sheep, risking everything, to find one that had wandered off.
But the story continues similarly. The sheep is recovered and there’s a celebration.
What would the party look like? Roasted sheep! I imagine.
But the stories are told to help the grumblers understand that from God’s perspective, when anyone is missing, or excluded, whether it’s just one in a hundred, or one in ten, or one half, it’s profoundly wrong in Heaven.
So when we talk about growing together, growing in knowledge of God’s will and ways, we need to be careful.
We’re a little religious community in decline.
We might be tempted to circle the wagons and to focus in on each other.
After all, maybe if we can strengthen ourselves, get better at what we do, then others might want to join us.
After all, surely one of our greatest strengths is the way we love one another, the way we can count on each other to always make other members of our community feel at home.
But what I take from this 15th chapter, at the heart of Jesus’ teaching in the Gospel according to Luke (which is by the way the kind of content so much at the heart of the gospel that I know people who have Luke 15 tattooed on their forearm), what I take from this chapter is that growing together for us means growing in our capacity to notice the ones who are missing.
As we grow, we become keenly aware of those who are not here.
Later in chapter 15 it’s one of the two sons who's gone off with half of the inheritance.
It was obvious he had gone.
With the woman, it was one tenth of what she had that went missing.
With the shepherd, it was one out of a hundred.
We grow in our awareness and sensitivity towards the lost. We prioritize them, not us, and we celebrate when we get to be together again.
The paradox is that our growing together isn’t really focused on those who are here.
We grow together in our ability to notice those who are missing and in our ability to focus on them without religious or righteous grumbling.
Linda will be ordained today as a minister for noticing who’s missing.
The scriptures talk about the dangers that the seventy will face because of the places they will go. But today I’m thinking about the risks that will be generated back at home as the seventy do their work. They risk provoking grumbling among the religiously faithful.
The seventy, like the angels in heaven, recognize how profoundly wrong it is that people are being left out, forgotten, ignored or excluded.
They are passionate for the lost.
But it’s risky work. All around the church, in our little communities, getting smaller all the time, we can ill afford, it would seem, to have some of our best ministers off focusing elsewhere.
Focusing on those who aren’t even religious.
Running after immigrants, visiting prisons, working with special needs people, paying attention to the LGBTQ community.
They aren’t the ones paying the bills.
We’re not too sure we really want our little community to be dominated by those people anyway.
It is risky work to which you are called Linda. If you’re doing it right, there may be grumbling.
But today, it seems a little bit clear.
And my dream is that we’ll grow together, not necessarily to become more religious, more spiritually pure, but to be more sensitive to the ones who’re not here, those we’ve lost along the way, and maybe we can also grow to be a little less grumbly.
Yours in Christ,
Gwyn, Kat, and Shannon
It was so good to see so many of you this past weekend for our Canada West Mission Centre Conference! We will share more in the future about the decisions that were made in our business meeting this year, but for now, here are some photos of the fun we had in Vancouver, Calgary, and Regina, where we were able to see you in person.
Creating Connection is coming to Calgary! Join us for our Taste of Nurturing Spirit Retreat, our Community Labyrinth Walk, Coffee and Conversation, and a Meet and Greet with the hosts from Creating Connection.
At this mini retreat you'll get a taste of the practices we share in An Afternoon of Nurturing Spirit and Creating Connection. From meditation, to drumming to journaling and meaningful conversation. Come prepared to be Inspired, Energized, and Connected.
Click on the buttons below to register and to see our full schedule. Register today and save your spot! Space is limited. $75 per person.
Here are our FREE activities in Calgary
Wednesday September 14th
September 16-18, 2022
In-person event at Hills of Peace
While this is a men's retreat, it is intended to provide space for all those who identify as such to explore the scriptures, their faith, and their lived experience through that unique lens.
Registration Fee: $125 CAD (subsidies available)
Register at www.cwm.events
Registration Deadline: Friday, September 9
It's been several years since the men of Canada West gathered at Hills of Peace campground for a weekend of fellowship, spirituality, laughter and lots of food. By design, this weekend is not a church service (or any kind of service for that matter). It is an opportunity for us to take a road trip and gather as friends.
Our guest minister, Rick James, from Chilliwack is going to share some insights from one of his favorite books, "What's So Amazing about Grace". If you have attended before, you know that the weekend has it’s own vibe, somehow sharing traditions along with discussion as unique as the spectrum of interests of our guest ministers. It’s an opportunity to get away, to close up the camp, and to hang out with our buddies from Western Canada. If you’re in high school or have attended high school within the last 80 years this is your invitation.
So just like always – take a chance and sign up. Accepting the invitation is the big step. We need a road-trip!
Calling for a Rustic Re-do!
As Community of Christ summer camps wind down for the year, let’s all take a moment to reminisce about sharing laughs with family and friends, singing songs at the campfire, delicious meals in the dining hall, and enjoying the nature of our beautiful campground. If you stayed in a rustic cabin, you may also remember the sore back from an uncomfortable mattress, or the stuffy and dark cabin with it’s tiny windows that never open when you want a breeze, but refuse to close when it gets too chilly. Ah, the joys of camp!
While of course we have a soft spot for the original rustic cabins that we all know and love, the camp is in the process of refurbishing and updating those beloved cabins. Updates include: new (and more effective!) insulation, bigger windows, new doors, added electrical outlets with USB ports, and super comfortable double beds (no more smacking your head on a bunk bed in the morning!). The refurbished cabins are brighter and more comfortable, as well as more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable, all of which contributes to the longevity of our beloved campground.
While those of us who grew up attending camps at Samish may have a nostalgic fondness for the rustic cabins, those who attend the campground and retreat centre for the first time as an adult may not understand the appeal. This includes newcomers to Community of Christ camps (or aging C of C campers who don’t have the same tolerance for those rock hard bunks!), as well as many of the new groups that share our gorgeous campground. Did you know there are Buddhist retreats and artist groups that frequent Samish? I can understand why these groups would love our campground, and can also imagine that these groups would appreciate a more comfortable, modern, and accommodating private place to continue the zen and creativity.
Some rustic cabins have already been refurbished (check out A, B, C, and D 1 or 2 next time you’re on the grounds!) and the next round of refurbishment is set to begin in October. We are lucky and grateful to have had all of the labor done by camp friends who have lovingly volunteered their time, as well as some who have donated or reduced the price of materials. Only $3,600 (USD) covers the cost of a cabin refurbishment, which buys increased comfort, energy efficiency, and appeal to a wider audience. Consider making a donation, either personally or with your family or congregation, to help update our rustic cabins so everyone can continue to enjoy the campground for years to come. Every dollar helps!
If you would like to contribute to the rustic cabin refurbishment fund, please contact Jeff Cravy (Samish Island Camp Treasurer, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bill Campbell, (Samish Island Camp Board President, email@example.com) to arrange donations.
Your Samish Campground representative, Alexis Beer
September 9-11, 2022!
In-person event with online options
Register at www.cwm.events
Registration Fee: $10 CAD
Registration Deadline: Sunday, September 11
Click here to visit Conference Hub and download conference programs, Zoom link information and more!
We hope you will join us on Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11 for our mission conference and celebrate with us how we are continually Growing Together. Click on the button below to see full schedule.
This year our Mission Conference will be held on 3 main sites: Vancouver, Regina and Calgary from where our three mission centre presidents will be joining. People are encourage to join in-person from any of these sites or join online from their closest congregation.
While our conference is September 9-11, we will have opportunities in the week leading up for you to engage early. We will have two options for virtual pre-legislative sessions on Sept 4 in the afternoon and Sept 7 in the evening for you to learn about our business agenda and ask questions in a more relaxed setting. There will also be a "coffee and conversation" virtual gathering on the evening of Thursday September 8 with Debra to explore questions around our theme.
We will have our Annual Business Meeting on Saturday, September 10 as well as a very special Talent Show where we will share pre-recorded and live gifts from across the Mission Centre! We also invite you to our worship - communion service on Sunday, September 11 with guest speaker Art Smith.
Change is on my mind lately. The change in weather is forefront, and the resultant change in schedule for our family – back to school, back to teaching, end of camps and trips for now. It seems that I’m daily surprised by friends’ changes in jobs and unexpected changes in personnel at our girls’ schools. Reading the new World Church appointments showed change on a larger scale – seeing the legacy of service provided and the new faces stepping into bishopric and apostolic roles. The phrase that keeps coming to my mind is, “Well you didn’t expect things to stay the same, did you?”
Change can be stimulating as well as intimidating. I do best with change when I don’t chain it to the past and constantly rehearse comparisons from my limited viewpoint. While listening to a First Nations Okanagan story-teller this summer, I learned that in their wisdom tradition it’s the young people who adopt and promote change quickly, while the elders are more likely to dig in their heels and value the long view. Where am I on this spectrum of interaction with change? Where do I long to be?
We have our Mission Conference this weekend, and it’s new in some ways and familiar in others. We hope that above all we can do the business of our conference while taking pleasure in being together, whether on screen or in one of the sites that will host gatherings. I picture us like a satellite’s view of Western Canada at night: bright splashes of light that push against the darkness, connected by heart instead of highways. Please join us this weekend and make room in your heart for change – for new possibilities to be born!
Yours in Christ,
Gwyn, Kat, and Shannon
The Saskatoon Congregation has sold it's building and will be broadcasting their service on Sunday, September 4 @ 11am (SK time) via Zoom. Click on the button below to attend online.
Art Smith will be joining virtually and a few of the Saskatoon members will share some music/reflections. This will be a communion service and those attending online are welcome to participate and prepare their own communion at home if they wish. If you have any questions, please reach out to Jae Senga (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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