By Kerry Richards
Canada East Mission Centre President
When I first met Christine at our Coffee Cultures Conversation Group she arrived late. We were having a lively discussion about how we can individually and collectively contribute to the “common good”. We shared a brief introduction and launched back into meaningful dialogue. There was a chemistry present. Not one of the eight of us wanted to conclude our sharing. Following our time together, Christine and Barb hung around. Christine was direct. Who are we and what is our objective? Barb who was with us for just her second meetup said, “I don’t want to get into something I have to get out of.” We understand their caution, their expressed distrust of religion. We affirmed that Creating Connection which is our Meetup profile and Community of Christ our sponsoring faith community are respectful, affirming and open to examination. Our community interactions are based upon value statements called Enduring Principles that guide our groups. As our name implies we are creating connection and community. That alongside their experience with us was acceptable. Christine and Barb both sent us email follow-ups to their experience with us.
"I arrived late, and I felt very welcomed to your group. I wasn't sure what to expect, what would happen or what we would talk about. I was pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed myself. Thank you. In fact, the topic of discussion stayed with me for several hours, it did broaden my mind. Great morning." -Christine G.
"It was so fulfilling and gratifying to meet up with a such wonderful bunch of like minded people in the morning and evening. I loved all the connecting, the conversing, the sharing of thoughts, feelings and ideas and of course all the tasty food! Thanks for working to make connections happen." -Barb M.
Our social media profile on Meetup.com is matched to people looking for kindred groups whose profile matches theirs. Meetup draws us together. It takes courage for each new person to take a seat at our table. They are warmly greeted. These good folks are looking for meaning, trusted friendships and a sense of belonging. Those are the ingredients we strive to bring to each gathering.
Two months later I attended the monthly community meal hosted by this same group. There was Christine, greeting us as we walked into the house. I was now the visitor and graciously welcomed. Barb was their too. The group had doubled in size and as the evening progressed natural spontaneous conversations about spirituality and community happened all across the room. Not one person beyond the facilitator was of Community of Christ faith, yet they upheld our church as a progressive and leading edge movement that in drawing the circle wider was relevant to the diversity of seekers in society. Several stated they would be attending our upcoming Connection Retreat in the coming months. They sense belonging.
Our Mission Centre has setup 4 very unique “New Expression” storefront sites of our faith community. The emerging group of Seekers that I’ve just described, our “friends of faith” who sense belonging with Community of Christ want their group to establish a Community of Christ centreplace in their city that has no current church presence. Their attendance numbers are as large as our average congregation. They are meeting as regularly as a congregation. They do not come from a churched mould, their spiritual practices are diverse, their inter-faith inclusivity welcomes an exchange of blessing from those of diverse faiths. And yet, they sense that they are one with us.
Our Mission Centre has several such emerging faith communities. Each story, each context is slightly different but the common feature is that Community of Christ is honoured and followed for our willingness to pilot “New Expressions” and meet poised Seekers where they are and accept them as they are. We are mutually blessed. We have discovered that New Expressions emerge from “the outside in.”
By Caitlin d'Esterre
As a Community of Christ member, I believe that we are all called, compelled even, to approach our lives in a critical way. We are urged to look at the world around us and see opportunities for growth, change, betterment and empowerment. We are then driven to think outside the four walls of our church, and be innovators to help our communities.
As a nurse in one of the busiest Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICU) in Canada, I see families from all walks of life facing their worst nightmare: a sick newborn baby. One day I was working with a particularly small baby who had never gotten any breastmilk, even though her mother said she was pumping regularly. I asked this mother about the pump she was using. It turned out she couldn’t afford a hospital grade pump rental, which is essential to the milk supply of a NICU mom.
I called every resource in the city looking for an affordable option for this mother. I was startled to learn that most mothers without employer benefits do not qualify for any sort of cost relief. The most vulnerable mothers in our province are denied the opportunity to give their babies breast milk because of finances.
This situation plagued me for months, until I realised that I was being called to invent a solution. My congregation could initiate the kind of service these women needed. After several weeks of work with my pastor and other supporters, The Mother’s Own Milk (MOM) Project was born. The Calgary congregation purchased six hospital grade breast pumps to be rented to mothers at a low monthly cost. We can abolish poverty and end suffering by simply allowing mothers to feed their children the way nature intended.
This was my calling.
By Debra Donohue
Samish Island Campground (Washington, USA)
Our first BC (British Columbia) Friends and Family Weekend was June 1-3, 2018 at Samish Island. It is an opportunity for you to introduce your non-churched friends to the beauty of our west coast campground, meet our great people, and connect in a setting without classes or religious context. We held a contemporary worship service on the Sunday morning, but anything else religious will come from questions or discussions prompted by our guests. The intention is to provide an easy introduction to Community of Christ and its members. It was so well attended by friends and family, that we will be decided to make it an annual event!
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