Gathering Women Together

image

Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there.” (Matthew 18:20)

One of the wonderful things I’ve noticed during my short time here is how this congregation is very good at making time for one another outside of Sunday morning worship. Scripture reminds us to never neglect meeting together. Gathering together encourages us to work together to come up with ways to practice what we preach – good deeds, loving one another, etc. (Hebrews 10:24-25). Sometimes we think that the only time that “church” happens is on Sunday morning, but here at Cole Harbour Woodside United Church there are many other opportunities to gather together with God at the centre. 

Women, in particular, have found beautiful ways to do that in this community. Two ways that the women of Cole Harbour Woodside have done this are Women, Wine, and Worship and Widow’s Lunch

Women, Wine and Worship is a monthly gathering of women at Pilot’s Pub in Woodside, near the Woodside Ferry Terminal. This group regularly gathers on the 3rd Tuesday of the month around 7:15 pm for a 7:30 pm start and usually finish up around 9 pm. This is an opportunity for women to meet in public to connect with each other over a glass of wine (or other beverage), nurture community, reflect on Scripture, and share concerns through prayer.

Widow’s Lunch is a potluck lunch gathering specifically for women whose spouses have died. This gathering provides a beautiful opportunity to share a meal together, to talk about life, to laugh, and to support each other. They often begin their gathering with a reflection on scripture and prayer. These lunches are regularly held in the church hall on the 4th Tuesday of each month at noon.

These gatherings are open to all people who self-identify as a woman.  Just like on Sunday morning, you do not have to be a member of our church (or any church) to come. YOU ARE WELCOME HERE. If you already come to one of these groups, please remember that small groups may be more difficult for new folks to come to without a personal invitation. So, if you love your time with other women at either of these groups don’t neglect to tell others about it and invite a friend or many to come with you to the next one. If you are new to these ideas and are interested, please come! Your initial nervousness about coming to something new will quickly be dissolved by a warm welcome. Gathering as women who support and love one another is one more way we are Practicing What We Preach!

Women of Worth3

 

 

 

We Affirm…

image
The Blog post from February 4th was missed as my computer needed a trip to the MacBook spa after I put it to work on my study leave last week! Please forgive the missed post. Thank you, ~k

January 27th the congregation of Cole Harbour Woodside United Church voted 95.5% in favour of becoming an Affirming Church. This means that we now declare ourselves to be fully inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. We have made a commitment to back up our words with action. So, what does this really mean? And, why does it matter?

According to the Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble(AU/SE) website “all gender identities and sexualities are a gift from God and <…> churches should be a safe and fully welcoming space for LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit people to worship.” A group of volunteers representing this congregation worked tirelessly this past year through what is known as the affirming process. By doing so, they were able to present a motion to our congregation requesting that we become an Affirming Church. By exclaiming “Yes!” with its overwhelmingly positive vote, this congregation has committed to being held publicly accountable to Practice What We Preach!

This process took time, dedication, and hard work. The requirements of the process are too many to mention in this short post, but please review them here: Affirming Ministry Requirements. You will notice that the last step listed under the requirements (but, certainly not the last step in an ongoing Affirming Ministry) is to publicly celebrate this ministry.  You are ALL invited to attend this celebration on Sunday evening, April 7 at 7 pm!

AffirmUa

This post is offered in the Care and Comfort of Christ, 

~kim curlett

Minister of Spiritual & Pastoral Care

Practicing What We Preach – Prison Ministry

Jesus said, “…I was in prison and you visited me… Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Excerpts from the gospel of Matthew chapter 25, verses 36 and 40)

image

At Cole Harbour Woodside United Church (CHWUC) we are committed to following the teachings of Jesus Christ and each week this blog will share some of the ways that we are putting our faith into action in our community and in the world. We believe that church should not just be a place where we come on Sunday morning for an hour (or so) and then ignore everything we hear and learn until we are here again the following week. Many of us desire to come to worship each week to realign ourselves with God’s will for our lives. This is hard work in a world that works to pull us away from God’s message of abundance and love and wants to steer us in the way of scarcity and fear. To learn what God’s message might be we turn to scripture.

The Bible tell the stories of our faith and for the stories about the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ whom, as Christians, we claim to follow, we turn to what we call the New Testament. One of the ways that we follow and honour Jesus as the true head of the Church is by practicing what we preach. In the Gospel of Matthew we read that Jesus said, “…I was in prison and you visited me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” To be in right relationship with God is to be in right relationship with all people.

At CHWUC we have an active Prison Ministry Team that works in partnership with other Christian churches in our area to lead a worship service at the The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside Industrial Park in Dartmouth on a rotational schedule. Each team leads a Monday evening service in a 6-week rotation with the support of the onsite Prison Chaplain in the chapel. Joanne Chapman recently adopted the role as chair of the CHWUC team. Joanne shared with me that the worship service that she and the team create and lead is always something she looks forward to. This service is attended by an average of 7 men (at this time the women in the prison do not have access to this service). As one would expect, the worship time includes prayers and a reflection on a theme, but one of the biggest surprises for Joanne is how much they sing! “We sing A LOT,” she says, “like 9 hymns in the hour, they really like to sing!” She says the men have their favourites and come with their requests, which the team feels blessed to honour. Singing lifts the spirits and even when there is only one person brought to worship, the prison ministry team is there to support them. Being in community together is moving for everyone there.

As Joanne and I spoke, I was reminded of the hymn that says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there.” When the team visits and leads worship in that space, the men that attend may be reminded that God is still with them even in their darkest hours and that is what Jesus’ example calls us to do – to bring the light of God with us wherever we go, and to bring it with intention to lift and inspire people when they are feeling low. To be a member of the Prison Ministry Team is a commitment that requires vigorous background checks and training. Jails are not safe spaces and it is a risk for everyone who enters them – visitors and prisoners alike. Those who choose to dedicate themselves to this team are truly practicing what they preach and are working as the hands and feet of Christ in the world.

(Posted by Kim Curlett – Minister of Spiritual and Pastoral Care)

New Blog Coming Soon!

image

I’m writing today to let you know that we have a new way to reach out to our community coming soon! This new blog is dedicated to celebrating all the ways that our church is practicing what we preach. Each week, we will share a post about a group or individual in our congregation who is taking what we learn and remember in worship and study and is putting these things into action in the world. A leader in the Church of England named Christopher Wright says, “It is not so much that the church has a mission, but that God’s mission has a church.” I love this idea and it is one of the inspirations for this blog. We are all called by God to do God’s work (mission) in the world. In the coming weeks and months, we will use this space to share the incredible ways that we are or are seeking to fulfill God’s call to be of service to one another in this world.

We would love to hear from you! Do you have questions about what we preach and how we practice it? Or maybe you would like to share with us one of the ways that you are practicing what you preach so we can share it here. Stay tuned until next Monday when we will kick off our Blog by talking about prison ministry.

Offered n the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ,

~k

Kim Curlett, Minister of Spiritual & Pastoral Care