STUFFING BACK TO SCHOOL BACK PACKS!! In time for 06 August 2019

STUFFING BACK TO SCHOOL BACK PACKS!! Looking for any assistance with school supplies for stuffing back packs. Through Feed NS we will be receiving the back packs as donations but the previous supporter for the contents is no longer able to help out so looking for your help…please share with anyone you might know who can as well.

Items include: non-toxic markers erasable for white boards, non-toxic coloured marker, crayons coloured pencils, highlighters, pencils and erasers, pens, ruler, glue or glue sticks, exercise books or scribblers, notebooks, duo-tangs or small 3-ring binder, paper, scissors, tape, earbuds (dollar store).
(please donate by 06 August to the office at CHWUC)

THANK YOU!!!

school supplies

21 July 10am Shining Lights Choir

21 July 10am Pride Celebration Service 

Join us as we host very special guests, Shining Lights Choir!

Over 20 years ago, the Shining Lights Choir grew out of conversations with participants at Welcome Housing’s Centre. Staff members had just returned from a Montreal conference on homelessness where they were introduced to a street choir. Our participants enthusiastically embraced the idea of singing in a choir as they fondly remembered singing in church choirs or camps in their youth.

David McDow, a tenant and the choir’s first director, wrote several songs addressing issues of addictions, poverty and homelessness. All these years later, the choir has performed at hundreds of venues including the annual Homelessness Memorial, dozens of churches, special events, celebrations and memorials. The choir has been featured on CTV’s Live at Five, CBC’s The National, CBC Nova Scotia’s 6 o’clock news, CBC Radio and The Chronicle Herald.

This Spring, the Shining Lights Choir will be celebrating their 20th anniversary.

https://www.welcomehousing.ca/shining-lights-choir

21 July 2019 Pride Celebration

Spiritual Outreach

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June 26, 2019

This is the last week of our blog series about ways to connect our church with the wider community. Today is thinks about how to “Connect spiritual outreach to community service.” These posts are inspired by the work of Robert Crossman, Ann A. Michel, Kim Mitchel, and Lovett H. Weems, Jr., as found in the article https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-take-church-to-the-community/from the Lewis Centre for Christian Leadership.

I hope you have appreciated these 50 ideas. This section has the last 8 ideas to consider. I wonder how we might think about this in our context here at CHWUC. Please know that I would be thrilled to talk about any of these ideas in this series with any of you anytime while I am still working at the minister of Spiritual Care here. The thought from the original article appears in blue, with my commentary underneath as it applies to us in our context at CHWUC.

This last set of ideas are actually a very insightful set of questions for any church serious about engaging church and community in relationship to consider. I strongly urge a working group to begin thinking about these things if we are truly serious about community engagement as a goal!

Connect spiritual outreach to community service

This is true. It is important to acknowledge that those that come to our food bank likely do not have any other connection to our church. Before Step 44. it matters that we reflect what that means about our outreach.

Step 44. Ask if these ministries inadvertently convey an “us and them” attitude or communicate that “you are not worthy of joining us.”

Another important consideration as we go forward. Do we really consider people that do not come to Sunday morning worship, yet enter our building in another way during the week a part of our community. How often have you heard (or maybe even said yourself), “Gee, when was the last time we saw them darken the doors of the church?” and only mean on Sunday morning? In what ways do we see those that may be in this space as much as we are as “the other” – are we truly interested in changing that? If so, then how?

Step 45. Identify aspects of church life, such as characteristics of the building or how people dress, that may make some feel unwelcome. Are there alternatives that may reduce barriers for some to enter?

This church has already done a good job of creating a welcoming space in the sanctuary. What other ways would help others feel welcome? How do we help others engage in worship with us? Are we welcoming when new people arrive? Do we ensure that we take time to say hello if we don’t recognize the person beside us?

Step 46. Treat everyone as a person of dignity who deserves respect.

You would think this is a no-brainer, but it is not and it is really important that we work to remember this always.

Step 47. Extend genuine hospitality to those you serve.

What is genuine hospitality? This is the real work here. What do we mean when we say we practice hospitality? How can we extend genuine hospitality if we don’t even know what we mean when we say it?

Step 48. Focus first on building relationships of understanding and trust.

Finally, we have to WANT to build these kinds of relationship for them to happen, they will not happen organically.

These last two points are for the matter of group discussion.

Step 49. Consider adding a spiritual or discipleship element to community service activities but without any sense of expectation or requirement. For example, have a service or study following ESL classes for any interested.

Step 50. Seek to conduct each activity in a way that connects people to God and the church.

Thanks for joining me these last 9 week to consider these points. This is also my last official day in the office. I hope you will take these 9 blogposts as my recommendations for this community of faith as you work to live into your desire to engage with the wider community. This is not the work of one person, but the work of a whole community. Christ has called all of us to be disciples and that is what we have been talking to here: Discipleship.

Your in the Peace and Love of Jesus Christ,
Rev. Kim Curlett

Minister of Spiritual Care

pwwpchwuc

Beyond Church Walls

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June 19, 2019

Today we consider what it might mean to “Extend your congregation’s spiritual presence beyond church walls.”This is week 8 in our 9 week blog series about ways to connect our church with the wider community. These posts are inspired by the work of Robert Crossman, Ann A. Michel, Kim Mitchel, and Lovett H. Weems, Jr., as found in the article https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-take-church-to-the-community/from the Lewis Centre for Christian Leadership.

This section has 8 ideas to consider. I wonder how we might think about this in our context here at CHWUC. The thought from the original article appears in blue, with my commentary underneath as it applies to us in our context at CHWUC.

Extend your congregation’s spiritual presence beyond church walls

Step 35. Recognize that many “unchurched” people are spiritually inclined but apprehensive about attending church because they feel unwelcome, distrust institutions, or have been hurt in the past.

My grad project at Atlantic School of Theology addresses folks who identify as Spiritual-but-not-Religious in the United Church. My research concludes that The United Church of Canada can be and is (in many cases) a welcoming community for people that are seeking spiritual community, but not interested in subscribing to a particular doctrine. We have doctrine in The United Church of Canada, but the great thing is that we don’t require our members to claim belief in any particular statements of faith to be a part of our communities of faith. If you are interested in my presentation about this subject please visit this link: https://youtu.be/2-WMg6Jr9CE

Step 36. Pay attention to the heightened receptiveness to spiritual engagement around religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas.

We all know that many people who might claim our church as their church only attend worship at Christmas and sometimes Easter. But, here’s the thing, they do still come. There is something about coming here that matters to them and is a part of their own spiritual traditions around these holidays. This is STILL spiritual engagement and such a beautiful time to connect with people who are seeking something by coming here. Imagine what it would be like if they experienced something meaningful and relevant in worship, but also receive a warm welcome from others, and an intentional invitation to future opportunities for spiritual engagement.

Step 37. Offer offsite worship services on special days, such as Christmas Eve, Palm Sunday, and Easter. Select familiar venues where people feel comfortable — parks, restaurants, parking lots, coffee houses.

Now this is a novel idea! What would it look like to offer opportunities for spiritual engagement and worship IN THE COMMUNITY instead of expecting the community to come to us. And this does not mean that we don’t also have worship in the church, but it is about expanding our notions of what worship is and where it has to happen. What would a Christmas Eve service look like at Shubie Park? Or a Palm Sunday parade/hike on the Salt Marsh Trail? We already do a sunrise service on Easter Sunday morning, but how do we really promote this in the community?

Step 38. Offer imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday in public places.

I know for a fact that some of our Anglican Colleagues in HRM did this this past Ash Wednesday and it was well shared on Social Media. This is a very public opportunity to connect with people and something seriously worth considering as you think about engaging the community at large going forward.

Step 39. Partner with other institutions (such as nursing homes, hospitals, or prisons) or commercial establishments (restaurants, bars, shopping centers, or sports facilities) to offer worship services to their constituents or clientele on special days.

This is one area where we are working in the community already. We have a relationship with local nursing homes and have meetings in public places like pubs. The meetings are for us, have we considered how to more publicly invite others to join us for worship in public places like a pub or a pizza joint? It would be an interesting experiment to see who might be interested in sharing in a worship time in these public places!

Step 40. Plan creative outdoor events, such as live nativities or “blessing of the animals” services, to help make your church visibly present to the community in creative ways.

This past Christmas this was done in Windsor, NS and it was a sold out event. People drove from all over the province to attend the live nativity. Is there a way that we could be involved with Cole Harbour Heritage Farm for something like that? Imagine the possibilities

Step 41. Hold your Vacation Bible School in a local park or recreation center. Canvas nearby neighborhoods to invite families.

Have we considered this idea? Of all the ideas that we have considered in this set, I’m not as convinced by this one. We also have to consider that the building that we do have is a great resource and not far out of the community centre. We have an excellent space for Vacation Bible School here. The work then is to make sure we are able to inform and invite our community to it, and like our intention with worship and spiritual engagement opportunities, make it meaningful and relevant to the kids and families that take part.

Step 42. Reach out to local media. Community outreach is often newsworthy, and reporters are often looking for religiously themed stories around the holidays.

This. This. And all of this. Sometimes as church folks we have been shy about letting others know what is happening because we are so afraid of being “that kind of Christian” that brags about church and has a conversion agenda. As a result, our willingness to share the great news about what our church is about and what it is doing in the community is sometimes the best kept secret. Churches that preach hate and division get a lot of attention and it is high time that those of us that are actually practicing what we preach and striving to love our neighbours like Jesus taught us get BOLD and LOUD and share so others come to know God and God’s love through our good work. The God that people see in the media is so often one of fear, shame, and judgement and those of us who know better need to shout that from the rooftops. Let’s let Love speak louder than Hate!

In the Peace and Love of Christ,

~Kim Curlett

Minister of Spiritual Care

pwwpchwuc

Reaching Out

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For the second post today, we consider what it might mean to “reach out through community events”. This is week 7 in our 9 week blog series about ways to connect our church with the wider community. These posts are inspired by the work of Robert Crossman, Ann A. Michel, Kim Mitchel, and Lovett H. Weems, Jr., as found in the article https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-take-church-to-the-community/from the Lewis Centre for Christian Leadership.

This section has 9 ideas to consider. I wonder how we might think about this in our context here at CHWUC. Please know that I would be thrilled to talk about any of these ideas in this series with any of you anytime while I am still working at the minister of Spiritual Care here. The thought from the original article appears in blue, with my commentary underneath as it applies to us in our context at CHWUC.

Reach out through community events”

Step 26. Plan “bridge events” designed explicitly to draw people from the community by providing for them something they need or enjoy — block parties, free concerts, seasonal events, parenting classes, sports camps, or school supply giveaways, etc. Source: Get Their Name by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson, and Kay Kotan (Abingdon Press, 2013)

We have a huge parking lot on the corner of a very busy road! There is so much we could do in this space! We also have access to the wonderful Salt Marsh Trails and Rainbow Haven Beach so very close by. How exciting would it be to host something like a free family fun day complete with games, those blow-up castles etc., and a BBQ. And what about a Free Concert with some great local talent outside? I strongly recommend the book listed above as a resource to get started on as any group starts to think about ideas like this. This kind of annual event can become a cornerstone to building the church’s involvement in the community.

Step 27. Hold these events off church property or outside the church walls in venues where people feel comfortable and naturally congregate.

See above – with the beach and the trail close by we have lots of options. It’s great to host stuff in places where others feel most comfortable. Sometimes we think we have to host everything inside the church, but sometimes that is a barrier for folks who have never been inside a church or were hurt last time they were in one. Coming into our home may make them uncomfortable, but meeting us on common ground may provide just the welcoming atmosphere required for developing relationship!

Step 28. Get the word out through a well-planned publicity campaign.

In this age, there is no reason for people not to know about anything through word of mouth and social media. While it is true that not everyone has a computer, it is true that everyone knows someone who does. Sharing news about events and celebrations that our church is hosting is the NUMBER ONE FREE way to let people know about us. Another way is through inviting the media to know about what we are up to and what interesting and innovating things we may be doing – if we are doing them. In this age of bad news stories, there are plenty of outlets looking to report some good news!

Step 29. Encourage church members to invite their friends and neighbors. It is less threatening for them to invite someone to a community event than to worship.

Too many of us are shy or even ashamed to share, but if we want our church communities to be meaningful and relevant to the community around us then we have to be bold in sharing what we are up to. Sometimes our church lives are our best kept secret. Ask yourself, “why would anyone want to be a part of something you’d rather not talk about”? Start sharing and intentionally inviting people to YOUR church!

Step 30. Avoid explicitly religious themes: no preaching, prayers, pressure, or financial appeals that might turn people off or reinforce negative stereotypes about church.

Reaching out into the community is about the community, not about the church. This is an opportunity to PRACTICE WHAT WE PREACH, not an opportunity to preach. If folks feel inspired to take part in worship after we show them love then that is up to them and the Holy Spirit. But, the true nature of this work is about reaching out and loving our neighbour as Jesus commanded us to do.

Step 31. Remember, the event itself is not the purpose. The purpose is to meet people where they are and build relationships. Mingle. Get to know people.

I have seen this before. Church folks plan an event and invite the community and the community comes and the church folks are too busy in the background or talking to each other to engage those they invited. We have to start thinking about church as our house. Imagine inviting people into your home and never engaging them in conversation, but staying in the kitchen the whole time and just hoping they enjoy the food? That’s no fun for anyone and certainly doesn’t build relationships. We are called to be braver than that. It’s time to make some new friends!

Step 32. Have a well-trained hospitality team. Make sure guests are enjoying themselves and know their attendance is appreciated.

Let’s say that again, “a well-trained hospitality team” – some call this a “welcome committee” – whatever you call it, it matters. Taking the time to train people to be intentional with our welcome and ensuring guests’ needs are being met makes it even easier for those not “working” on the team to engage more casually. This team can help wrangle the other church folks in attendance too and encourage them to engage with our guests!

Step 33. Gathering people’s names and information about them will permit follow up to those for whom it is appropriate.

Having someone walking around asking if folks would like to be on our mailing list is so easy. It’s an invitation not a requirement. Such a clipboard should not be at the entrance on a table as if it is an expectation or part of registration. Someone friendly who mingles and asks is more welcoming and more in line with what this is about. It can’t be pushy. It’s about a way to stay connected, not sell anything to anyone. The person collecting these contacts should also have a card (or better yet, a magnet) with the church’s contact information to hand out to everyone they talk to.

Step 34. Invite those who attend community events to another event — sometimes called a “hand off event” — planned to draw them into a deeper relationship.

This is a really important thing to consider when planning community events. All events should include follow-up ideas and dreams for what’s next so that those who attend can get excited about coming to the next thing! Never think of events as one-offs or “ifthis one works out we will tryso-and-so”. Always have a plan with the assumption that your event will be a success. Never plan for your event to fail! It might, but a positive attitude is never wasted.

Next week’s post is considering ideas to “Extend your congregation’s spiritual presence beyond church walls”.Until then, get talking to each other about this stuff. If you’ve read this, share it with someone at church and get a conversation going.

Offered in the Peace of Christ,

Rev. Kim Curlett

Minister of Spiritual Care

pwwpchwuc

Looking out

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June 5, 2019

This is the first of two posts today (June 12, 2019). Last week I was working from home as I wasn’t feeling well and somehow failed to post this!

As we continue to work our way through 50 ways to connect our church with the wider community, we turn to thinking about what it means to “Turn Your Existing Ministries Outward”. These posts are inspired by the work of Robert Crossman, Ann A. Michel, Kim Mitchel, and Lovett H. Weems, Jr., as found in the article https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-take-church-to-the-community/from the Lewis Centre for Christian Leadership.

So, let’s consider the following three ideas (The thought from the original article appears in blue, with my commentary underneath as it applies to us in our context at CHWUC).

“Turn your existing ministries outward”

Step 23. Challenge each church group with an inside focus to find a way to become involved with the community outside the church. A choir might sing at a nursing home, or trustees could sponsor a neighborhood clean-up.

Consider, what activity outside the church walls would best align with my church group’s passions and work to serve some need in the community? I love the two ideas above, but what other ideas could the groups at CHWUC come up with beyond these two? Do you have an idea you would like to share? Be brave – start something!

Step 24. Extend recruiting and advertising for church groups and events to audiences beyond your congregation. For example, recruit for choir members in a local paper or community list serve.

Great example! – we have a wonderful choir at this church with an amazing director and world class accompaniment. Have we advertised for new choir members beyond our walls? What other wonderful groups do we have happening here that we might want to invite others to outside of Sunday morning?

Step 25. Build relationships with those taking part in existing programs that serve the community, such as ESL classes, food pantry or clothes bank users, daycare families, etc.

We have a few things that run in this space that are not “church” activities. Have we engaged parents from the daycare or families from the guiding programs? Or what about the folks that come to our food bank? Have we intentionally engaged in conversation with those folks about how we might be in relationship with each other in new and mutually beneficial ways?

Lots to think about in these three short steps. Check out the next post that engages us in thinking about “Reach out through community events”. It is a much longer section and I think are really valuable steps to taking this kind of work to the next level!

Until then, get talking to each other about this stuff. If you’ve read this, share it with someone at church and get a conversation going.

Offered in the Peace of Christ,

Rev. Kim Curlett

Minister of Spiritual Care

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