Advent and Christmas 2020
As always, the four Sundays in Advent focused on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. But because of the pandemic, things were different in 2020. Starting on December 13, we paused the in-person component and exclusively livestreamed the Sunday gatherings.
Renee Englot added a nice touch an online Advent Calendar. Thanks Renee!
We postponed a planned December 21 Family Christmas Time Gathering to 2021. We bet that 2021 will be a better and safer year for the joyous group singing, storytelling and eating together that has been the hallmark of our past Christmas gatherings. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to December 2021 when once again we can all come together, sing, share stories, and enjoy Christmas goodies together. Thank you. Wendy Edey, Jennifer McPhee, Rob McPhee
Because of Alberta government regulations, we also postponed a planned 4:30 pm outdoor Christmas Eve service until 2021.
At 7 pm on Thursday December 24, we livestreamed a service carols, stories, and and candle light.
Advent and Christmas felt like a blessing again this year despite the pandemic restrictions. Here’s to a magnificent celebration in 2021!
November 29, Annual Financial Meeting
A big thank you to the 30 plus people who joined us on Zoom for our Annual Financial Meeting. Following a review of financial actions taken over the past year and an update on finances thus far in 2020, the proposed 2021 budget was approved. Your ongoing support is so very much appreciated.
November 27 — “Bottles and Boards”
Thanks to the 30 people who joined via Zoom for our Boards and Bottles event on Friday November 27. It was wonderful seeing so many people and having time to enjoy conversation, the two wines, and the amazing variety of charcuterie boards. And … we raised $2,000 for Mill Woods United Church. Thanks everyone
November 14, An Evening in Colombia
Sixty-five people from Edmonton, across Canada and throughout the America’s gathered on Zoom on a Saturday evening to enjoy a presentation on Colombia. It was prepared and led by Audrey Murray and Brian Hudson, Jennifer and Rob McPhee, and Olga Garcia and Francisco Rico. They showed photos and videos, and told stories of a trip they had made to Colombia last December and January. One of the many highlights was video of traditional Colombian dancing and salsa by the church’s “Colombian connection” — Olga and Francisco, and Lilian Angel and David. A huge thank you goes to all those named above as as well as to Brian Sampson for videotaping the dancers. Viva Colombia!
October 14 and 21 — Regional AGM
Rev. Ian Kellogg, Wendy MacNutt, and Anita Piebiak represented Mill Woods United at the second annual general meeting of the United Church of Canada’s Northern Spirit Regional Council via Zoom over two Thursday evenings in October. There was one vote — to approve expanding the language of the UCC’s Basis of Union (constitution) to be inclusive of gender diverse people — which passed unanimously. The meeting was to have been held in person in June in Camrose, but was postponed and conducted over Zoom because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oct 2-4, 2020 — Expressing Wonder
Five people from Mill Woods United — Ian, Ethel, Wendy M, Laine, and Barb — were among the nearly 100 participants in an online Zoom conference on anti-racism. Sponsored by Spiritual Seekers United in Community–Saskatoon, and with a subtitle of “Looking at the world with eyes wide open,” it included keynote addresses from a Somali refugee and a retired First Nations police officer from Saskatoon. Thanks to the Memorial Fund for subsidizing the registration cost for this inspiring and informative conference.
Sept 10, 2020 — Shock and positive change
Four of us gathered on Zoom to watch at 15-minute “Ted Talk” recorded by Canadian activist Naomi Klein in 2017 called “How shocking events can spark positive change.” We then spent an hour discussing Klein’s ideas and our reactions.
September 2020 — cracking open the doors
On September 6, 2020, we opened the doors for a public Sunday spiritual gathering for the first time since March 15. Thanks to everyone who made this possible, and especially to Brian Sampson who continues to lead us in livestreaming our gatherings via Facebook. Most of us are choosing to stay at home for now, but 17 people came to this first combined service.
Other things are re-opening in September — Tuesday Food Bank depot and Clothing Bank (by appointment only — 780-463-2202), The Bread Run, and yoga. Other in-person gatherings will follow, we are sure. But much depends on how the pandemic evolves in Edmonton.
Despite this partial return to “normal,” much of our programming remains online. On September 9, we held our first mid-week virtual Coffee Hour via Zoom, and 10 people logged on. Future offerings will be promoted under the Upcoming Events menu on each webpage.
Farewell to Laura Webster
In July, our long-time custodian, Laura Webster, resigned from the position after 12 years. We wish her well in her future endeavors and say a fond goodbye with thanks for her knowledge, dedication, and reliability.
A new custodian, Bruce McCarron, began work on September 1, 2020.
COVID-19 led to a closure of the church facility on March 16 and a spring that included online-only services (see “Recent Spiritual Gatherings” for details). This practice continued in the summer. But we started to supplement livestreamed Sunday gatherings with in-person attendance on September 6.
“Treaty Walk” discussion
On the evening of June 18, seven of us gathered on Zoom to discuss the recently released video “Treaty Walk: a Journey to Common Ground.” The video documents a walk last June from Edmonton to Calgary of a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians as a way to raise awareness of the blessings that flow when we remember that all of us are Treaty people. Thanks to Mary-Anne Janewski for promoting this wonderful new video and for facilitating a lively and inspiring time of sharing.
March 17, Response to COVID-19
A working group met on March 17 and decided to suspend all gatherings and most activities of MWUC because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, click on the link COVID-19 and MWUC, which is available from every page on this website
March 8, Annual General Meeting
At noon on Sunday March 8, more than 30 people stayed in the sanctuary after the spiritual gathering to participate in the Annual General Meeting of Mill Woods United Church. Chair-Elect Carol Hickmann and Past Chair Carla Janzen presented a year-in-review report. Randy Round led us on a roller-coaster ride of a financial report. And a new Council was elected. Thanks to all who prepared and participated in making this a successful AGM.
March 1, Young Adults Lunch
After the Sunday morning spiritual gathering, 11 young adults and eight children gathered in the Lower Hall with five “oldsters” for lunch and a time of sharing. The lunch was designed to let us get to know one another better and to learn what needs younger members might have including what those with children were hoping the church could provide. Thanks to the Future Steps Team for organizing this lunch.
February 22, “Movie Madness”
About 30 people from MWUC gathered at the Cineplex in South Edmonton Common on the evening of February 22. Some people saw “Call of the Wild,” others “1917,” and still others “Parasite.” Afterward, we reconvened at Rob and Jennifer McPhee’s house for snacks and conversation. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer for another successful and enjoyable Saturday evening.
January 26, joint worship with ZUMC
We joined with our Zimbabwean friends for worship and a simple lunch catered by The Congregational Care Team. Ian reflected on God’s call based on a reading of Matthew 4:12-23 in which Jesus calls his first followers (“Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?“). The choir sang “There Is No One Like Jesus,” In addition, Amber Petch gifted the congregation with a beautiful drawing of the church building. It now hangs outside of the Lounge on the main floor
Mill Woods Resource Fair, January 18
For the fifth year in a row, Mill Woods United was represented at an annual Mill Woods Resource Fair. Karl Kropf, Darlene Hayward, and Ian Kellogg staffed a table at which we talked to people about our outreach projects and our inclusive and expansive spiritual community.
The Fair is organized by Edmonton-Mill Woods MLA Christina Gray. As in past years, it was held on a Saturday morning and afternoon on the second floor of the Mill Woods Library Building on Hewes Way. About fifty tables were present representing local organizations involved with health, education, immigration services, and other social services.