Christmas 2018 at MWUC
Christmas Eve services capped a busy and soulful Advent and Christmas season at Mill Woods United. At the 7 pm December 24 service, the choir sang an anthem to a full sanctuary and Kim Denis offered a beautiful solo and led the evening with percussion. At the 10 pm service, about 30 people enjoyed carols, candlelight, and communion.
Earlier in December, on the 2nd and the 9th, we had two successful “Giving” or “White Gift” Sundays at which presents were gathered for clients of The Bissell Centre downtown. Thank you to Don Grabinsky for driving a full van from the church to Bissell to drop off all the presents.
When the Mitten Tree was finally taken down on January 5, it was laden with mitts, gloves, scarves and toques that will be most welcome for the clients of our Clothing Bank.
There were the usual engaged crowds for the four Advent Sundays, and a great gathering for carol singing on the 21st (see below).
December 21, Family Christmas singsong
On the Friday evening of the longest night of the year, 55 people gathered in the sanctuary to sing carols, enjoy Christmas treats, and participate in a Christmas Trivia contest. A great time was had by all.
Thanks to Wendy Edey for playing the piano, to Jennifer McPhee for leading us in song, to Rob and Jennifer for organizing the evening and the trivia contest, and to Wendy for telling us a story about “Silent Night” and candle-light at previous Mill Woods United Christmas Eves. A great time was had by all.
December 9, “Indian Horse” screening
On Sunday December 9, 15 people gathered for a screening of the acclaimed 2017 Canadian movie “Indian Horse.” It tells a story of a northern Ontario First Nations boy who suffered at a Indian Residential School in the 1950s and 60s and who became an accomplished hockey player in the 1970s. Elder Evelyn Day led a sharing circle after the screening, which allowed us to process our feelings and thoughts after seeing this sad, difficult, and important movie. Thanks to Nancy Siever and Mary-Anne Janewski, our two witnessess to the Truth and Reconcilation process for organizing this evening.
December 7, “Canadian Wines”
Thirty people came to a fun evening and significant fund-raiser for the church at “Vines” at Rabbit Hill Road and 23rd Ave. It was an educational and fun wine-tasting event on the theme “Canadian Wines for Christmas.” Thank to Rob McPhee for organizing this successful evening.
Christmas Craft Fair — November 24
For the 20th year in a row, the church hosted a successful Christmas Craft Fair. New for this anniversary were a balloon display, popcorn sales and name-tags that honoured long-time participants — such as Lesley Verdin, over 13 years participating. We were excited to use the new TV screens where we featured past crafters, outreach programs and community activities. A big “thank you” to everyone who stepped forward to make this a fabulous event. We’ll also remember it as our first year that we didn’t have a working elevator!
Of course, we always grateful to the Heavenly Hospitality team. You are the ribbon on the gift, so to speak. We raised over $3,200.00 this year through the vendors and including gifts at the door over $900.00.
Carla has been organizing the craft fair for 13 years, Ethel for 11 years, Cathy Bayly for 8 years and Darlene for 4 years. We have loved the challenge of maximizing our space, enticing quality crafters and achieving over 300 shoppers every year. It’s been great fun sharing our time, insights, ideas, and laughs.
We (Carla & Ethel) feel it is time for us to pass the torch and give others the opportunity to spread their wings and be creative. Please contact us if you are interested in beginning a new journey in organizing the Christmas Craft Fair.
Annual Financial Meeting — November 18
Thirty four people stayed after the worship service to attend the Annual Financial Meeting. For a post-meeting Financial Update click on this link — opens a PDF file.
Cribs and Crumpets — November 16
Forty people enjoyed cribbage, goodies and fellowship on the evening of Friday November 16. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this successful evening.
Council Retreat — November 10
On Saturday afternoon, November 10, members of the Church Council met under the facilitation of Joyce Madsen and Clairwoodbury for four hours of sharing and discussion. Look on this website for more information to follow about how this effort, and others that follow, will help all of us to redraft our congregational Vision statement.
October 21 — Newcomer’s lunch
Following the Sunday morning spiritual gathering, nine of us gathered in the Lounge for pizza and conversation. This was a first-ever “Newcomer’s lunch.” Four people who have joined our community of faith and five “veterans” shared what had first drawn us to Mill Woods United and what has motivated us to stay here. It was a great chance to get to know one another better and to share food and friendship. As Cathy Bayly noted, this event will surely become an annual tradition.
FundScrip — $1K and counting!
In September, the team who motivate our FundScrip campaign announced that the first $1,000 cheque has been delivered to Mill Woods United Church because of your participation in this fund-raiser. With FundScrip, church members purchase gift cards for various retailers through its website. MWUC makes money on each purchase — See a graphic of our “thermometer” here
September 16, “Welcome Back” wiener roast
Twenty one hardy souls enjoyed the fire pit, roasted hot dogs, and campfire singing at Jackie Parker Park from 5-7 pm. It was a late summer/early winter gathering as the temperature hovered around 1 degree and rain occasionally leaked out of the clouds. The fire, food, fellowship and singing kept spirits high and a good time was had by young and old. Thanks to the McPhee’s, who organized this.
Summer 2018 “coffee and conversation” Sunday services
In July and August while Ian was away, the Sunday services were led by other members of the congregation. Thanks to everyone who made our summer gatherings a blessing to all who came:
- July 8 — “Little Church in the Wildwood” — Jennifer and Rob McPhee
- July 15 — Wanda Egilsson and Celia Conway on gratitude
- July 22 — Laura Goss and Robin Lane on “Stand by Me”
- July 29 — John and Lindy Mair on the spirituality of pop music
- August 5 — church picnic at Poechman’s cottage on Lake Isle
- August 12 — “Stitching Connections” with Darlene Hayward
- August 19 — “Foregiveness” with Carla Janzen
- August 26 — First Nations spirituality with Evelyn Day, Dave Elliot, and Mary-Anne Janewski
June 10, a service on reconciliation
In the lead up to National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, Evelyn Day, Dave Elliot, and Nancy Siever led us in a service on reconciliation. Bryan LeGrow sang “The Book of Love.”
June 9, Pride Parade 2018!
A small but enthusiastic group of people from MWUC joined the United Church contingent to march down Whyte Avenue in support of LGBTQ2S+ rights. Despite some rain, it was the usual joyous, loud, and very-well attended event. Consider joining us next June!
May 26, A Backyard BBQ
More than 40 people came to to BBQ at the house of John and Lindy Mair. A great time was had by all. Thanks to the Mairs for hosting this event (and for having two BBQs!) and to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing it.
May 12, Spring Craft Fair
Our Sixth Spring Craft Market was another success. Thirty five vendors offered their wares to a steady stream of neighbours on a beautiful and warm spring day. The Plant Sale sold out, and Heavenly Hospitality did a brisk business of snacks and beverages. And now, we look forward to this Fall’s Christmas Craft Fair, which will be on Saturday November 24 (but not before enjoying the rest of this gorgeous spring and what we imagine will be a hot and relaxing summer!).
Celebrating 25 years at 15 Grand Meadow Crescent
On April 22, we marked the 25th anniversary of the first Sunday morning gathering at our current church facilities. Happily, Linda Paddon, the Chairperson of the Building Committee from 1988 to 1994, was visiting Edmonton from Vancouver, and she spoke to the congregation about the project. Below are her remarks:
Good Morning! It is so good to be back among all of you today. You are an exceptional congregation. Ian asked me to speak as part of “This is Us” — about a committee that has not existed since 1994. I hope as I try to tell the story in two minutes or less, (really?!) that I can highlight factors of our identity then that still drive this community today.
We had been meeting in schools since 1974 and always talked about when we would build a church – we, who could barely balance the budget year after year! In the fall of 1988, the minister, Tom Sawyer, and the board chair, Cheryl Brown paid me a visit one Saturday morning. That was how recruitment was done in those days. I thought they wanted someone to lead the stewardship drive so I had my no ready. It turned out they were looking for a building committee chair. I asked, “What does a nurse know about building a church?” Cheryl’s answer “You don’t need to know. You need to be able to organize and delegate. Nurses know how to do that.” I accepted the job and set out to crunch the numbers to prove that financially, a building would never be a possibility. That would put an end forever to the talk of building a church. It didn’t quite work out that way.
So – it’s 25 years since the Sunday morning we moved in here. Hand’s up – Who was here then? These are the people who can tell you the stories. Don Grabinsky and Brian Sampson were on the committee. Ask Brian about climbing the scaffolding to look out the steeple windows. Some of us gathered a cold February morning to watch a crane lift the steeple to the top of the building. The press was there, and they let us take turns sitting in their cars to warm up. The next day this photograph was in a national newspaper.
The day we moved in, we began our service in Hillview school gym and then walked to our new building. I remember it as a morning of clashing of expectations. We had muddy shoes. We would track dirt. One of our youth who had only ever worshipped in a school gym had the nerve to wear his baseball cap in the sanctuary!!
I don’t think there were many of us that really felt we needed a building for Sunday worship. Rather, we were tired of living out of a suitcase. We wanted visibility, meeting space, room for our outreach projects, a place for social activities, our own church for weddings and funerals, somewhere to welcome in the community. It was that desire that drove the fund raising and volunteer efforts as we worked concessions at Commonwealth Stadium and sold frozen croissants. More than 100 volunteers were involved directly in the building project. Recently I was going through stuff and came across a document I wrote in March 95 recapping the project. I brought it today and will leave it for you all to look at.
Ian noted that this was happening along side the upheaval in the United Church over ordination of gays; that we pushed forward when others would have played it safe. This congregation was willing to take the risk and was determined to make it work. Despite financial struggles, just think of all that has happened in this building over 25 years! This is a congregation that looks outward. It has always adapted and moved forward. Sure – the building is nice, and we enjoy sitting here Sunday morning, but the real spirit of Mill Woods United Church is in its people. People who will continue to be good disciples of Jesus where ever they are whatever the future holds.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner — April 21
Thirty-five people gathered at eight different houses of members for a “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” event. Thanks for Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this fun evening and for distributing the guests between the eight hosts. It was an evening of good food, good conversation, and a great chance for members of the church community to get to know one another better.
Making A Difference — April 9-May 7
The photo below is of a display table with items representing some of the many activities and initiatives that occur at Mill Woods United Church. The more than 25 people who came to the April 9 and April 16 evenings of discussions about how our church is trying to make a difference saw this display.
Council chairpersons Rob McPhee and Carla Janzen rganized five Monday evening discussions using a 2013 booklet “Making A Difference” by Joyce Madsen and Clair Woodbury. The first two evenings focused on Purpose and Community. The remaining three focused on Communication, Hospitality, and Leadership.
In all, about 40 people participated in the five evenings. Carla and Rob are confident that the ideas generated, the connections built, and the energy sparked will be helpful as the church Council looks to update our Mission and Vision statements this year. Thanks to them for organizing this successful series and to everyone who came out and participated.
Hot Topics #6, April 19
On Thursday, April 19, five of us participated in the sixth and last in a series devoted to social issues. We gathered in the Lounge to discuss “Cross Purposes: The Battle for Christianity in Canada.” Written by Michael Coren — ex-evangelical, ex-Catholic, current Anglican, and columnist for the United Church “Observer” — this feature article from the March 31, 2018 issue of “The Globe and Mail” looks at attempts by Christian fundamentalists to legislate “morality;”and wonders if spirituality and social justice can unite.
“Cribs and Croissants,” March 16
Forty people gathered around tables on the main floor of the church building on a Friday evening to play cribbage, enjoy tasty treats, and vie for prizes. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this successful evening of fun and fellowship.
Hot Topics #5, March 15
Five of us gathered in the Lounge to discuss nationalism. To spark discussion, we screened a short video from the New York Times website (“How Nations Make Up National Identities”), watched an excerpt from a new Netflix cooking series called “Ugly Delicious” about the U.S./Mexican border and its impact on the restaurant industry and on people’s lives (this is episode #2 on Tacos!), and referred to a provocative opinion piece from The Atlantic Monthly magazine called “The Case for Getting Rid of Borders—Completely.” Some heat and light was generated!
Future sessions will occur on April 19 and May 17.
Annual General Meeting, March 11
Forty people stayed after the Sunday worship service to participate in the Annual General Meeting of Mill Woods United Church. Rob McPhee chaired the meeting, outgoing chairpersons Kathy Poechman and Carla Janzen presented a “year-in-review” report, Randy Round presented the 2017 Financials and 2018 Budget in an amusing and informative way, a new Council was elected, refreshments provided by Heavenly Hospitality were served, and everyone enjoyed the upbeat and positive tone of the meeting. For more details, please read the 2017 Annual Report.
Two fond farewells
On Wednesday, February 28, a steady stream of well-wishers came to the church to say congratulations to Janice Martin on her retirement and to thank her for more than 26 years of faithful service as the Church Office Administrator on her final day of work. Cake, cards, and good memories abounded.
Wednesday was also the final day for our Social Media and Marketing Coordinator, Paula Kirman, after almost two years with Mill Woods United. On Sunday February 25, Council Co-Chairperson Lindy Mair made a presentation to the Sunday morning gathering on the poetry, music, paintings, and activism of Paula. She thanked Paula for her service to the congregation and wished her well on future endeavours.
Blessings to both of you.
February 18, 2018 — a World Premiere!
On the first Sunday in Lent, the choir sang a world premiere of a composition by our own Bryan LeGrow, which featured Bryan singing a solo. It was met with a standing ovation! Listen here on Facebook
The tune and words came to Bryan from his friend Nelson, who sang a postlude at our 40th Anniversary service on November 20, 2016. Bryan composed a choral and piano accompaniment, and the end result was very well received.
Thanks and congratulations, Bryan!
February 13, Pancake Tuesday
A large group of people gathered in the Lower Hall from 5 to 6:30 pm to enjoy pancakes, ham, fruit, and conversation, and a chance mark the end of the Season after the Epiphany. This year, Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent, was on February 14. So our church honoured the tradition of Mardi Gras/Carnival/Pancake and Shrove Tuesday with a sweet feast on the evening before the 14th. Thanks to members of the Collective Kitchen and Heavenly Hospitality for organizing and preparing this dinner.
January 27, Mill Woods Resource Fair
Dave Elliot and Ian Kellogg staffed an information table about the church at the Mill Woods Resource Fair, which was hosted by MLA Christina Gray at the Mill Woods Seniors Centre. We distributed flyers about our many programs and chatted with interested people.
January 20, “From TIFF to Cannes”
About 30 people attended a screening of “The Post” at South Edmonton Common and then repaired to the McPhee’s house for savoury and sweet snacks and conversation. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer for another successful social event.
January 18, “Hot Topics” #3
Six of us gathered in the Lounge to watch two short excerpts from Michael Moore’s 2015 film “Where to Invade Next.” The first examines Portugal’s experience with decriminalizing all recreational drugs since 2000. The second is about the liberal prison system in Norway. We enjoyed a lively discussion about both topics.