2015 Highlights

This space reports on how people at Mill Woods United worked together in 2019 to nurture our spiritual community and create space in which we explore purpose and place. For future activities see Upcoming Events. Highlights from 2020, 2019, 20182017,and 2016, are just a click away.

Christmas Craft Fair 2015 edition!

On Saturday November 28, a large group of dedicated volunteers once again hosted a successful craft fair. All potential tables were rented. Large crowds showed up. Heavenly Hospitality made more than $800 by selling a delicious lunch. We served our neighbourhood while raising a lot of money for the operation of our church. Thanks to everyone who organized the day and helped run it, especially to Ethel Ray and Carla Janzen

Fabulous Fall Frolic Fundraiser!

On Saturday October 24, 2015, we frolicked the night away!

After three months of planning, a chaotic afternoon of set up and decorating, an awesome party with 130 people and an hour to restore the church to normal, we finally set the alarm at 11:59 pm and locked the door.  And in the end, we raised over $7,000 from our Fabulous Fall Frolic Fundraiser!!!

From the beautiful baroque music by Opus at 12 to the hilarity of improv by Go4Broke, the evening was an amazing success due to to collective efforts of so many!  A huge thank you to everyone who sold tickets, donated items, set up and decorated, tended bar, bought stuff, took part in games and cleaned up after it all.

It is impossible to list everyone who helped out, but you know who you are, and we are so very grateful for all your enthusiasm, time and gifts.  We want to extend a special thank you to Laverne Boswell for giving us the idea in the first place; to Lynda Colgan who supervised the kitchen and assisted Chef Eric Hanson; and to A.J. and Andrew Janewski and Juan and Francisco Rico Jr. for doing a classy job of serving food to all of us.  Yeah Mill Woods United Church! — from your #FabFrolic Committee


Time, Talents & Treasures Event

On Sunday September 20, we hosted our first ever “Time Talent and Treasure” Event!  It was a smashing success!  Not only did we have some fun and discover something about each other, we raised close to $700!!!  And we even raised $25.00 for Don Grabinsky NOT to sing for us!

Thank you so much to all who helped organize, set up, clean up and especially those who donated and purchased auction items!  Special “Woot! Woot!” to Tim and Mary-Anne Janewski for set up Saturday evening, to the youth for the popcorn sales and to Lady Flower Garden for pumpkins and flowers for decorations. Could not have done it without everyone’s participation and enthusiasm!!!  – Nancy Siever

“Facing the Future” discussions, July-August 2015

At our Sunday gatherings this summer, we discussed issues raised by the “Facing the Future” (FTF) group. FTF  looks for ways to help Mill Woods United sustain itself in a rapidly changing culture. Below are notes from seven Sundays of discussion . . .

August 30 — wrap-up discussion

  • see sermon, “What so good about death?!”
  • “we just have to keep the faith and keep working away”
  • “we are becoming a service-focused church
  • use of communications technology can help MWUC members who have moved away stay in touch and continue to contribute — audio/video/text/etc.
  • we should be “loud and proud” about what our denomination and congregation have done and are doing
  • church is more than a building. A visitor talked about how her small town in Saskatchewan sold their church building (it is now a private family dwelling). They now worship in the community hall

August 23 — use of digital communications technology

  • see sermon, Draw it wider still . . .
  • services with uplifting music, a buoyant style, &/or an exciting feel are likely part of what is attracting younger people to some of the fundamentalist churches. In spite of our more progressive theology, we likely come across as quiet and reserved
  • it appears that a more traditional message wrapped in a modern package is getting traction at other churches
    We may be progressive in our theology,  but we have not been nearly as progressive in our presentation
  • on the same Sunday we are discussing use of electronic media, we are singing a hymn from 1828.  Which of our traditions/practices are an asset and which are a liability when it comes to attracting a younger demographic?
  • multimedia is being widely used in classrooms.  What about using  more multimedia in church school?
  • we are successfully using electronic media in a number of ways such as: What’s the buzz, Morning Messenger, e-mail reminders of Men’s Breakfast.  How do we leverage these wins going forward?
  • on-line conversations could be a possible alternative to traditional worship
  • broadcasting our Sunday morning services to Laurel Heights Retirement Residence on days when Ian isn’t there could be a great way to expand our virtual presence.

August 16 — how we work with other United Church congregations in Edmonton

  • see sermon, “Waiting for Kairos
  • the merger of congregations can result in a lot of hurting/grieving people
  • we at MWUC need to be sensitive to the pain felt by people from closed congregations who may find their way to us
  • we get value from the personal relationships our members have with individuals in other congregations. For example some from MWUC have shared in projects with people from Trinity UC.  This is an opportunity that should be nurtured
  • we are quite different from the congregations along Whyte Avenue that are discussing mergers
  • when a congregation ceases to exist, some members simply stop going to church
  • we are geographically separate from other United Churches
  • as the only United Church in Mill Woods, there is no gain in moving to a congregation to the north
  • amalgamation is more hopeful than simply closing

August 09 — Should MWUC disband (the short answer, “no!”)

  • see sermon “Bursting at the seams
  • church is not an event needing a building, but a mission
  • we have to change with the times – i.e. everyone has a smartphone and perhaps we should incorporate an app for more interaction- i.e. text questions during service
  • mindset of United Church is focused on decreasing numbers and the possibility of disbanding – if mindset is predetermined the energy is centred on that premise
  • energy is spent to avoid disbanding but mindset is to “accept” decline
  • we need to spend time not only on new members but also on energizing the existing members
  • need to explore ways to move forward and recognize that society, community, family and church are changing
  • need to find out what the community needs/wants and integrate more and provide these services
  • need new ways to bring children to church: e.g. use teacher development days as church day camps
  • find ways to incorporate new and old together to form a “post-modern tapestry
  • church brings people together, and this need grows stronger as we get older
  • church family is often a stand in/replacement for family providing the missing companionship

July 26 — Alternate days and times for worship services?

  • when the time of summer worship was changed in the past, many people struggled to remember
  • people are busy and time is precious
  • perhaps a Sunday Sabbath no longer fits with our lifestyle
  • Sunday just feels right
  • Sunday morning services don’t hold the significance they once did
  • giving up the prime Sunday morning time slot could allow us to increase our rental revenue from the building
  • gathering together to worship is what is most meaningful
  • we used to have a 9 am Sunday morning worship that embraced a wide range of worship styles
  • it is important that our worship service be regularly scheduled to allow people to make plans
  • visitors expect to find us gathering on Sunday mornings
  • public transportation can be difficult on Sundays
  • informal worship opportunities are good – such as drop in times for the Labyrinth and book study
  • could we partner with service groups such as Rotary, Lions, etc, to fund programs like The Bread Run?
  • offer space to community groups who might need a facility to run programs in our area
  • discontinue church school and put staff resources into children’s programs during school holidays – a way of helping parents with childcare

July 19 — Relating to the intercultural reality of Mill Woods

  • few other faiths are aligned to the United Church and we may have difficulty finding common ground
  • new immigrants seek community. If they are Catholic, or Pentecostal, or Muslim, or Sikh, they have options here . . . the United Church isn’t a likely target.
  • most of us at MWUC came looking for community.  Maybe the answer is to figure out who might look for a community like ours
  • Were we once approached by a Korean congregation to consider a partnership?  [does anyone know this history? — IK]
  • we mourn the loss of young families with children, and we hope that if we keep doing what worked in the past that this trend will change . . .
  • some of United congregations along Whyte Avenue (Knox Metropolitan, Ritchie, Pleasantview, Avonmore) have been discussing how to work together.  Should we join similar discussions.  “Are we closing our eyes to reality?”

July 12 — How can we work more closely with other “mainline” Protestant churches in Mill Woods (Anglican, Lutheran, Moravian, Presbyterian . . . )?

  • we already share to some degree now — Bread Run and Make Tax Time Pay; maybe we can build on that.
  • would others want to even talk to us?
  • the minister will need approach other clergy
  • would we be willing to share our building on an equal basis?
  • are we willing to go into an equal partnership for worship and programs?
  • “I really don’t know. I have never attended another denomination’s services.”
  • are we trying to maintain our own tradition or are we trying to be open to what might change?
  • not much to gain by putting energy into this idea; better to focus on becoming better known in the community and to let what we do show who we are.
  • in the past, two denominations sharing one minister was common
  • perhaps our progressiveness is related to the decline in our numbers?

Anniversary Sunday — June 7, 2015

On Sunday June 7, we marked the 90th anniversary of the United Church of Canada and the (almost) 40th anniversary of Mill Woods United. To celebrate, the church was alive with the sound of music – our choir sang for the last time before the summer break and young musician Sadie Englot provided our offertory music on the piano. As part of the celebration, we accepted a gift from Harry Lange — a matchstick model of Notre Dame de Paris that he and his friend Jeff had made. Harry and Anne were charter members of Mill Woods in 1976, and so it seemed fitting to accept his wonderful gift as part of our service. The youth presented, in a unique way, the 272 pairs of clean, new socks/underwear that were collected for the Bissell Centre. Following the numerous rounds of applause from the appreciative congregation we enjoyed eating a delicious anniversary cake during our fellowship hour. Thanks to everyone who participated in this amazing service.

Pride Parade – June 6, 2015
A contingent of  folk from Mill Woods United Church, along with our always game minister Ian Kellogg, joined forces with some of the Youth Understanding Youth group that meets at our church and walked in this year’s Pride Parade. All participating United Churches from Edmonton and area walked together in a group of about 40. It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed the sunshine and the rainbow crosswalks.

 Annual General Meeting
On May 24, 30 people stayed after church for 90 minutes to help conduct the business of the church at our Annual General Meeting.

On behalf of the Facing the Future group, Laine Pickle led a discussion on the church’s future under our “four pillars:”

  • Connecting people
  • Mentoring children and youth
  • Sunday morning worship experience
  • Community outreach

Based on a review of our Business Plan and our finances (see the Annual Report 2014-2015), he voiced concern that, given our projected deficit, MWUC can only continue for another 3 years before our resources will be exhausted.  Substantial changes are required.

Various possibilities were discussed:

#1.  Reduce Costs by reducing staff — no support was expressed for this idea:  stay fully staffed

#2.  Increase Revenue by:

  • local offerings — this was not felt to be feasible enough to make up our deficit
  • revenue from sources other than local offerings, such as:
    – more rental income from additional groups
    – asking previous MWUC members to continue to support us financially
    – a major fundraising event
    – finding sponsors to help finance some of our programs, such as Little Green Thumbs

OR considering options like:

  • using a different space to continue being MWUC
  • sharing our space with another church

#3.  Intercultural/Interdenominational ministry — support was expressed to explore such a ministry.

#4.  And what if MWUC cannot reach sustainability?

  • How does MWUC leave a legacy of our faith journey in the community in the event that we are unable to become sustainable?
  • Consideration needs to be given to the development of a worst-case scenario plan to be implemented in the event that MWUC is unable to reach sustainability before we exhaust our resources.

Council has decided to hire a part-time person to work for four months to work on marketing and media exposure for our church The hope is help us promote our programs and to communicate better with our community by increasing our social media presence, which in turn may attract more people to our church.

Make Tax Time Paycopy0-1347826909-tax-time
Our Make Tax Time Pay program for 2015 is now over. This partnership with E4C has allowed Mill Woods United Church to help numerous low income families get their taxes done for FREE over the past 10 years! Thank you to everyone who helped to make this service available to individuals and families in our community.

United in God’s Work
On April 26, twenty members of Mill Woods United stayed after Sunday worship to discuss the Comprehensive Review Final Report, “United in God’s Work“. Its six recommendations are designed to help the United Church  address diminishing financial and people resources and will be discussed and voted on at the next General Council Meeting in August.  All congregations have been asked to give feedback prior to that meeting.  Ian forwarded the following points to the April 28 Edmonton Presbytery meeting:

  • The proposals would improve United Church structure and reduce bureaucracy.
  • Changes in how ministry staff are hired, supported and disciplined should be positive for clergy.
  • It gives more freedom and encouragement for congregations to ‘to move off the map’ and supports the directions our congregation will need to take.
  • Funding will be set aside for innovative ministry, but we fear that the funding amount will not be even close to meeting the need.
  • There is no magic solution to membership decline, but the recommendations might help individual congregations to create a new ‘church’ that fits with the new generations.  Church as we know it is disappearing as our members age

Pizza and Movie Night
pizza-and-movieMill Woods United Church hosted a free Pizza and Movie Night for our friends   and neighbors on Saturday, April 25th. There were about 65 people for pizza and about 10 more came for the movie. It was great to meet so many new people. Thank you. to our neighbors at Pizza 38, 5403 – 38 Avenue who supplied the pizza. It was awesome! There was very little left at the end of the night. Thank you to all that helped with the set up, take down and set up for Sunday Service! Many hands made light work and we really appreciated the help.  This was the fourth and final event organized by Anne Ford and Lesley Verdin that was funded by the Presbytery initiative “Welcoming Neighbours.”

Facing the Future with Social Media
On March 22, Mary-Anne Janewski presented an introduction to social media to more than 20 MWUC folks. Mill Woods United Church has Facebook and Twitter pages in place and Mary-Anne wants to encourage the congregation to learn how to use these tools to share information about our programs and events with others. More than 20 people “joined in” and learned how to “reach out” with Twitter hashtags, Facebook sharing and event invitations from the MWUC Facebook page. We hope that people will keep learning and that their sharing will “make a difference” in someone’s life.

Watch for more social media tips from Mary-Anne in the future editions of theMorning Messenger.

Rae Spoon Concert
More than 80 people came to Mill Woods United Church on Saturday evening    March 21 for a concert by Calgary-based musician and activist Rae Spoon. The proceeds from the free-will offering will support the work of the Affirm Team to ensure that our church is one that welcomes people regardless of sexual or gender orientation, age, race, or faith background. In his opening remarks, Rev. Ian Kellogg spoke about the gracious challenges and joys of cultural changes around sex and gender and thanked Rae Spoon for their musical offerings and their work as an activist for gender liberation. Despite the snow covering our vehicles at the end of the evening, a delightful time seemed to be had by all.

Food and Fellowship @ MWUC
cookingWhile children gather for our monthly Little Green Thumbs program, parents and other adults get together to cook good food. Everyone works together to prepare delicious meals to take home. On March 21st the church kitchen was a hive of activity with 5 participants and 3 facilitators. We made chicken pot pies with biscuit mix for topping, tuna loaves and meatloaf. The smell of the cooling meatloaves was so good that the kids in the Little Green Thumbs class stormed the kitchen to see if they could eat some right away.

Stewardship 2015
March 15th marks the third week with a focus on Stewardship — how we spend our time and money as a church. On Sunday, we will be handed a letter from Tim Janewski, the Chairperson of Council, and a narrative summary of the church’s budget. For those who can’t wait for Sunday, we have uploaded the letter and budget summary below. May we all prayerfully reflect on how we contribute to the community as followers of Jesus and as members of Mill Woods United Church.

Letter from Tim Janewski, Council Chairperson
Narrative Budget

Congregation meeting of February 22, 2015
30 people stayed after Sunday worship on Feb 22 for Mill Woods United’s 2015 Annual Financial Meeting. Randy Round presented a snapshot of our income and spending in 2014 and a proposed budget for 2015 along with background details to help us understand where we have come as a congregation and how we plan to continue our mission of faith, hope and love in our neighbourhood.

Linda Paddon and Laine Pickle from “Facing the Future” presented ideas about how to ensure that Mill Woods United remains sustainable in ever-changing circumstances. The PowerPoint presentation and financial documents available via the links below provide a more complete picture of what was shared.

After questions and discussion, the 2014 Financial Statement was accepted and the 2015 Budget approved. Thanks to all for preparing and participating in this meeting, including Heavenly Hospitality who provided a luncheon.

2015 Approved Operating Budget (spreadsheet format)
Agenda and information slides presented
2014 Financial Statements