2019 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, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015 are just a click away.

Christmas 2019

Advent and Christmas were filled with busyness and joy at Mill Woods United. Below you can read about the Christmas Craft Fair, a wine-tasting fundraiser, and a Family Christmas carol sing-song evening. Besides that, we had four well-attended services for Advent. one of which (Dec 22) included a “paper-bag pageant — see photo — and two jam-packed Christmas Eve services.

Now it is on to a new year and a new decade in which we will continue to strive to be a spiritual community where you can explore your purpose and place, and a community in which you can Join In, Reach Out, and Make a Difference!

December 20, Family Christmas

More than 70 people gathered in the sanctuary on a cold Friday evening for a enjoyable time of Christmas carolling, storytelling, Quizmas fun, and refreshments. It was a wonderful taste of everything we like best about Christmas. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this annual delight.

December 6, Wine Tasting

Thirty people gathered on the evening of Friday December 6, 2019 at Color de Vino on Whyte Ave. for an enjoyable evening of friends and wine tasting. More than $1,000 was raised for the church. Thanks for Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this wonderful social gathering.

November 30, Christmas Craft Fair

The 21st annual Christmas Craft on Saturday November 30, 2019 was a huge success. Approximately 400 people came; Heavenly Hospitality sold out on many lunch items and made more than $1,000; and more than $3,000 was raised from the rental of more than 50 craft tables and a voluntary entrance fee.

Thank you to everyone who helped to organized this extravaganza, especially to Laura Paquette for taking the lead this year! Now, on to 2020!

November focus on refugees

In November 2019, Mill Woods United focused on immigration, migrants and refugees by reading and discussing the 2018 award-winning book “Homes: A Refugee Story.” This work of creative non-fiction by Edmonton teacher Winnie Yeung tells the story of an Edmonton teenager, Abu-Bakr al-Rebeeah. He fled with his family from Iraq to Syria in 2010 and then to Edmonton in 2014.

Three Sunday mornings ( November 3, Seeking refugee“; November 17, “Welcoming strangers,” and November 24, “Becoming and intercultural church”) related the book to biblical passages and to our work as a community of love, learning, justice, and hospitality.

On a related note, we were impressed with this recent video clip from CBC’s “The National” about a reunion in Regina of a family of Syrian refugees.

We also held two evenings of informal conversation and discussion on “Homes” — on November 18 and November 25.

Transfer of membership, November 17

During the Sunday morning spiritual gathering, five people officially transferred their church membership to Mill Woods United in a brief ritual. They are: Audrey Murray, Anita Piebiak, Emily Kabotoff, Terry Staley, and Wanda Egilsson. The ritual allowed the congregation to express its appreciation for the presence of these five and all that they do within and for this community of faith, and it also allowed everyone present to reaffirm our own faith journey.

“Reel Injun,” November 17

A circle of ten people in the sanctuary enjoyed a screening of an informative and provocative 2009 documentary on the history of “the Hollywood Indian,” and all the different stereotypes the entertainment industry has propagated for more than 100 years about First Nations people. Thank you to Mary-Anne Janewski and Nancy Siever for organizing this screening and to Michelle Nieviadomy for leading us in a sharing circle after we had seen the film.

Annual Financial Meeting, November 17

Following the Sunday morning spiritual gathering, 42 people stayed in the sanctuary for the Annual Financial Meeting of Mill Woods United. Reports from our Council Chairperson and Past Chairperson Rob McPhee and Carla Janzen and our Financial Representative Randy Round were received, questions about our 2019 financials and a proposed 2020 budget were answered, and a 2020 Budget was approved. Thank you to everyone who prepared this meeting and who participated in it.

Let’s Play Crib, November 15

Forty people came to the church on a Friday evening for an evening of cribbage, conversation, snacks, and fellowship. A good time was had by all!

Thanks to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for organizing this successful social event.

Prayer Shawl recognition — November 10

As part of our “Remembrance” Sunday gathering, Ethel Ray took time to highlight the work of the Prayer Shawl Team in the segment of our hour called “This Is Us” to communally bless a large number of prayer shawls that had been knit over the fall,and to acknowledge the particular contribution of our friend Carolyn Manning, who has knit so many shawls over the last few years. Below is the prayer we used to bless the shawls as a community — children and adults alike:

Source of all love
Let this shawl be…
a warm hug on a cool day!
Let this shawl be…
softer than a kitten’s fur!
Let this shawl be…
as light as a feather, blowing in the wind
Let this shawl be…
a sign of love,
a sign of our love,
a sign of Jesus’ love,
to wrap around shoulders,
to lay upon laps,
to fill many hearts
Alleluia, Alleluia!! ALLELUIA!

What is God? October 28 discussion

Nineteen people gathered in the sanctuary on a cold Monday evening to warmly share their reactions, opinions, and hopes for the Mill Wood United’s Purpose statement. On this occasion, our focus was on differing images of the Divine. To read the background documents on this initiative, click here.

Thanks to Council and its Future Steps group for organizing this evening.

Newcomers’ Lunch, October 20

After the spiritual gathering on Sunday morning October 20, just over 30 of us gathered in the Lower Hall for our “second annual Newcomers’ Lunch.” This group included 16 adults who were new either in 2018 or 2019, eight infants and children, and 11 more established members of the congregation. Pizza, salad, dessert, and times of sharing around five tables were enjoyed by all. Thanks to Darlene Hayward, Cathy Bayly, and Ian Kellogg for their work in organizing this event.

Summer 2019

For 16 Sundays from May through August, Sunday morning spiritual gatherings happened at Mill Woods United without our called minister, the Rev. Ian Kellogg. Ian was on sabbatical in May, June, July, and then took a combination of vacation and study leave in August.

In Ian’s absence, David Faber, a Candidate for ministry here in the city, led the services in May and July and the Rev. Joanne Kobylka led the services in June. In August, the Rev. Yoon-Ok Shin, Olga Garcia, Francisco Rico, John Mair, and Lindy Mair led the services. Thanks to all the worship leaders, the Worship Committee, and to everyone else (Welcome Team members, counters, substitute pianists, PowerPoint projectors, and others) who worked together to make these services a success.

April 12, a 60’s musical car rally

On Friday April 12, an enthusiastic group of car drivers and their passengers participated in “Fun, Fun, Fun, “til Daddy takes the T-bird away!” It began with a car rally and finished with a time to socialize and enjoy delicious snacks from the 1960’s.

Teams of four were given a route map around Edmonton with instructions to locate key pieces of information and eventually find your way back! Each group also had a set of 1960’s musical trivia questions that kept them musically inclined throughout the journey.

Thanks to the McPhees for organizing this fun extravaganza.

March 23, congregational work bee

On Saturday March 23, twenty two members of Mill Woods United turned out for a busy and fun afternoon of painting, touch-ups, clear-outs, and other types of make-overs. The results are wonderful — the interior of the main doors are now without marks, the wood trim in the sanctuary and all of the risers are fixed, the bulletin boards have all been refreshed, and many other small and large changes have occurred. Thanks to everyone who came out and all who contributed their tasty snacks, their time, and their sweat equity. Bravo!

March 16, “That’s amore!”

On Saturday evening, March 16, 40 people enjoyed a delicious and enjoyable evening of eating Italian food at three different homes and socializing with fellow members of our spiritual community. Thanks to the hosts — Brian Hudson and Audrey Murray (appetizers); Paul and Kathy Poechman (main course); Randy and Audrey Round (dessert); and Rob and Jennifer McPhee (main organizers). The food was delicioso, the conversation was scintillante, and the event was yet another riuscioto adult social event. Bravissima!

Lent 2019, Paying It Forward

On March 10, the first Sunday in Lent, the document available by this link (opens a PDF file) was distributed to the congregation. It lists 50 ways we could “pay forward” our blessings this Lent as well as 16 suggested acts of reconciliation. We hope that everyone enjoys trying some of these “random acts of kindness” and reconciliation. The 16 suggestions on the second page are from the list “150 Acts of Reconciliation for Canada 150,” which was presented to the church in December 2017, and which we read during the eight Sundays of Epiphany in winter 2019.

Thanks to Carla Janzen for suggesting this and putting the lists together.

March 10, Annual General Meeting

Forty members of the congregation stayed after the Sunday morning service for a successful annual meeting. Co-chairs of Council, Rob McPhee and Carla Janzen, led us through a year-in-review, Randy Round presented the financials, a new Council, with almost all positions filled, was voted in, and the congregation approved a new MWUC Purpose Statement following almost a year of meetings and discussions: “We are a spiritual community in which you can explore your purpose and place.”

February 8, Travel Adventures

A group of 40 or more came out on Friday evening February 8 to enjoy two travel adventure presentations. Ethel and Brian Ray showed slides and talked about their five weeks in southern France last year and Rob McPhee showed slides and talked about his trip last year to the “Stans” (Kazhakstan, Uzebikstan, and others).

Thanks to the presenters for an informative, eye-opening, and enjoyable evening.

February 4, 11, and 25: “On the Brink of Everything”

On three Monday evenings in February a small but engaged group of church members joined with facilitators Joyce Madsen and Clair Woodbury to discuss our spiritual journeys with inspiration from three recent books: “On the Brink of Everything,” by Parker Palmer, “Grace Without God” by Katharine Ozment, and “Unbelievable” by John Shelby Spong.

January 19, Screenshots

Almost 30 people from the congregation gathered at South Edmonton Common to watch “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic about the early career of famed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Afterward, we repaired to Rob and Jennifer’s house for snacks and conversation. Most of us enjoyed the movie, and a good time was had by all. Thanks to Rob and Jennifer McPhee for another successful social event.

January 12, Mill Woods Resource Fair

On Saturday January 12, Cathy Bayly, Carla and Janzen and Ian Kellogg staffed a table presenting information about our congregation at the Mill Woods Senior’s and Multicultural Centre as part of a Resource Fair.

January 6, Ian’s Fifth Anniversary

On the first Sunday of 2019, the church marked the fifth anniversary of Ian’s arrival in Edmonton and at Mill Woods United with a special service and a soup and bun lunch. Below are the Ian’s remarks from the preamble to the service:

Dear friends,

Today is Epiphany, a day on which the church celebrates the second and less-beloved of the two biblical stories of the birth of Jesus. It is the one from Matthew where Magi from the East follow a Star to Bethlehem. They don’t go to a stable far from Mary and Joseph’s supposed hometown of Nazareth. Those features are found in the story from Luke, which we heard on Christmas Eve. Instead, the Magi travel to the house of Mary and Joseph about two years after Jesus’ birth in the place that Matthew says was their hometown, Bethlehem.

The church celebrates Epiphany as a moment when the light represented by Jesus begins to spread beyond Bethlehem; and light will be our focus throughout the Season of Epiphany, which begins today and which continues until Ash Wednesday in early March. But today, I reflect on the concept of the call, which in today’s reading is represented by the Star and by dreams experienced both by the Magi and by Jesus’ step-father, Joseph.

I reflect on the call today because today is not just one of those rare Epiphanies that lands on a Sunday. It is also the fifth anniversary of my first Sunday service here at Mill Woods United. On the day before Epiphany in January 2014, I presided in worship from the front of this sanctuary for the first time and I preached a sermon based on the beginning of the Gospel of John.

I am grateful for all that I have experienced, learned, and enjoyed as a spiritual leader of this community of faith. I am pleased to think back on five years of sermons, baptisms, wedding, funerals, Pride parades, meetings, sharing circles, Bible and book studies, social events, and so many wonderful conversations.

At a confirmation service in 2014, I suggested that we view church as a place in which we engage in a never-ending conversation about Love. But as I noted in my first sermon five years ago yesterday, we don’t enter this conversation at the beginning but somewhere in the middle.

Some of you were here five years ago. Others have joined our band of fellow pilgrims since then. But regardless of when you came to Mill Woods United, I am grateful that you have decided to offer your voice as one of the threads that make up our tapestry of love. Thank you!

As for this morning, I hope that our time of song, sacrament, and sharing will inspire a new year of conversation, communion, and connection. May it feed our spirits and souls and help us in the joyous work of outreach and justice.


Click on this link to access Ian’s sermon from that day.

Follow these links for Highlights from 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.