On the wet, West Coast of Canada, where I live and work, we have grown accustomed to the decline of the mainline church, particularly The United Church of Canada. We now whine very little about the unfair playing field of a consumer society, soccer on Sundays or undisciplined Christians.
The sod has settled over the grave of Christendom. The church and its leaders no longer carry the clout that existed when many current leaders were in their youth.
Congregations undoubtedly do amazing work. We have health services, food banks, children’s programming, leadership development, summer camps, long term care facilities, and programming to support every subsector of society with almost any challenge (not to mention supporting our communities with spiritual grounding, emotional support, and connection).
If you are part of a group working to improve the social good of your community — or if you have skills or experience that could help such a group grow and expand — the Social Mentor Network wants to hear from you.
Art has always played an important part in churches throughout the ages, ranging from simple sculptures to Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
The Rev. Jim Keenan of Bradford United Church in Bradford, Ontario, recognizes the important intersections between art and religion. “A healthy arts community is integral to the spiritual and overall health of the community and the overall well-being of its residents,” he says.
For one evening every month, Grace United Church in Hanover, Ontario, is filled with the sounds of group drumming. Leading the session is the Rev. Micol Cottrell, who has led similar groups at two other United Churches in the last five years.
For Cottrell, Drum Circle Worship is much more than just making music.
One of my all-time favourite compositions is Edward Elgar’s Op. 36 (popularly known as Enigma Variations). This piece is a love story where each movement is a tribute to one of Elgar’s friends. It is complex, playful, and heartfelt; it rouses my heart, my memory, and my imagination all at the same time. Starting when I was 14, my high-school concert band played an arrangement of the adagio movement, “Nimrod,” all the time as a warm-up piece. Eventually, the constant repetition started to dampen my enthusiasm and love for the music.
Moderator Jordan Cantwell had a busy November. It started with her keynote address at an LBGT conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. She then “chilled” at a youth forum in British Columbia, before heading back to Toronto to take part in difficult discussions during a two-day meeting of the Executive of the General Council. She discussed the importance of these three events with Paul Russell.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night…
As we enter into Advent, we bring to mind the birth of Christ and the mystery of the Incarnation. It’s a time when we become a little more awe-filled with the chaotic, gracious business that is Emmanuel – God-with-us.