It’s the middle of September, and I’m still getting used to the idea of it being September!
Somehow the shift from the lazy, hazy days of summer to the pumped-up energy of the first week of school, the resumption of committee gatherings at the General Council Office, and the flurry of welcome back Sundays in congregations, is just a little abrupt.
In these transitional times of year many of us feel torn between the time past and the time coming.
To me, one of the great losses of the last 30 years in our church is that we do not often ask people about their experience of God. Perhaps we are afraid of appearing wacko or irrational but it has often shut us up. We can go for years and not know whether the person down the row from us may have had their pickup truck surrounded by a shaft of light and they felt encompassed by an overwhelming sense of love and rightness or whether they have struggled an entire lifetime wondering why God seemed absent in an abusive household.
On the surface, the British Columbia community of New Denver seems like an odd place to find a grassroots reinvention of church. Tucked away in the Kootenay region in the province’s southeast, 500 people live in the small village, where the pastoral charge has not had a minister in over 25 years. The village’s United Church was recently sold, and when meeting in the sister church down the road proved impractical, the small congregation began meeting in members’ homes.
Every Tuesday, people gather in the chapel of First United Church in Ottawa to offer healing. They are there to conduct Healing Pathway sessions. Practitioners learn to be spiritually grounded, heart-centred channels of God’s healing love. Across Canada, more than 100 other congregations are doing the same thing, as trained practitioners embody God’s unconditional healing love for those who come to receive.
The United Church of Canada doesn’t have a singular motto or slogan it is known for, though there are many strong statements already in use across the church. On our website’s home page, under our name, are these words: “Discover the power of prayer, action, and community.”
When the Canadian team enters the stadium at the 2016 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Rio on August 5, Islington United Church member Jean MacLennan will be watching closely. For at the very front of that team will be her 27-year-old granddaughter, Rosannagh (Rosie) MacLennan, a seasoned trampoline gymnast.