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February 6, 2019

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” —Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”

In July 2017 I received the then latest issue of The Journal of the Historical Society of the Alberta and Northwest Conference of The United Church of Canada. In that issue I was particularly interested in the article “The KKK and the Church,” written by Rev. Lloyd Lovatt. It was interesting reading and yet it was also difficult at points to absorb. I read that the Ku Klux Klan came to Alberta in the 1920s through...

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January 17, 2019

The United Church of Canada has long been involved in interfaith dialogue and action to build respectful, mutual relationships. The church has recognized Islam as a religion of peace, mercy, justice, and compassion and has affirmed that we want to journey towards reconciliation, understanding, and cooperation with our Muslim neighbours. For more information, see Interfaith Relations.

Eleven members of Grace United Church participated...

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January 7, 2019

During this past Advent, we put ourselves in the shoes of God’s people in biblical times as they wait for God to act. But the difference is that for us, we know what we’re waiting for (or we think we know), whereas for God’s people at the time, I don’t think they were quite sure what God had in mind or knew how long they were going to have to wait.

The Korean people can identify with this. They have been waiting for decades. When World War II ended, they thought the long years of Japanese occupation were over and the Korean people had finally found their independence. But it...

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December 13, 2018

My earliest church memories are tethered to St. James-Bond United Church in Toronto. (Of course, we called it “Bond…St. James Bond, United Church,” with a Sean Connery burr.) I won’t elaborate with tales of basketball courts and bowling alleys, wonderful ministers, witty musicians, finger sandwiches, ukuleles, and poster paint because you likely have similar memories of a church with a slightly less cool name. These days, when I travel along Avenue Road, I see condos where there was once a church. And I feel a little sentimental tug—a nostalgia that I can often confuse with sadness....

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December 11, 2018

People sometimes share that they forget I am a person who is totally blind. I experience this as a good thing, an acknowledgment that they feel acceptance, and embrace me for who I am, my abilities and disabilities.

When I or others are not focusing on my disability and “forget” it, so to speak, it is not really forgotten. I don’t believe that people intend to dismiss my blindness.

People really don’t overlook I am blind. That is certainly not avoidable. Trust me! People don’t suddenly ignore my seeing eye dog at my side. They don’t suddenly stop needing to self-identify...

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December 11, 2018

I am a person who is totally blind. I use a dog guide. Wilson is a 7½ year old black lab. He can be correctly described as a seeing eye dog, as he is a graduate of that school. “Seeing eye dog” is actually not a generic term, though it is often used erroneously that way.

Service animals work helping people who live with PTSD, very low vision, blindness, very limited hearing, deafness, autism, diabetes, epilepsy, and medical support such as assisting those in wheelchairs. Service animals could be canine officers supporting police, search and rescue, and the like.

One cannot...

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July 12, 2018

Almost 3.8 million Canadians (about 14 percent of the population) identify as having a disability.  The United Church is committed to becoming an open, welcoming, and accessible church, and to affirming people of all abilities. Read the church’s response to the Accessible Canada Act.

I have lived my entire life with a disability. Growing up in...

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May 17, 2018

I am a third-generation Japanese Canadian living in southern Alberta among the third-largest concentration of Japanese in Canada; the other two concentrations of population are in Vancouver and Toronto. In my city of Lethbridge, no one questions our presence here, because people have grown up with us in their midst.

During the Second World War, the Japanese were deemed to be “enemy aliens” and were forcibly removed from the West Coast of Canada to exile in relocation camps in the Interior of BC. Others came to do the hard labour of sugar beet farming in southern Alberta. Both of my...

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May 2, 2018

To be candid, when I received an invitation to create a worship service and Bible study for Asian Heritage Month 2018, I hesitated at first. I am grateful for this opportunity to share why I accepted.

Why me? I wondered, when I was asked. Is it because I am “Asian?” There is nothing politically incorrect or derogatory about calling me that, but still, this identification is never easy to accept. Judith Butler writes, in Vulnerability in Resistance, that names, categories, and descriptions are applied to us before...

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March 28, 2018

Kenji Marui travelled to Australia as part of the Moderator’s Dialogue on Reconciliation to consult and build relationship with the Uniting Church in Australia, the Uniting Aboriginal Islander Christian Congress, and Indigenous groups in Australia. He shares some of his experience here. For more perspectives from the Dialogue on Reconciliaiton, see "Practicing Good Relations" and...