Round the Table

Sharing stories of life, faith, and ministry in the United Church and beyond.

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

For centuries an olive branch has symbolized peace.

Greek and Roman cultures used the symbol as early as 2,500 years ago. The dual image of a dove with an olive branch has been a Christian symbol of peace since the end of the first century CE. This comes (in part) from Genesis 8:11, which tells of a dove sent from Noah’s ark and returning with an olive branch.

The symbol continues today. In Palestine, olive oil is the primary source of income for about 75,000 farmers. Olive trees also produce olives for food, soap, jewelry, woodcarving, and firewood.

Under the...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

Attracting young families is a challenge many churches face, but Castlegar United Church in Castlegar, British Columbia, thinks it may have a solution.

Every fourth Sunday, families from the surrounding community are invited to take part in a Worship for the Child Within event. Rev. Greg Powell, minister for Castlegar United, says that Castlegar has tried to design a style of worship that is “engaging for young and old alike.”

The services start and end in the...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

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.

I had some good opportunities over the summer for rest, recreation, and reconnection with family and friends. I hope you...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

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.

Part of this reticence is that many of us feel...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

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.

Still, there is a real sense of spiritual renewal here. That’s evident every other Sunday in Rory’s, New Denver’s...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

Another world is necessary, urgent, and already in the making.

These are the core beliefs of those who attended the 12th World Social Forum (WSF) - a convergence of solutions, energies, and goodwill for the building of another world.

I attended the WSF (August 9–14, Montreal, QC), and also participated in the World Forum on Theology and Liberation (WFTL), a parallel event organized by local ecumenical organizations and attended by people of faith from around the world. We walked together in the WSF’s opening march in support of...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

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.

Sharon Moon, a retired United Church minister...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

In The United Church of Canada there is an affirmation of faith that says, “In life, in death, in life beyond death, we are not alone.” Jenn Kline has lived that reality with the story of her brother.

When you first meet Jenn, you would think she is a caring and considerate student at Appalachian State University. She’s studying to get her master's in clinical mental health counseling, and her smile does a great job of...

Last updated: 
September 20, 2019

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.”

The ...

Last updated: 
September 5, 2019

Rev. Paul Douglas Walfall, the President of Alberta and Northwest Conference, writes on Blacks Lives Matter and the persistence of racial discrimination in Canada.

Friends, I speak on a point of personal privilege.

The unfolding events in the USA brings the question of race relations again to the fore. The reality that a Black male is more likely to be stopped, questioned and intimidated than any other racial groups in North America should not be understated nor taken for granted. While it is true that the issues of race relations in Canada are usually...