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Christmas Eve Memory

Candlelight!  Communion!  Reverence!  Awe!  Joy!

They were all there at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 10:00 p.m. at Central Westside United Church as we celebrated the birth of our saviour, Jesus the Christ.

The service began with the feeling of hope inspired by Bruce Steer’s lovely saxophone solo, “He is Born”  The clear bright voice of Krista Adair singing “The Angel’s Carol” continued the musical offerings.  One of our traditions is to welcome home former members who have travelled on to new places they now call home, and to invite them to help in worship, and so, Murray Rice, home from Toronto, sang an arrangement of two Christmas songs, “Infant Holy and Silent Night”.  A little later the choir presented their rendition of the beautiful Austrian carol “Still, Still, Still”.  All of the musical guests were  accompanied by Judy Pringle on the organ.

Glenn and Helen Hepburn relit the four coloured Advent Candles before lighting the white Christ Candle in the centre of the arrangement to complete the set.

The bible readings told the Christmas story from hopeful times before Christ’s birth, to “between times”, to the Luke story of Christ’s birth.  Readers were Helen Hepburn, Bruce Steer and Terri-Lynn Jackson.

This Communion service is one of the loveliest of the year because of its simpleness and its universal invitation to worship Christ, the Newborn King.  As worshippers line up for the elements at the front of the church there is a palpable sense of unity and of coming home.  It is usually very quiet.

People return to their seats with an air of expectation of good things to come.  The individual candles which were handed out upon entering the church are now lit, the flame being handed from one person to the next, as we sing “Silent Night”.  The lights in the sanctuary are dimmed, leaving only the sparkling white garland lights around the balcony and the choir loft, the Christ candle grouping, and the shining beacon of the back-lit double crosses behind the organ.  The candlelit faces reflect reverence.

As the carol ends and the organ plays the postlude it seems that no one wants to leave this sacred space.  Jennifer, ever the hostess, goes to the kitchen to prepare the apple cider and cut the Christ cake.  The people are in a reverie of some sort.  Still no one stirs.  It has become a moment frozen in time, a magical Christmas memory.  If Jennifer hadn’t returned to the sanctuary and switched on the lights is it possible that we would have met the morning still that way, or did we meet something more eternal in those moments?

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”.

Rosemary Fenwick

The Minister Wore Pink

On Sunday, Dec. 13/09 the congregation of Central Westside was led in worship by the Sunday School teachers and students. The service was different but inspiring and the children did an excellent job in singing, reading, doing a skit and presenting a meaningful message. They chose to have a “pink” rather than a white gift time. They performed a skit taken (with permission) from an article in a newspaper down east. It was about a young boy who was bullied in school because he wore a pink shirt to school and how the other students rallied around him and wore pink shirts to school to show their support. The young folks in the Sunday School signed pledges stating they would not be bullies and come to the aid of those who were bullied. Of course, this was done with the idea that bullying is displeasing to God. All the Sunday School personnel wore pink in some form, as did most of the congregation who had been alerted beforehand. In keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving an offering was taken in pink baskets to aid the Women’s Crisis Centre. A pizza party with make it yourself sundaes followed the service for those who wished to stay. Hope you all have had a God focused blessed Christmas and look forward to a great New Year. Helen Hepburn

Alvin’s Christmas Sleigh

Alvin's sleigh.jpg
D.C.Taylor window

A CHRISTMAS STORY
FROM ALVIN AND AUDREY
WHEN I WAS ABOUT 4 OR 5 YEARS OLD I GOT A SLEIGH FOR CHRISTMAS–OH MY WAS IT A BEAUTY I TOOK THAT SLEIGH ALMOST EVERYWHERE I WENT IN THE WINTER TIME–DOWN THE STEEPEST SLOPES I COULD FIND–DELIVERING CHRISTMAS GIFTS TAKING HOME GROCERIES – MIND YOU THIS WAS ALMOST BEFORE SNOW PLOWS
BUT ONE OF IT’S GREATEST SKILLS WAS GOING LIKE HELL DOWN A HILL
AND IT RESTING AS I PULLED IT BACK UP
AS I SAID, MANY HILLS DOWN IN DURHAM WHERE I WAS BORN WE TRAVELED ON UNTIL ONE MOONLIT NIGHT WHEN WE HIT A TREE [THIS WAS BEFORE I LEARNED TO DRINK AND DRIVE] I CAME OUT O K BUT MY SLEIGH WAS BANGED UP IN THE FRONT
WELL, MY SLEIGH WAS SENT TO THE GARAGE TO HANG AND I TOOK UP SKIING
—MY MOTHER TOOK IT DOWN AND USED IT TO DO CHORES AROUND THE HOUSE
BUT IT HAD ANOTHER SAD THING YET TO DO. AFTER I MARRIED AND MOVED AWAY MY DOG, WHO WAS LEFT WITH MY MOTHER, DIED –SO WITH MY LITTLE DAUGHTER JANICE — WE PUT THE BODY ON THE SLEIGH AND TOOK IT TO THE END OF THE PROPERTY TO BURY MY DOG
THEN WHEN MY MOTHER GAVE UP HER HOUSE SHE GAVE ME BACK MY SLEIGH WHICH WENT BACK UP IN MY GARAGE TO HANG AGAIN FOR SOME DAUGHTER OR GRANDCHILD TO USE-
WELL YOU KNOW THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN —THERE ARE TOO MANY OTHER TOYS TO PLAY WITH NOW —
YEARS PASSED AND I HAD TO SELL MY HOUSE.
SO WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO MY SLEIGH— MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER, LISA, SAID SHE WOULD TAKE IT AND PUT FLOWERS ON IT IN HER YARD.
SHE WORKS FOR A MAIN STREET STORE IN OWEN SOUND AND WAS DECORATING ITS WINDOWS FOR CHRISTMAS —ONE OF HER FELLOW WORKERS SAID –[DOES ANY ONE HAVE A SLEIGH?] — SHE VOLUNTEERED MY OLD ONE.
SO I AM 77 YEARS OLD – I GOT THE SLEIGH WHEN I WAS 4 – DO THE MATH
IT NOW STANDS IN —-D.C.TAYLOR’S STORE WINDOW— GETTING MORE FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME THEN ANYONE I EVER KNEW
I AM SO PROUD OF THAT OLD SLEIGH
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU
ALVIN AND AUDREY

Many Facets to Writing Workshop

Three women from our congregation participated in a November Saturday afternoon Writing Workshop held at Annesley United Church in Markdale. Muriel Lush, from FaithBooksPlus, and the Rev. Donna Mann conducted the 3-hour session which they divided into three sections. Arriving early we waited for our start time and were joined by five other women, none of whom we knew. Polite greetings were exchanged and we sat quietly in our own small groupings.
Muriel began by welcoming all of us and explaining how the afternoon was expected to unfold. Muriel, who ran the Presbytery Resource Centre, now called Faith Books Plus and part of our ministry in Central Westside, shared with us some of her personal stories and how she became interested in writing about them.
Then it was Donna Mann’s turn to tell us about her path through life, her younger self, her daughter’s tragic death, her journey through grief, her writing about grief, which led her eventually to counseling and the ministry. Donna, who has written many books, gave us tips on how to start the creative juices flowing. She pointed out the simple things in our day to day lives which can trigger a flood of memories or opinions which can be put to paper. She is a popular speaker and it was easy to see why with her easy manner and quiet enthusiasm.
We had been instructed to bring along something which we had written to share with the others, so after a break for a tasty nosh, it was our turn. The stories were read one by one around the circle. As each story was read we were all given a chance to comment. These were such amazing pieces, written with candour, feeling, amusement, acceptance of ourselves and those with whom we share this walk through life.
When the afternoon was over we realized that the eight people who had been sitting separately in the anteroom had become a special group of friends with a common interest in telling our stories. Well done, Muriel and Donna. Thanks for the gentle push to tap into our creativity.
Rosemary Fenwick
Communications Committee

How Useful is the Internet?

How useful is the internet? If you are reading this, I don’t have to tell
you. But you can pass the story on.
A couple of weeks ago we had a special concert on Sunday afternoon at
Central Westside. Because of the musician setup, we worshiped with Knox
United Church that morning.
One of our members, not realizing the change, came to church for the usual
time, only to find the parking lot empty.
What to do?
They pulled out their Blackberry and typed in “central westside Nov. 22” and
the answer came up “Worshipping at Knox”. And they made it to church at Knox
and weren’t even late!
David

Marion Wyllie Celebrates 103

Marion Wyllie’s latest publication, Blossoms on An Aged Tree, was launched at Ginger Press in Owen Sound on her 103rd birthday, October 26, 2009, where several of her friends gathered to celebrate with her. The poems and stories in the book were penned since her 100th birthday, adding to her body of work. This includes several publications as well as My Nine Lives, a memoir based on the first nine decades of her life, and a supplement covering the decade since. Here is her speech requested by Publisher Maryann Thomas.
“First, thank you to all of you for being here, and to Maryann for being my publisher extraordinaire; and for all the people, past and present, who have encouraged and helped me in my writing efforts. My only regret is that I haven’t achieved as much as they seemed to hope for me.
“When Maryann asked me to speak a few words she gave me one word for a topic — longevity. Now, I have two dictionaries but both of them are large, cumbersome volumes to handle. So I looked into my pocket thesaurus; it doesn’t give the meanings, just synonyms
“The only synonym for longevity was survival! I’m a survivor. Hallelujah! If we have lived a life of any length we have survived a number of things — some of us have survived cancer or heart attacks or all of the childhood diseases.
“People often ask me what is my secret. If there is a secret it hasn’t been revealed to me. I put people off by saying – it’s all in the genes. But genes are not the whole answer. Children of the same parents can have very different life spans. One would suppose them to have the same genes. It seems to me the most important thing is not the length of a life but the quality of life. There are so many things to enjoy, so many good causes to espouse, so many interesting people to meet.
“Of course life is uncertain. I look around me where I live and see so many people whose lives have sadly changed with age. If they had once envisioned how they are now, they would have been appalled. It is a constant reminder that I do not know what a stroke or the onset of Alzheimer’s disease might do to me by next year — or by tomorrow. So it behooves me to enjoy small pleasures, to emulate the patience and kindness of our caregivers, to look kindly on all my fellow humans. It’s not that hard to smile, to wave or say good morning, or laugh at someone’s stale joke.
“The more I think of longevity the less I think of it. I mean the length of a life is not as important as the quality of it. It’s what we do with the time allotted to us that matters. I have not studied comparative religions, though it must be a fascinating study, but from the little I know of others, I believe the Christian religion is the one that best meets my spiritual needs. It’s like an anchor. By that I don’t mean to keep me stuck in one place. I can hoist anchor and move on. But like a ship, I don’t leave the anchor behind. It goes with me to steady me for whatever may be coming next.
“As I looked up longevity in the thesaurus, my eye strayed down a line or two. The next word I saw was Longwinded. Thus endeth the sermon”.
Marion Fields Wylllie

Stewardship Month 2009

A month of themed stewardship presentations led to a final “Celebration Sunday” October 18, 2009, marking the culmination of our stewardship campaign for 2009.
Rev. Vince Alfano, guest speaker and executive director of Toronto United Church Council, invited the congregation to give prayerful thought regarding their financial giving to the ministry of our church.
Congregation members could fill out their 2010 pledges for both local needs and our Mission and Service Fund immediately or could take the forms home for further consideration.
With some pledges still to be returned, our congregation responded generously and joyfully to the endless gifts that God gives us.
An increase of more than $11,000.00 was pledged immediately for the local needs of our church community as well as in excess of $2,500.00 in increased giving to the M&S Fund.
We can truly celebrate that our congregation is one with a joyful and generous heart that can live out its mission in the name of Christ.
Glen Durst
Stewardship Committee

Faith Books Plus News

Ever since September of 1988, Grey Presbytery Resource Centre has operated in the basement of Central Westside United Church. (When I pause to think about it, the church was still Westside United Church then. Central United and Westside United came together in 1994. )
It’s 21 years since that September beginning, now the Resource Centre has re-opened as Faith Books Plus.
I have always felt at home in this building with this congregation and this presbytery. But as Grey Presbytery ceased to exist and became Northern Waters Presbytery, the Resource Centre was destined to close. It was extremely affirming to receive an invitation from Central Westside United Church to re-open as an outreach ministry of their congregation. I am excited to be part of this new ministry.
We are here to serve you in this ministry of books, audio-visuals, networking, and Christian Education. The internet widens our ability to access information much more quickly than in the past. You are always welcome to drop in on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon just to browse and ask questions or to purchase or order.
We are anxious to serve people in the surrounding area outside the United Church. We await your visit.
——————————————————————————————–Available Now

Feasting on the Word

This is the title of what will be a series which will cover all the Sundays in the three year lectionary cycle. For a limited time, you can save $17.00 on the current volume which includes Advent and Christmas. Ministers are raving about this series edited by David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor with a long list of contributors including Walter Brueggeman, Martin E. Marty, and Leonora Tubbs Tisdale. Very sound comprehensive and ecumenical material.

More Voices

The latest music resource (in the United Church) has become very popular, introducing many pieces new to us. Examples are “Put Peace into Each Others’ Hands”, and “My Love Colours Outside the Lines” These coil backed books are constant sellers to anyone who loves music. To help them last longer, the Faith Books Plus now has protective vinyl jackets available. Price $1.30.

Voices United Accompaniment CD’s

Voices United is still our “main” hymnbook. The United Church is producing a 12 volume collection of music from Voices United with a few from More Voices, played on piano or organ. They are meant as accompaniment for congregational singing but can be used in countless ways. Examples include: small group ministries church camps, Vacation Bible School, nursing home ministry, or just for music to play while driving!
In small churches with only one pianist, these CD’s will be great when that person has to be absent. Don’t forget to bring the CD player! We now have seven volumes available including two for the Advent-Epiphany season. Price $19.95

Advent Awakenings

Continuing a tradition begun in 2008, the United Church has published “Advent Awakenings”: Daily Devotions for the Season of Advent, Year C.
The first entry for Week One of Advent questions, “As a Child of Light what might I need to guard my heart from during this Advent Season”? In other words, is it really essential to remove and clean behind the control knobs on the stove to get ready for the birth of the Christ child? That provides food for thought. Price: $8.95

Jesus 24/7

Another exciting resource which one of “my” congregations has already used and really appreciated is Jesus 24/7: A Short Course on Faith for the Questing Christian. The course is set up for 12 sessions, one for each of the statements embodied in “A New Creed”. The writer, David Bruce, is quick to say “I consider it more important to sort out what it means to follow Jesus than what the United Church or any other denomination “officially” believes. So, invite your friends of whatever denomination to come and learn and share. Price $16.95 There is now a similar workbook for teens. Price: $14.95
Hours are Tuesday 2-6 p.m. and Thursday noon to 4 p.m. Call us at (519) 371-3672, or contact me at muriell@centralwestside.ca
Muriel Lush
Faith Books Plus

Successful Community Kitchen held at Central Westside

Surrounded by young moms and babies, Doreen remarked how nice it was to have all the generations working together.  Our Community Kitchen held in May at Central Westside United Church was very successful. Marion and Doreen from Central Westside Church, Ann and Marilyn from the Health Unit, Ashley, a student volunteer, Teresa, a dietician student, Bethany, my daughter, and the young moms and a dad, prepared nutritious, low budget meals together.  
It was heart warming to see the young women learning some kitchen skills under the tutelage of Marion and Doreen. We arranged for two women from the Salvation Army Daycare to provide childcare in the church nursery.  The children played upstairs until lunch was prepared and then we all ate together.  
Modelling table manners, passing food, staying at the table until everyone was finished, no TV on and eating at a table were experienced by participants; all things that often fall by the wayside in busy homes.
We had guest speakers come in and talk to us in the kitchen while food was cooking.   Paul, a Public Health Inspector, discussed food safety (did you know that leftovers shouldn’t be kept in the fridge for over three days?)  Me neither!
Kathryn, Health Unit Dietician, came for a visit as did Diane from the Ontario Early Years Centre.  The OEYC is a place for parents to get together, learn new skills and discuss parenting issues.  The three Ontario Early Years Centres in Owen Sound are at St. Georges Church, Bayview School and M’Wekwedong Native Friendship Centre.
All in all, the Community Kitchen was a positive experience.  It was good to meet new friends and learn some new skills and it would be great to have it again some time.
submitted by Ann Boddy, Public Health Grey Bruce.

Resource Centre Scoop

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Muriel Lush displays a collection from Resource Centre in the Friendship Room recently.
(Photo by Doreen Fawcett)
Winter is finally bidding us a lingering farewell. Ahead is the warmth and bright sunlight of spring.
Just arrived at the Resource Centre are: Sharing Circle, a First Nations story, Lawrence Hill’s Book of Negroes and Praying with Icons by Jim Forest. Available soon will be The First Paul by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan and A People’s History of Christianity by Diane Butler Bass.
For Mother’s Day, why not buy a copy of on the Spirituality of…books? My choice for right now is The spirituality of Gardening by Dona Sinclair. It is a beautifully illustrated coffee table sized volume in which she links gardening with our faith. How can one not think of the creator as he or she works the warm soil and set the eager young petunias or green onions in place? Leaving them there and trusting they will grow and thrive is evidence of one’s belief. One who plants a garden plants joy. You can browse other books in the series: The Spirituality of Nature, The Spirituality of Art are in stock. Many others can be ordered.
If you are a Sunday School teacher or superintendent, come in and choose an appropriate curriculum for your children. Seasons of the Spirit is always in demand. It is lectionary based and available in print, on disc or you can access it online! You may also wish to take a look at Godly Play books.
Do you need program material for a small group or inspiration for a sermon? Let us help you find a video or a new collection of programs for the church year. There is a Season is a favourite; Betty Radford Turcotte has prepared easily given devotions complete with a call to worship, prayer, scripture, suggested hymns, a meditation and a closing prayer. Other titles include: If God is so Good, Why do I Hurt so Bad? What’s in the Bible and How do I Use it? Not Alone – Encouragement for Caregivers.
Now that Spirit Connection is off the air, you can borrow a video from our extensive collection to catch up with missed episodes or see them all! We have many other titles too numerous to mention.
Drop in Tuesday or Thursday afternoon and browse. You will be welcomed.
Grey Presbytery Resource Centre hours are Tuesday 2-6 p.m. and Thursday noon to 4 p.m. Call us at (519) 371-3672, or contact Muriel Lush