Maple Grove United Church

Daycare Open with Restrictions

The daycare is now opened. There are restrictions to space availability for the church visitors and the daycare. Please read carefully:

  • We have installed sanitation stations throughout the church please use them.
  • Please sanitize before and after you have signed in.
  • Please stop at the membership desk as you will be required to sign in by printing the date of your visit, your name and contact information.
  • We are asking you to bring a mask if you are entering the church.
  • We have programmed the doors that the accessible door is the only entrance to the church by church staff and church visitors.
  • To access the church office the door to the right after the membership desk is the new entrance door to the church office area. To exit please use the door at the bottom of the stairwell where you entered. If you are unable to use the stairs, then you can use the elevator to access the second floor.
  • Visitors are to use the gym washrooms and the accessible washroom by the membership desk in the lobby only. There are disinfecting supplies so please use them after you use the facilities.
  • Caution tape has been placed to border off the daycare usable space and the church usable space. We ask that these be followed for the safety of you, our visitors and the daycare staff and children.
  • Boys and girls’ washrooms by the Friendship Room and the kitchen are for Daycare use only. There is no access for church use.

Midweek Meditation 16

Coping with Covid-19; and, hopefully, not feeling crushed or exceedingly cramped.  This week pretty much marks the four-month mark since the virus showed up in Canada.  By and large, our nation has responded rather well.  All provinces except Ontario and Quebec have managed to exercise a good deal of containment and control.  In Ontario, only Windsor and area and most parts of Metro Toronto are still the hot-spots.  Prayers for citizens and front-line workers in those communities are essential devotional service.  Yet, even though most areas are more open in the Stage Two phase, there is still a need for plenty of caution and oodles of patience.

    “God is my light and saving health; whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1).  Or what?  I hope that the resources of faith:  prayer, perseverance, relying on God for strength, sharing God’s love and care with others, holding fast to hope are the life-buoys that are keeping us afloat as we ride out this viral tidal wave.   What signs of God’s presence and activity during these times have you noticed or experienced?  What have you been learning about life and faith over these past few months of social distancing, extra-careful hygiene, anxious concern, and sporadic outbursts of joy and reassurance?  Feel free to share some of your thoughts and reflections with me and I will be happy to create a collage of them in future midweek musings.

     The Psalms are a good scriptural resource for people of faith in times like these since the authors were often beset by troubles and concerns from inner “demons” and outside sources.  Repeatedly the poets and lyricists who created the Psalms count on God for support and help with unmitigated confidence.  “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  Words and testimonies similar to this one appear repeatedly throughout the whole book, featured in 33% – 50% or more them.  If they haven’t already been part of your daily or weekly devotional practice, let me commend them to you.  Prayer and praise from the depths of one’s heart and spirit are ever acceptable in God’s ears and sight, and go a long way to anchoring our own lives in difficult times and situations.  Let us remain receptive to God’s blessing, help, and abiding grace.

Rev. Kerry Stover – Our New Minister

On behalf of the Maple Grove Search Committee, I am excited to announce that Reverend Kerry Stover, M.Div has been called to be the next spiritual leader of our community of faith.  Kerry comes to us with a wealth of experience both in ministry and in the private sector.  A lifelong member of the United Church, Reverend Kerry is a graduate of the respected Masters of Divinity (“M.Div”) program at Emmanuel College,  University of Toronto. Most recently he has been responsible for the “Fresh Start” program at Kingsway-Lambton United Church in Etobicoke. He will be joining us on or around October 1, 2020  upon completion of his current call.

Prior to meeting with us, Reverend Kerry did extensive research on Maple Grove to develop an understanding of the priorities of our community of faith.  We have shared interests in social justice, outreach, theology, music and the evolution of the church. 

The Search Committee found Reverend Kerry to be a compassionate individual with an insightful and engaging style. 

When asked about Reverend Kerry, his former congregants and mentors had this to say:

  •  “Any congregation would be extremely blessed to have his skills and passion and experience as part of their team. Kerry is a great leader within our denomination.”
  • “Any congregation that would have Kerry as their minister would be very blessed. He has gifts in so many areas of ministry which makes him an ideal candidate.”
  • “…  yes, in a snap he would love to work with Kerry again.  Anybody who called Kerry is lucky. He is a well-rounded individual and in his previous life he was a team leader in corporate world.”

Asked about joining our Maple Grove community, Kerry had this to say:

Romans 8:28,  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to God’s purpose.”

Dear Maple Grove Friends in Christ,

Greetings and blessings Maple Grove United Church!  This is an unprecedented time, as some would say, and I am in total agreement.  However, this pandemic did not deter the MGUC search committee as they continued with their task of searching for and interviewing potential ministers.  Prayerfully and diligently the search committee focused on their task.  I am blessed, humbled, and honoured to be called to serve in ministry with MGUC. Hopefully, in the coming months I will be able to meet the members and adherents either via ZOOM or through physically distancing, always practicing social distance practices.  My hope is that we will be able to worship in our beautiful sanctuary in the fall, pending the local health authority and provincial guidelines regarding large group gatherings. 

I was asked to provide you with a short snippet of my life;  born in St. Thomas, Ontario and my formative years were in New Jersey, U.S.A.  I returned to Canada, in the early 80’s, after my university days where I studied Industrial Engineering Technology.  I worked in private sector manufacturing for many years with a focus on Quality Assurance, Production Management, and Information Technology.  Fortunately, through many years with a international company, I was in IT Project Management, traveling to Germany and France and then on this continent to Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Michigan and the various locations that that corporation had in Southwestern Ontario. I lived in London, ON while I was working for the international corporation.  At the end of my secular career I was employed by the hospitals in London as a Sr. Business Analyst and Project Leader.  My home church was First-St. Andrew’s UC, in London, where I was a long-time member and serving on many committees and leading in social justice initiatives. 

The love of God, Jesus and the Spirit in my life has been a focus for me.  Choral music and solo singing have made my relationship with God strong although my ministry is focused on preaching that is relevant and social justice focused.  The scriptures are a foundation of my faith and the good news of the gospels have led me to experience the goodness and not so good parts of humanity.  Over the years I have been spirit-led to be involved in palliative care, feeding street folks, working with youth to accompany them with their faith journeys and reaching out to the marginalized and oppressed.  My call to ordained ministry was just a few years ago, however, my secular life was about ministry and experiencing God’s presence amid everyday activities, even in the corporate world.

Excited and blessed, just two of the many feelings that I am flooded with to be called by MGUC.  However, I know that your heart may be weary, so I encourage you to continue with your prayer life, reach out to your friends and neighbours, and know that God is with us.  I am reassured at this time as in all times with these words from our United Church’s New Creed:

God is with us.
    We are not alone.

          Thanks be to God.

Friends;  May the peace of God be your peace, may the love of Jesus be the love you show, may the joy of the Spirit be the joy you know and may the world that God would see be found in each of us.  (from More Voices, no. 222)

Rev. Kerry Stover (pronouns: he, him)

Midweek Meditation 15

Some of my colleagues have been bemoaning the fact that “news” from our United Church General Council office has been all about protocols and pragmatics during this time of pandemic lockdown (and now limited re-openings). What they are not hearing and missing is some theology for such times and circumstances.

The Anglican bishops of Canada did issue a pastoral epistle focused on the blessing of sabbath time which this current situation affords us. The Presbyterian church leadership, I believe, focused on how we sustain caring community, live love, and uphold and promote faith.

Some clergy in Canada and America are discovering that they are working more not less during this time. Not very good sabbath practice, and stressful with regards to self-care. I suspect many of those who are working from home may also be finding the daily balancing of tasks to be more like a pressure-cooker than a slow-cooker. Multi-tasking during these times is not recommended by numerous spiritual and mental health advisors. Staying focused on one task at a time by following a priority list for each day is far better. Taking stretch, exercise, personal conversation breaks between tasks is also important.

Sabbath time is about restfulness, mindful pacing of activity, offering oneself times of stillness and solitude, time-outs for personal reflection on faith and life and self-awareness. Being is as valuable as doing. Creation has been grateful for the sabbath she has been receiving from high levels of pollution, noise, interference, exploitation, and disrespect. Human beings would do well to see these times as opportunity for sabbath restfulness and mindfulness as well as crisis.

What have you been up to that’s been more restful, less hectic, more soulful? What have you been doing for your own self-care, wellness, and spiritual growth? Where have you found joy in taking time for new ventures, new discoveries, slower processes, time out for reading, listening to music, something creative, exercise, contemplation? I was intrigued by a suggestion from one source that we could take time to feed our inner child by:  a camping out in the backyard with our own children or grandchildren, or hosting a slow-paced day camp day with them. If children or grandchildren aren’t available to us, perhaps we might find some animated movie features to enjoy, read some children’s books, go on our own nature walk where we turn over rocks, explore life in a pond, build a lean-to from fallen sticks and branches. That’s the idea behind the suggestion, you and I can create our own versions of it.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 
And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done
and God rested on the seventh day from all that work.”     (Genesis 2:1-2)

Bearing in mind that a “day” on God’s calendar is akin to “a thousand ages”, that’s a good, long, soulful rest. If it’s healthful and good for God to do so, so can it be for us for a length of days as well.  Blessed sabbath.

A Prayer for Canada Day

Creating and loving God,
As we mark the anniversary of the Confederation of Canada,
we remember and give thanks for the people
who have been the stewards of this land since time immemorial,
and commit ourselves to the work of justice, healing, and reconciliation.
Together we dream about the country that we hope to become,
a country where all are free to be their best selves.

In His Name.   
Amen.

– a prayer for Canada Day, https://www.united-church.ca/prayers/we-dream-about-country-we-hope-become

Free Programs for Children

BridgeWay Family Centres
Karen works for BridgeWay Family Centres, and there are now numerous free programs online (usually free in centres and parks in the summer) as well as Mother Goose program songs and rhymes uploaded, circle time for 0-6 yr olds uploaded, and activity ideas for children at home.

Families can join over 100 ZOOM programs per week. All free. We know how difficult it can be to be at home with children, without all of the usual supports. BridgeWay is here for families.If anyone has any questions, they can also email me.
https://bridgewaycentre.ca
Thanks,
Karen Clyde

Midweek Meditation 13

“Love your neighbour as you love yourself”

     I am fairly confident that most of us make some effort, even go beyond our normal limits, to implement the first half of this Second Great Law of Jesus.  It’s on the second half that we often fall short, or almost neglect altogether.

    This prolonged period of social distancing and self-isolation has likely exacerbated that, even if we are mainly cooped up at home with family or sustaining in person contact with a few friends who are “in our bubble”.  Yet, without part two of the law, part one has less impact and effect.

    So, unless you happen to be an unrepentant, unrelenting narcissist, the opposite is likely closer to the truth.  We give, give, and give of ourselves to others and are underachieve in the area of self-love, self-compassion.

    Self-compassion, however, has proven to be an effective and beneficial antidote to anxiety, depression, and stress.   Self-compassion is the rather simple practice of treating ourselves with the same care, respect, kindness, support, and love we offer to others.  But hey, with most of us having a lot of “spare” time during this Covid-19 crisis, surely we can find some minutes, even hours, to care for and love ourselves.

    Self-compassion enables us to focus on positives instead of negatives.  So, yes, we may be feeling down or anxious or under stress.  But … we a part of humankind in common and all people experience these feelings and pressures from time to time.  So, recognize and name the emotions you are experiencing and then think of something positive you can do in response.  For example, going for a fresh air break or walk instead of grabbing up a second Hagen-Daas* ice cream bar.  Or, have a conversation with yourself in the manner in which you might have a similar conversation with a friend or family member who is feeling stressed, or anxious, or down.  It may also be a good time to just call up a friend or put up a post on social media.

   When we feel threatened, we humans have a tendency to zero in on the negative as a means of survival.  Not a good strategy.  By focusing on positive images, memories, experiences, view of ourselves we will actually feel safer, less fearful, more hopeful, even optimistic.  In difficult or stressful times calling up and listening to a voice within ourselves that is encouraging, kind, and warm will filter through our being in ways that promote health for us in body, mind, and spirit. 

   I suspect most of us are victimized and belittled more by our own inner self-critic than by any critique or negative reaction from others around us.  Better we learn to tone down and hush that inner critic and touch base with and rouse up our inner cheerleader instead.  And yes, we all have one of those within us too.

Midweek Meditation 12

There it was, right in the middle of last Sunday’s sermon. It didn’t catch me until sometime on Sunday afternoon, even though the sermon was recorded on Friday. Just before I launched into an appeal to us all to reflect on how we ourselves are caught up in systemic racism and lingering personal prejudices that fracture our sense of human oneness, I used the lyrics from a Bob Marley song to illustrate those moments of “hearts beating as one” at a musical concert. Nothing seemed particularly inappropriate about that as I wrote it and presented it. And yet ….  When I presented it orally, I sang the lyric with a bit of a Jamaican accent. It isn’t difficult to imagine that someone of actual Jamaican descent, or any Black person anywhere might take offence to a white preacher using that sound and tone. They might hear it as someone mocking the way they speak.  Racism can be that subtle, yet still offensive.  

In my own mind, it’s a song I enjoy.  I am also conscious of the fact that I have some facility with linguistic accents.  I truly love all the variations of spoken English in its multiple dialects. I enjoy re-producing them as best I can. However, does that give the right to do so in a public presentation? In my heart of hearts, I believe I am not out to offend anyone through ridicule or mockery, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that that’s how I may be heard. Is my awareness of that enough to excuse it? Or do I need to be more prudent in my public speech so that I am respectful of anyone who might be in the audience? Might I seek out some non-white people with whom I could engage in conversation and reflection about this?There is another concern about using that lyric from the song “One Love, One Heart” in a public presentation.  Did I violate copyright?  If the sermon were to go into print in publication, I would certainly acknowledge its source.  Even though I wasn’t making money from singing that line out loud in public, was that yet okay? Or … was it just a way of illustrating a point? Was it comparable to any of us just singing along with a song like that while it’s playing on the radio in our car? Or when, say, attending a concert by Bob Marley or some group with permission to perform Bob Marley songs, the lead singer points his microphone at the gathered crowd and says, “Yeah, go ahead, you sing it”?

Yes, this Covid-19 time that affords us extended times of social isolation does leave us time and space for personal reflections and self-examination. I don’t think I’m overdoing it; but neither will I be beating myself up too hard unnecessarily. It does seem appropriate though to entertain reflections that seem to worthy of further conversation and exploration with others sometime along life’s way.

Midweek Meditation 11

If We Are Really in This Together …

There are lots of signs of encouragement, new empowerment and the positive sharing of ideas, care, assistance, helpful hints, meditative and relaxation practices, updated information, music, humour, prayers and worship, virtual hugs even. Online ordering and sales have skyrocketed. The majority of people are taking social distancing and protective measures seriously, and many are finding ways to stay connected through Internet chatrooms and Zoom, etc., through short and minimized in-person visits and backyard happy hours, etc.  And in these ways and more, we are truly responding to and managing our time and ourselves during this Covid-19 pandemic in a spirit of “We are all in this together”.

However, that isn’t universal.  And while those who choose to gather in larger groups in parks and street corners and in protest rallies and marches (which also need to happen, although it isn’t always done completely safely), and those who are being rudely strident about “you can’t tell me what to do in a free country”, put the push to flatten the curve at risk, cause me some concern; I am content to wait and see how their risk-taking plays out.

I am more dismayed by others who have seen this outbreak as a time for “opportunity” – an opportunity to make some fast and furious profits:  those who hoarded toilet paper and then sold it a $2+ per roll for instance;  those who inflated their prices on hand sanitizers, gloves, face masks, face shields, sanitary wipes for instance.  What has also been showing up recently are a number of service providers who are adding in a non-sanctioned “Covid-19” tax: on home electrical repair services, on contact lens fittings at a local optical store, on some forms of deferred payment on loans or rent or credit card bills.  Yes, business is tough.  Yes, many of us in and out of business have taken a hit; but this is no time to gouge the public trying to recoup some of your real and anticipated losses.

As we all come out slowly from this bizarre time, I also suspect our governments will jack up income taxes to cover the extraordinary expenses for seeing us through Covid-19. Which might be okay if they do it very fairly and on a totally graduated-geared-to-actual-income during these times basis.

If we are really all in this together, then let us refuse to pay extra to any economic opportunist. If we are really all in this together, then let us advocate now for a fairer, geared-to-income system of taxation and fewer loopholes for corporations and high-income individuals to find ways of dodging paying their fairer share.

If we are really all in this together, let us join the national movement already in motion to create a Universal Basic Income, so that no one falls below any poverty line.

If we are really all in this together, let us use this economic and personal rhythm slowdown time to encourage our brightest minds to rebuild a truly fair, just, and global economy.  Which may mean, cancelling wads of debt or reducing it by 50% and starting over from the ground up. Which may mean looking at Scandinavian models of governance and taxation which seem at present to ensure that everyone has enough to live on, that everyone has paid access to literacy and higher education, that everyone has access to adequate and competent medical care and health services, that everyone might have access to international travel and very few issues crossing borders, that everyone might have a living environment that is not riddled with hate, or threats, or violence, or systemic injustice. Let us take this time to rebuild a new, vibrant world where everyone in fact matters and has something of value to contribute to the health and well-being of the whole human family and to God’s creation

Fertilizer Sale, 2020!

Fertilizer Pop-Up/Pick-Up Sale 2020

Provincial and local restrictions on non-essential businesses were revised as of May 11th.  This prompted your Fertilizer Committee to swing into action and quickly plan a one day pop-up/pick-up sale of our remaining inventory.  After clearing our operational plans with the Province, Town and MGUC Council, we had less than 2 weeks to make it happen.   

By Friday May 22nd we had sold 456 bags of fertilizer and seed, 90% of our inventory, to over 100 customers through our on-line ordering system, and collected payment on all orders.  Saturday morning we opened our socially responsible out-door sale in the back parking lot and by 2:30 pm had fulfilled all our orders to our customers’ trunks!  

Adding the contribution from our partner Green Horizons for every bag of soil or mulch they sold where the customer used our special loyalty code, we are very pleased to report that not only did we reduce our inventory in storage to just a handful of bags, but we covered our expenses for 2020 and will make a contribution back to Maple Grove United Church.  

Remember you can still support Maple Grove United Church and save $5.00 by using our loyalty code MAPGROVE20 on orders of soil or mulch from Green Horizons until June 30th

Thank you to all the customers that supported us.  Thank you to our on-line system programmers for getting us ready so quickly.  And most of all, thank you to the volunteers who donned the PPE and worked the sale for us.

It may not have been the sale we would have wanted for our 60th year but in the end the success was even more satisfying under the circumstances.  See you in 2021 for our 61st Annual Maple Grove United Church Fertilizer and Lawn Care Sale.  Happy Gardening!  

Maple Grove United Church Fertilizer Committee.  

mgucfc@hotmail.ca

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