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News from the Pews

Read personal stories of changing attitudes, transforming hearts, and congregation members being moved to action. Learn how churches and individuals have responded when faced with injustice. 

A Less than Humanitarian Response for Afghanistan

In August, my husband and I went to see The Kite Runner on Broadway. Promoted as “an uplifting Broadway adaptation” of the bestselling novel 2005 by Khaled Housseini, a sign displayed outside of the theater continues by stating that this story “about the friendship of two boys living parallel lives in Afghanistan is a heartbreaker–but so uplifting it’s worth the pain.” 

The Gifts of Hearts Exchanged

“That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move and their value increases with their passage. The fields made a gift of berries to us and we made a gift of them to our father. The more something is shared, the greater its value becomes.” Robin Wall Kimmerer, “Braiding Sweetgrass”*

What a gift “Hearts Exchanged” has been to me. 

Sacred Spaces Clean Energy Grant: A program for low-income congregations

A friend of mine visited a low-income congregation in New Jersey several years ago. The pastor told him the congregation had huge energy bills every month equal to the pastor’s salary.  The building was old and not very energy-efficient. The building lost heat all the time.

Ism’s and Phobias – Part 2

If you missed part one of this set on Ism’s and Phobias, I looked at a brief examination of some of the major ism’s facing our culture and congregations today. Isms are ways that we live when we don't take a hard look at our own attitudes and behaviours.  And these isms can turn into phobias. [1] And this is where the phobias come in. Phobias are irrational fears or beliefs of groups or things that are based in stereotypes, fear or ignorance.

End of a journey or only just begun

Last weekend marked the final gathering of our formal meeting together as the Hearts Exchanged cohort in Classis Niagara.  Because of our relatively close proximity the majority of our meetings were held in person.  This was a blessing as it was a physical reminder that we need not journey alone. I am grateful for my fellow travellers and guides.

The Contagious and Unpredictable Spirit

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

I was out having coffee with a friend a little while ago when the subject of vaccination status came up. Perplexed by their stance, I approached the conversation cautiously optimistic, asking questions to genuinely understand their perspective. 

This time, I went into the conversation to listen and understand, not to change their mind (Read: I’ve entered a-many conversations trying to air my opinions because I was “right” or because they didn’t understand me– not listening to understand but listening so I could be heard.)

Is Justice Really Blind? Or Can Vision be Restored

Matthew 6: 25-26 . Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns— and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

A Kingdom for Those Deprived of Justice

In the beginning of his ministry, Jesus tells his early followers who are poor, who weep, and who experience hunger and thirst (for real food or for right relationship) that they are blessed. He doesn’t say those who help the poor are blessed, or those who give to hungry people are blessed. It is not those who are doing outreach or good deeds, but rather, it is those who are experiencing the injustices firsthand who Jesus calls blessed; it is the poor who Jesus says the kingdom of God belongs to.[1]

When the shepherds are back with their flocks

I don’t know about you, but I confess to having a love/loathe relationship with social media. Having said that, I am grateful that social media reintroduced me to The Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman’s writings several years ago, specifically his poem “The Work of Christmas.” Now, every year, I can count on at least one or more friends on social media reposting this poem around Christmas time:

“The Work of Christmas”

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