I was planning to run a small daytime group in the congregation like I did last year, but I really thought that we needed a change and to start taking a risk and invite others to join us.
The question I had to ask myself was “who/what is within the sphere of influence for ministry and community building fellowship?”
We rent a room every Sunday for our worship in the Lions Village complex in Calgary. The seniors are independent and living in their own apartments. In the past we have sponsored a Christmas meal and Stampede Breakfast for them, but nothing on a regular basis.
Instead of starting a group for our own Community of Christ seniors once a week like we did last year, I decided to discuss with some of the residents from the apartment complex who regularly attend our services if they wanted to join in with us. I asked if they wanted to form a joint committee to start up a weekly gathering in their complex with Community of Christ as the host/sponsor.
The two non-member residents and the apartment complex leaders/administration, at my invitation, met with me last week to discuss their interest. The two ladies (friends of the church who have been attending our services) told their apartment management in this meeting about their positive experience with "the Community of Christ people."
I really did not feel I needed to explain much about us as they did it so well for me. I did tell of our mission statement and habit of reaching out as servants in community everywhere we are located.
During the meeting I could feel the excitement and Holy Spirit as we talked. The building manager wrote up a flyer for us and slipped one under each apartment door last week to advertise our first meeting tomorrow. The Village leaders are making the coffee. I am even being given a key to open the outside door (a big trust they have in me).
This Sunday, one of the residents came to our church services after a meeting with the residence social club last week. The folder she handed me with great excitement contained a page of suggestions that someone had slipped under her door as to what topics/activities they wanted to discuss...one suggestion was “spirituality”.
Some of them suggested they could help lead sessions. One lady said she could lead a meeting on “How to tell your story” as a memoir for their family.
I am not doing this alone, I have a joint committee formed with both groups represented. The individuals will decide in the group the degree of leadership they want and the level of participation they wish to have.
Sometimes sharing helps each of us to see how ideas and efforts made can make such a difference as we reach out in community.
John Hamer's "There's More than One Kind of Mormon: A History of Schism in the Latter Day Saint Movement" in Review
On Friday evening, November 18, John Hamer, Pastor of the Toronto Community of Christ congregation gave a presentation entitled, "There's More than One Kind of Mormon: A History of Schism in the Latter Day Saint Movement" in Calgary. The event was free and open to the public.
When I walked in to the Friday evening presentation I was delighted to see so many new faces of folks from across the Restoration Movement and beyond. More still, I was fascinated by the unique perspectives informed by the respective faith backgrounds in the room (Mormons, Community of Christ, Evangelicals, and more). The rich sense of curiosity was exciting, and it was wonderful to connect with - and learn more about - individuals interested in our narrative and/or heritage.
Many in attendance knew and/or recognized John's name (or his voice) from the countless podcasts he has appeared on, including: Mormon Stories, Project Zion, Rational Faith, Mormon Expression, Feminist Mormon Housewives, and Infants on Thrones. Equipped with evocative slides, John's presentation was loaded with eye-opening information, and those in attendance easily followed John's overview of the schism within the Latter Day Saint Movement.
As the event organizer, I was thrilled to see so many interested in this topic, and in talking with many of the attendees, most seemed quite invigorated by the dialogue. As our congregation continues to identify methods of meaningful outreach, I am convinced that by hosting events focused on education, we will emerge as a trusted leader many can count on as we seek to fill a need for many seeking answers.
The Calgary Community of Christ congregation is grateful to John Hamer for continuing to be invested in our success and for his willingness to share his ministry.
Below is the full recorded presentation from Friday evening. Feel free to share.
When I reflect on the current political climate around the world, the passage from Mark 12:29-31 comes to me. It's through this teaching that we are challenged to remember the other, and that even though we may see things differently, we are called to love each other.
Love thy neighbour
Blood beats through every chamber, filling our bodies with hope and vision for a changed world.
Who is that anyway?
It’s not the face behind the fence, or a lovely philosophical pretense, rather, it’s the heart behind the wall or maybe the woman under the shawl.
Do we have the gall to break down the division of endless imaginary difference?
Skin difference, thought difference, word difference; raised differently, but not all that differently. Same air, same blood, same ground, same love; same idea of a life so near, without fear, we cry the same tears of joy!
The only difference is our lens. Our eyes are how we train ourselves to despise, to act unwise and to compromise our birth given value of love. Our best selves, hidden under societal mud.
When we talk to each other, we transform, removing the danger, now friend from stranger. The outsider is much easier to denigrate, form a kind of hate and eventually reverse the idea that we can’t be together as one.
All is not lost.
When we realise that it’s time to synchronise our minds for the better, that when we are together we are no longer in demise but to our surprise we are blessed with some kind of enduring sunrise moment. The day when we join hand in hand, making pacts that disband the hatred filled plans of those whose thirst for power; when that day is trumped by those who search for life’s meaning and continue to uplift with smiles beaming, that…that will be the day we know our neighbour.
That day, when we as Community of Christ embrace our name and become profane to stereotypical Christian claims that deny the truth of Jesus words, that will be the day we re-train our eyes to see through lenses of love and together our blood will beat true again. When neighbour was once the stranger, now friend.
I think, that day, is today.
Calgary Spark is a collection of stories told by members and friends of the church alike. Each person's story is helping to shape our community in new ways.