view PDF version (1.3Mb) [Adobe Acrobat is required]
How are we doing?
by Tom Ford
Last year, the moderator said United Churches should
concentrate less on physical plant and more on helping
others in our community and internationally. How well are
we doing in helping others who don’t sit in our pews? Not
badly, it would seem. Westminster has had a good
reputation for outreach and that reputation is continuing
– despite the need to set aside funds for leaky roofs.
A good place to start an
examination of our work is the Outreach Committee, chaired
by Pat Miles. Its proposed budget for this year tells an
Here are the people it wants
* Agape Table Inc. ($50.00)
supplies hot, nourishing meals to people who need them –
and has a program that promotes and enables healthy eating
* Art City ($100.00)is West
Broadway’s community art studio offering free art
programming to people of all ages who need or want to
* Betty Halstead Refugee
Project ($400.00) has established an enviable reputation
for helping newcomers to our community.
* The Council of Women of
Winnipeg ($25.00) is a federation of organizations and
individuals who come together to act in the public
interest for the welfare of women, families and society.
* ESL bursary, Gordon Bell
($500.00) - awarded each year to a high school graduate
who initially came to Canada as a refugee or immigrant.
The award takes into account the progress the student has
made, along with the obstacles she or he faced.
* Joint Inner City Ministries
Volunteer Co-ordination Project ($200.00) supports three
outreach ministries in the inner city.
* International HOPE
($600.00), a spin-off from the church, it collects,
reconditions (if necessary) and sends tonnes of surplus
medical supplies and equipment to 25 developing countries.
* Ma Mauri Wi Chi Itata Centre
($200.00) offers a profusion of services to aboriginal
people including short term emergency services, community
drop-in, in-home support services, community groups, a
volunteer program, free Internet access and programs for
ending the cycle of violence.
* West Broadway Community
Ministry ($250.00) works in co-operation with other
community groups to provide a safe, accepting environment
in which direct services are offered to promote self-help
and empowerment of individuals and families.
* Westminster Housing Society
Inc. ($3,500.00): Another spin-off from the church, WHS is
one of the city’s largest volunteer providers of quality,
affordable housing. Some of the society’s key directors
are members of the church.
* In addition, the committee
wants to set aside $185.00 for discretionary spending and
for honoraria for speakers. The church’s general outreach
work doesn’t stop here, however.
Westminster earmarks 12 per
cent of its budget for The Mission and Service Fund of The
United Church Of Canada, which is sent to the General
Council Office. And there’s more: The Westminster
Children’s Sale established in 1999 to give children an
opportunity to purchase gifts for their families;
poinsettias sent to shut-ins at Christmas; help for West
Broadway Community Ministry’s lunch program (this month
we’re asked to bring Cheese Whiz to put in boxes in
the narthex); the mitten tree; the Westminster Organ
Concert Series; lectures such as Carol Harvey’s on
medieval miracle plays; special meals such as the fall
supper; white gifts and prayer shawls.
For a more complete list of
Westminster’s outreach and associated activities, please
see a copy of the church’s annual report.
activities include special offerings for people such as
Project Peace Makers, the Bible Society, Agape Table, LITE
and the Christmas Cheer Board. We also make our church
available to groups for concerts and meetings. And we
shouldn’t forget that members of the church – such as
Outreach’s Pat Miles – go out on their own and use their
special skills to help people in them community.
All in all, I think we can
tell the moderator we’re proud of the work we’re doing.
The need for outreach will never end – but we’ve made a
Tom Ford is managing editor of
The Issues Network
MAE HAMILTON (JERNBERG)
Peacefully, with her
family by her side, Agnes passed away on December 14,
2007 at West Park Manor. The daughter of Helmer and Mary
Jernberg, Agnes was born in 1918 in Winnipeg, where she
lived throughout her life. She married Dave in 1942.
Agnes lived a full life filled with family and friends.
Of special significance were the relationships that grew
from her involvement over the years with Westminster
United Church. Donations in Agnes’ memory may be made to
The Westminster Foundation.
United Church Observer
Subscriptions to the Observer are now up for renewal. For
both new and renewal subscribers there are two ways to go!
If you have Internet go to the Observer’s website (http://www.ucobserver.org)
and click on the Subscribe Now section.
If you don’t have Internet or don’t like making purchases
there contact Pat Richtik (489-8006) from the Communications
Committee and she will gladly take your order.
| Website of
has a a wild range of videos on it. For example this
seriously flawed sermon!
Books for Garage Sale
We’re looking for pocket books and
fiction and non-fiction in soft cover only. No hard covers. No
magazines. No recipe collections. Don’t donate these as we end up
having to throw them in the garbage. And we do. A lot of work and
no reward for Westminster. If the Salvation Army and/or the
Children’s Hospital won’t take your hard covers etc. please put
them in recycling yourselves.
Gospel According To Sodom And Gomorrah
By Ernest Janzen
impressed with people who have “negotiated” their way out of a
speeding ticket, or “bartered” for an amount below the advertised
sale price. To find the origin of said activity, all we need do is
hit the big “rewind” button …
We read in Genesis 18:20ff that God decided to act on the outcry
against the sin of the original twin-cities (Sodom and Gomorrah),
and that God intended to destroy the city in its entirety.
Enter Abraham who challenges God on this
decision. Abraham says: “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous
with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city;
will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty
righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to
slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as
the wicked ! Far be that from you ! Shall not the Judge of all the
earth do what is just?”.
account ended there (which it doesn’t), the punch-value of the story
as told thus far is already worthy of a George Dubya Bush “shock and
awe” moment. Abraham TELLS God how to act?
And what about the leading questions?
More people than would care to admit have committed the sin of
saying: you’re not going out wearing THAT tonight are you ? A price
has to be paid for questions like that, and Abraham’s volley
well-exceeds the realm of fashion. In essence, Abraham chastises God
and then “reminds” God of what acts are becoming and which are not.
It boggles the mind.
In no other major world religion
(excluding Christianity, itself a derivative of Judaism), do we find
a principal deity who “speaks with” their creation, never mind one
with whom humans can argue, debate, and barter.
Had you not grown up inside the circle
(i.e., knowing the story), one would likely be stupefied to discover
that Abraham gets God to agree not to nuke the city if 50 righteous
can be found there.
But this negotiation spiral is just
getting started. Notwithstanding the initial success, Abraham now
negotiates for 45 righteous as the cut-off point. God concedes.
And this continues:
Abe: 40? God: sure.
Abe: 30? God: yup.
Abe: 20? God: k.
quit-while-you-are-ahead leaps to mind at this point, but Abraham
continues with one last shot over the bow: “Oh do not let the Lord
be angry [ya think?] if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are
found there.” While it would not be unexpected to witness God hit a
breaking point, once again God agrees to this now radically reduced
This entire discussion is captured in
less than a dozen verses within the Hebrew Bible, but it is legion
in terms of its contribution to the then-understanding of who God
was, and how humankind could interact with that God. You could
negotiate with this God. You could make a deal with this God.
Could you? Or, does this story really
reveal more of the then-Jewish perception of who God was? Regardless
of whom was created in whose image (from a
“character” point of view), the story
of Abraham standing toe-to-toe with God is nothing short of
In spite of Abraham’s valiant
efforts, the twin-cities are destroyed in Spielbergesque fashion
(fire and sulfur rains from heaven). Ouch. Lesson? Perhaps that the
negotiations had failed (which they had); or, that Abraham was
insubordinate (which he was).
Or perhaps it is the epiphany that
this God wears flexibility as part of the divine makeup. And thus,
out of the ashes of this caustic story rises the redeeming
notion that the God of impeccably high standards … can also move on
the same. Quite frankly, when you have fire and sulfur raining down,
it’s always nice to find a silver lining in the clouds.
Welcome to Westminster
was born in Winnipeg and lived in Fort Rouge until a year and a
half ago when I moved to the West Broadway area. I am now widowed,
but my husband Ron and I were in the original Square Dance group
in Winnipeg in the 1950’s. Other interests for me through the
years have been participating with the Shoestring Players (drama)
and the Ceol Mara Singers, a Gaelic choir. I have four grown sons,
now settled in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg, and Yukon. As you can
imagine, I am frequently on the phone to stay in touch with them.
Riverview United Church, whose congregation is presently
incorporated into Churchill Park United, was my “home” church and
in the 1970’s and 80’s I was secretary there. I have a prior
connection with Westminster as I worked in AVEL (Audio Visual
Education Library) when its office was in this church’s former
manse and then later in Church House at 120 Maryland. Some
ministers I still know were just starting out in their first
“charges” at the time. I’m happy to be here at Westminster and
enjoying the friendship of the congregation.
am very happy to be welcomed as a member of Westminster United
Church. It seems to me that right from my first Sunday visit I
have felt at “home”. I was born in London, England and moved to
Winnipeg at age two. Though out my childhood, Winnipeg and the
United Church were a part of my family life but I wandered away as
a young adult. A change in my life brought me back to Knox United
Church in Calgary where I learned to appreciate the wonder of
traditional worship and a rich choral experience. On my return to
Winnipeg, eight years ago, I began to search for a new church
“home”. My journey to this place has led me to some wonderful
congregations and I have met many generous and caring United
Church folk but I just couldn’t seem to settle in. I believe I
have found what I was searching for here at Westminster and I am
looking forward to getting to know you and being involved in the
life of the congregation. Peace be with you.
Congregation Celebrates Temperance
Grace-Westminster United in Saskatoon,
celebrated its 125th anniversary last fall but also participated
in events marking the founding of the city 125 years ago. The
Methodist church began at the same time Saskatoon was established
(1882) by the Temperance Colonization Society, on land granted for
that purpose by the Canadian government. Temperance Society
representative John Lake chose the site of Saskatoon after meeting
with local Dakota Chief Whitecap.
In last Sunday’s bulletin there was the following announcement:
Manitoba Interfaith Council and The Faculty of Theology/
University of Winnipeg offers you the opportunity to visit 5
worship centers of different faiths:
Buddhism - Thurs. Jan. 17 6:30 pm
.Hinduism - Thurs. Jan. 31 6:30 pm.
Judaism - Sun. Feb. 17 6:00 pm.
Sikh - Thurs. Feb. 28 6.30 pm.
Islam - Thurs. Mar. 13 6.30 pm.
Panel Discussion: “The Relationship between Faiths” - Thurs. Mar.
27 6.30 pm. U of W. Course Fee $25. For more information contact
Tom Collings of The Manitoba Interfaith Council (772-2892) or by
There was also an article in the
Sunday Winnipeg Free Press Faith page that mentioned a number of
ecumenical activities available in the coming weeks.
If any members of the congregation
intend to take part in any of this activity I (Roy
Halstead-233-1361) would be happy to hear from you about your
experiences in worship outside Westminster. I’m not going to ask
anyone to write articles for the newsletter but if you’ll talk to
me about your visits I may be able to help you share your thoughts
with the rest of the congregation.
A Review by Robert Campbell of N. T.
Wright’s Simply Christian
As a minister, I’ve always been on the lookout for a book that would
function as a timely and accessible introduction to Christianity, a
book that I could recommend to someone who has had little background
in the church and with the Bible and who would like to know more, or
that I could recommend to someone who has lived with all kinds of
Christian conversation, teaching, and preaching and would like to
have a framework that pulls it all together. N. T. Wright, who is
currently the Anglican Bishop of Durham, England, has written such a
book in Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense.
Wright tells the Christian story by
showing how it addresses longings that all people share. These are
described in four chapters in Part One as a hunger for justice in a
world put to rights, a hunger
for a spirituality that transcends the bleak landscape of modern
secularism and puts us in touch with the Creator, a hunger for
community marked by relationships of trust and love, and a hunger
for beauty that is true and enduring. Wright interprets these
hungers, these longings, as “echoes of a voice” which he believes to
be the voice of God. He then sets out to tell the story of God
according to the Christian tradition, a story which he believes
makes sense of these longings and points to their fulfillment.
In Part Two he unfolds the Christian
story that emerges in scripture. Reading his chapter on God, one can
understand why the concept, “echoes of a voice”, means so much to
him. It arises from his conviction that God is both different from
and accessible to us. He rejects two commonly held worldviews about
God and earth that he believes lead to dead ends. One is the
pantheist view that God’s space and our space are essentially the
same—God is everywhere and everywhere is God—a worldview in which an
echo of what is other is unneeded. The other is the deist view that
God’s space and our space are firmly set apart and a very long way
from each other—God certainly wouldn’t be involved in our world
beyond having set it in operation—a worldview in which an echo is
impossible. Rather, Wright puts forward the view held within classic
Judaism and Christianity that while God’s space—heaven—and our
space—earth—are not the same, yet they are not impassably apart, but
overlap and interlock in different ways, so that God makes God’s
presence known, seen, and heard within the sphere of the earth in
such actions that might be expected to leave echoes, echoes of a
voice. God’s action in Christ would be the richest source of these.
Before coming to the chapter on Jesus,
Wright thankfully produces one on Israel. Thus, there is no
possibility of detaching the story of Jesus from the story of God’s
people over the centuries
that established the context for his coming. Any reader of Wright is
bound to gain an appreciation of the Hebrew scriptures of the Old
Testament and to turn to them with anticipation.
There are two chapters on Jesus, one
focused on his ministry, marked by his proclamation of the kingdom
of God, the other focused on the events of the cross and
resurrection. For Wright, both are a necessary part of the story. He
does not allow a detachment of the saving work of the cross
completed in the resurrection from the socially challenging teaching
of the kingdom, manifested in parable, miracle, and healings, or
vice versa. Each helps explain and define the other and there is no
having one without the other.
Wright’s chapters on the Spirit are
helpfully concrete. Consider these sentences:
The Spirit is given to begin the work
of making God’s future real in the present. That is the first, and
perhaps the most important, point to grasp about the work of this
strange personal power for which so many images are used. Just as
the resurrection of Jesus opened up the unexpected world of God’s
new creation, so the Spirit comes to us from
that new world, the world waiting to
be born, the word in which, according to the old prophets, peace and
justice will flourish and the wolf and lamb will lie down side by
Having thus located the Spirit within
the context of God’s promises and Jesus’ activity, it is not
surprising that, when Wright comes to speak of Christian
spirituality, he does not confine himself to speaking about
experiencing “the intimate presence of God”, though that is part of
it, but goes on to show how such spirituality will involve a measure
of suffering, for it is built upon the life and work of Jesus and
thus shares his suffering for the sake of the creation’s renewal.
Part Three focuses on the community
which consciously seeks to hear the echoes of a voice, namely, the
church, and contains chapters on the church’s activities—worship,
prayer, Bible reading and interpretation—all of which make sense for
a people called “to live at the overlap of both heaven and earth—the
earth that has yet to be redeemed as one day it will be—and of God’s
future and this world’s present.” (p.161)
Throughout his presentation, Wright
helps us to see that our role as followers of Christ is to be
agents, heralds, and stewards of the new day that is dawning, the
one promised in Christ’s resurrection and that will come in
fullness, the day when earth and heaven will be one.
Incidentally, Wright is helpful on a
number of issues that seem to trouble the church these days. Against
those who are always trying to articulate alternative readings of
Christ’s resurrection, he provides firm arguments in its defence.
Against those scholars who seem to be very suspicious of the early
church and who think the real Jesus lies behind and not within the
biblical text we have from it, he speaks convincingly of the
reliability of the New Testament text. Against those who want to
exalt metaphorical over literal readings of the biblical text, he
gives several pages to showing how these two terms are often
misused, thus leading to interpretive dead ends, and shows a new way
forward that would have us reading the Bible the way first-century
Jews and Christians might have.
Tom Wright is both a biblical scholar
of the first rank and a pastor and preacher who faces parishioners
from a pulpit on Sundays. This book combines both his theological
and communicative strengths. The language is tailored to the
ordinary person who is prepared to do a bit of thinking.
will reward anyone, either curious about the faith or anxious to
understand it more deeply, who makes the effort to read it. It was
published in 2006 by Harper San Francisco and can be purchased at
McNally Robinson’s or at Hull’s or on the internet from your
MURRAY COWAN KERR
Born in Winnipeg,
Nov. 23, 1921. Died Sunday, Jan. 13, 2008. He grew up and received
all his education in Winnipeg. On Dec.19, 1942 he married Marguerite
(Bonnie) (also “Sam”) Cameron. Together they had three children,
Georgine, Ian and Allan. Also in 1942 he joined the Canadian Navy
and served on Atlantic convoy duty till the end of the war in 1945.
Over the years he was employed by Winnipeg Hydro, Purity Flour and,
finally, worked on the Marketing staff of Shell Oil.
Murray joined Westminster Church in
1948 ( Bonnie in 1936) and together and individually were very
active in the congregation especially in the Couples Club serving,
jointly, as President in 1953. Murray served as an elder on the
Session and as a member of the Official board. He represented
Westminster on Presbytery for 25 years. He was also on the Board of
Directors at Fred Douglas Lodge (Acting as President from ’79 to
’83) and on the Board of the Manitoba Health Organization furthering
his work with seniors in Manitoba.
Perhaps his greatest love was with
the AOTS (As One That Serves) since its inception in Manitoba in
1947. In 1979 he was selected by the National Council of The United
Church AOTS Men’s Clubs to receive a life membership award, an honor
he greatly cherished. People in Westminster will remember how he
would organize groups of men to head over to the Municipal
Hospitals, early Sunday mornings, to wheel patients in wheel chairs
to the church services there.
On Dec. 19 of last year Murray and
Bonnie celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary at a supper with
friends and family at Fred Douglas where Bonnie is a resident.
Sunday, Jan. 20: Fellowship Luncheon
Sunday, Feb. 3: Sacrament of Communion
Sunday, Feb. 17: Fellowship Luncheon
Sunday, Feb. 24: Organ Concert with Olivier Vernet (2:30 PM)
Sunday, Mar. 2: Guest Preacher, Sherri McConnell
Mar. 2 to 16: Winnipeg Music Festival Competions in The Sanctuary
Sunday, Mar. 9: Annual General Meeting
Sunday, Mar. 16: Fellowship Lunch
Thursday, Mar. 20: Maundy
Thursday Potluck Supper at 6:00 PM and Communion
Service at 7:30 PM
Friday, Mar. 21: Good Friday
Sunday, Mar. 23: Easter Sunday
Sunday, Mar. 30: Adult Baptism and Confirmation
Sunday, Apr. 6: Sacrament of Communion.
Sunday, Apr. 6: Organ Concert (Duo Majora) - 8:00 PM
Apr. 20: Fellowship Luncheon
Monday, Apr. 21: Westminster Dessert Bridge at 12:00 Noon
Saturday, Apr. 26:Westminster Garage Sale from 9:00 to 2:00
Information concerning Church Board and Committee meeting times:
Check the Happenings page at
For the Archives...
This is the last Christmas (2007) that
the front of the sanctuary will look like this. This summer,
renovation. Next Christmas (2008) a new look.
Many thanks to the adults who helped to
make this year’s edition a success!