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Hold Onto Your Hats

Dec 7, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

It feels like November FLEW by and here we are with another December already before us – and for me that includes entering into my fifth year at Forest Hill! I can hardly believe it. When I finish here in the spring, I’ll have been here nearly twice as long as anywhere else I’ve been an Interim Minister.

Changes are coming. The Search Committee is into the hard work now of deep listening and discernment. Keep praying for them in their discussions and deliberations.

As much as they are able, they are keeping us advised of their work, and then will be making recommendations to the congregation.

So, what does this have to do with Christmas? Well, actually, if you were in church, you’ll know that we’re not there yet. December is Advent, the church’s season of preparation. To mark Advent is to accept an invitation to centre oneself spiritually and to deliberate about what matters in life. Advent is about getting ready for the new life God is bringing to birth.

It’s about having the courage of Mary and Joseph to defy convention and to dare to allow Divine Mystery to work within one’s whole being. It’s about hope and trust, longing and anticipation.
Preparing well means that when what is new comes, we’ll have shed our resistance and fear and be open to all the possibilities that beginning has to offer.

Wishing you the deep and reorienting blessings of Advent,

The Messenger: December 2016

Dec 7, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

To Read More Click Here: DEC 2016

The Messenger: November 2016

Nov 28, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

To Read More Click Here: NOV 2016


Nov 28, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

Perhaps it’s harder for churches built in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. The church I grew up in was one of those too. Because all we had to do was “build it and they will come”, we came to misunderstand what church is. “Church” became the building, rather than the people and community of faith. And we developed a misconception or how to “BE” church. We experienced being a Christian as passive: as a “taking in” – be that of people, learning, worship, or money. It seemed so easy.
But being a Christian is not meant to be passive. It is an active commitment. Rev. Cameron Trimble puts it this way:
“Take off your bib and put on your apron.”

Similarly, other church renewal gurus say: “Get out of the dining room and into the kitchen.”

Christianity is not an armchair activity. Church isn’t a place to come and be waited on. Staff aren’t hired to look
after the congregation – That’s everyone’s job! Rather, church is a place to be equipped: for evangelism,
service, and mission. I know evangelism is scary. We treat it like a four-letter word. But it can be as simple
as inviting a neighbour to Coffee and Conversation or UCW or Lunch Bunch or a discussion group. You don’t
have to wear your faith on your sleeve. How we interact with others and live day-by-day are the biggest
witness we can make to what we believe. Getting involved is fun and deepens your faith and life experience.
One newly involved leader spoke with me about noticing more and seeing things with new eyes. Another leader said, “People say ‘thanks’ to me. I don’t need thanks. What I do is it’s own reward!”
You don’t need to wait to be invited. Our new model is designed to help you find wings for your fledgling idea.
And I’m always happy to talk with people who want to do “something” but aren’t sure yet what that might be.
So, what are you waiting for?


Making It Work

Oct 17, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

Our new “governance” model at Forest Hill is now up and running. Hurray for those who participated in Celebration Sunday and signed up for a new commitment!
Why did we need a new structure? What are we trying to accomplish? With a smaller Council, doesn’t that mean even fewer people doing even more work?
Dan Hotchkiss is an author on one of the blogs to which I subscribe, and an expert whose research we used in designing our new model. He says that in the old days church was designed to prevent change because, when everything is going well, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In that system “seasoned clergy, long-tenured members, major contributors, and faithful volunteers” had veto power. Newcomers were taught how to do things the ”right” way, which was “the way we’ve always done it.”
But somewhere along the way in the last few decades, we began to realize that same old, same old, wasn’t working anymore. In that situation, a system that’s designed to preserve the status quo is one which ensures an organization’s demise. When decisions are made, circulated, argued, remade and recirculated, the very qualities needed for change, namely creativity and timeliness, are stifled. One chart suggested it took an average church 2 years to make a decision! If we didn’t change, we would die.
The church of the 21st Century needs to be purposeful and innovative and have a sense of urgency. Dan writes:
“A church that is uncertain why it exists … clings to whatever makes its members comfortable. But a church whose heart is seized by a compelling purpose sacrifices what is comfortable in favor of what works. To reach people different from the current membership [– what we have to do to grow], what works is to empower leaders to engage in purpose-driven trial and error.”
The church of the 21st Century needs to be purposeful and innovative and have a sense of urgency.
So, our new leadership style is one which encourages trial and error and is structured around our mission of “Celebrate God, Be in Community, Reach Out to Others”.
Another element of this new way of operating is that those who are working on a project make the decisions about it. This requires trust from the rest of us that the research and homework are done, budget accounted for, and timelines managed. Decision-making is streamlined and specific. The Unit Coordinators and Facilitators are there to help, advise, and support – but not to get in the way. There is room for initiatives and creative solutions, moving efficiently from imagination to implementation and respecting the wisdom of those who propose them.
What do you want to happen? What are your ideas? How are you going to step up?

The Messenger: October 2016

Oct 17, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

To Read More Click Here:  OCT 2016

Building the Future

Aug 26, 2016   //   by admin   //   The Message  // 

When Forest Hill United Church (FH) was built in 1960, it was a centre in a community of young families. At that time about 5.7%* of the Canadian population were members of the United Church of Canada and most attended church weekly. FH responded with an overflowing Sunday School with classes arranged by grades. There was a well-resourced music programme and plenty of midweek activities. The church grew, the building was added on to, and the place was alive and thriving.
As the community around the church and the wider culture shifted, FH felt the impact in declining numbers and resources. Nationally by 2013, the most recent figure available, United Church members were 1.3%* of the Canadian population, and even most of the regular attenders weren’t coming weekly.
Yet, there is still an established community around the church. FH’s goal is to reach out to that community as it now is. And you have! From backpacks and barbeques at Chandler Mowat to Food Truck Frenzy to connecting with Muslim neighbours, relationships will continue to broaden and deepen from these initiatives.
That’s the vision. When you give to FH, you give to build that vision. While a new roof, staff, building maintenance and utilities are all necessary expenses, they aren’t terribly exciting in and of themselves. What’s exciting is what having a well-resourced church makes possible. That’s FH again being a centre for the community, developing connections and fostering caring. You know that’s happening when Food Truck patrons are donating backpacks, and money toward Syrian refugee sponsorship!
As a new year begins in church life, I invite you to consider your spending priorities. How much do you spend on coffee or eating out, on entertainment and vacations, on ‘stuff’? Where does FH rate on your list of expenses? Is it an essential to which you give generously, or an extra that gets money when you’re here?
Jesus says “Where your money goes shows where your heart is.” Does what you donate to FH reflect the priority you want the church and your faith to have? Many people give because they know the church needs money to operate. While that’s true, it’s not very inspiring. If your heart is in FH’s future and vision, give because you believe!
* Statistics from the Rev. David Ewart, Vancouver
Way to go! Way to give! Way to grow

The Messenger: September 2016

Aug 26, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

To read more click here:  Septemberpdf 2016

Looking to the Future

Jun 3, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

Besides the goals a congregation sets for itself during an Interim Ministry, there are 5 Focus Points which Interim Ministers use to guide, deepen and integrate the work of the congregation. Over the past 3 years, one or more of these has been at the forefront. They are: Heritage, Leadership, Mission (Identity), Connections, and Future. Right now, it’s the last of these that’s taking centre stage. At last, some are saying, we’re moving ahead.
The writing team is making the final touches to the Joint Needs Assessment Report, incorporating a few edits from the Board. This report is the end result of the gathering on April 17, when eighty people from the congregation gave input for the profiles of: Community, Congregation, Resources, Minis-try, Skills, Terms. The writing team took that material and consolidated it into a document describing Forest Hill United Church and the ministry you are preparing for.
On Sunday June 5 after worship, that report will be formally presented to the congregation for approval. You will receive it by email before that, or if you don’t have email, once it’s available you can come into the church and pick up a print copy.
At that same congregational meeting, the Nominating Committee will present names for Forest Hill’s appointees to the Joint Search Committee. Presbytery has already named its representatives: Cathie Steward-Savage (Presbytery Secretary and member of First, Waterloo) and Rev. Mary Elliott (Diaconal Minister at Three Willows, Guelph).
Then, the search for a new ministry team will begin. As the Search Committee does its work for the Future, the other focus points will continue to shape our communal life: Food Truck Frenzy will help to build Connections in the community, as will the Tri-Faith Refugee sponsorship and our presence at the Chandler-Mowat barbe-que. The new Council and governance structure will be inaugurated (Leadership) and you will be challenged to an ever deepening understanding of Mission built from the foundation of Heritage, and inspired by those community Connections, and guided by the Future toward which God is guiding Forest Hill.
Jesus said to them, “For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17: 20 NRSV)

The Messenger: June 2016

Jun 3, 2016   //   by admin   //   News  // 

To Read More Click Here: Junepdf 2016